35 student rewards that don’t cost a thing

Praise. Encouragement. Compliments.

It’s free, but it’s fundamental to teaching.

And while nothing beats a genuine face-to-face compliment, there are also countless ways to incorporate rewarding students into your classroom management techniques.

This blog piece, quite simply, fires 35 of our favourites at you…

  1. Certificates for good behaviour.
  2. Certificates for perfect attendance.
  3. Certificates for most improved.
  4. Certificates for helping others.
  5. Certificates for most enthusiastic.
  6. Certificates for most polite.
  7. ‘Excused from homework’ pass – if a student’s done well, give them a day off homework.
  8. ‘Hand in homework late’ pass. Or give them extra time.
  9. Check out flea markets, car boot and garage sales for small (and possibly free!) rewards for younger students: ie coloured pencils, glitter, bookmarks, rulers, stencils, stamps…
  10. ‘No uniform’ day.
  11. ‘Dress up’ day.
  12. ‘No shoes in class’ day.
  13. ‘Finish 15 minutes early’ day.
  14. ‘Extra technology’ time.
  15. Or time to play non-academic computer games.
  16. Hold class outside, or any other environment that breaks routine.
  17. Allow students a five-minute ‘ask me anything’ lighthearted session.
  18. Movie day. Studying a book in literature? Show the film version, and allow students to bring in popcorn.
  19. A prize for ‘best question of the day’.
  20. Tell parents when a student’s done well. This could be an email, SMS, or via a set of ‘positive postcards’ you send through the mail.
  21. ‘Choose the music’. If your school plays music over the PA during breaks, give individual students a turn at picking the playlist.
  22. Check each other’s homework, rather than have the teacher do it.
  23. ‘Choose your own reward’ as an ultimate incentive.
  24. ‘Sit where you want’ day.
  25. ‘Get out of trouble’ card, allowing students to avoid being punished for future misbehaviour (the ‘trick’ being that the kind of student who earns this card is unlikely to be the kind of student who needs it!)
  26. Fruit for correct answers in a quiz.
  27. Win the right to be first in line for lunch.
  28. Help the teacher present a lesson, for example by writing on the blackboard.
  29. Allow students to pick who gets to be their ‘study buddy’ on an assignment.
  30. Make a student ‘timekeeper’, so they get to give a 5-minute warning near the end of activity, and then announce when it’s over.
  31. Give a student the power to assign other students in the class to helping roles, chores or tasks.
  32. Have a class pet for students to take home – ideally something simple like a hamster or goldfish!
  33. Make a test into a quiz show format.
  34. Cancel a test unexpectedly.
  35. ‘Feature on Facebook’: upload a comment on a student’s praiseworthy behaviour to the school (or class) social media pages.

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