I borrowed this idea from a teacher years ago and have used it ever since. I have found it to be my most effective type of individual student reward system.
Here is how it works:
- Cut blue construction paper into 2” x 6” strips. You may want to put a special stamp on them so that students can’t “counterfeit” them.
- Distribute blue strips as rewards for good behavior, good thinking, acts of kindness, etc. (I always keep a handy supply in my teacher apron).
- Students save the blue strips in a Ziploc bag and redeem them for rewards.
I have a few rules regarding blue strips:
- Students can never ask for a blue strip or hint that they deserve one.
- If I see students counting strips or playing with them throughout the day, I take all of them and they have to start over. It usually only happens once each year.
- Blue strips are turned in only at the pre-determined times (end of the day or one day/week).
- If students plan to turn in a Friday donut pass, they must tell me on Thursday so that I can buy the donuts.
- I schedule one “lunch with the teacher” date each month. If students have enough strips, they may join the lunch. If not, they have to wait until the next month.
This is such a simple, inexpensive technique, but students of all ages love it. I think one reason for its success is that I have trained myself to make sure that I look the child in the eye and give specific positive feedback each time I award a blue strip. That means more to most students than the tangible rewards. Some of them just like to collect the blue strips and never even turn them in. (I haven’t figured that one out yet).