Let me start by saying I am a believer of intrinsic motivation. I always dream of students working for knowledge’s sake. However, after many experiments year after year, I found that kids respond to classroom rewards well and sometimes you just have to use what works.

Advantages of Classroom Rewards

The idea of classroom rewards is an important concept to consider in class as they play significant parts in raising attendance, improving effort in class and developing motivation. When children are appreciated for a job well done, they take pride of their work and feel valued by the person that matter to them the most in class – their teacher.

Consequently, children strive harder to become the best and even double their effort and energy. They become motivated and go above and beyond what is expected of them.

Above all, giving classroom rewards or recognition is a great opportunity to celebrate success at individual and group level and students really enjoy the occasion.

Precautions in Giving Classroom Rewards

Classroom rewards can backfire if teachers don’t have a well-established system and if intentions are not well-explained to children. Teachers have to create a positive environment where achievements are recognized.  Each student should know that their learning is a priority and their contribution is valued by their teacher and by the class as a whole.

Rewards are not at all bad, but they should be implemented to certain precautions and limitations. At all cost, teachers should avoid doing the following in giving classroom rewards:

  • comparing the achievers with the non-achievers and making the latter feel inferior
  • using rewards as a bribe to do something rather than a price for doing something good
  • giving rewards for everything 
  • giving in when students demand for rewards
  • overemphasizing rewards

Classroom Rewards Systems

There are many ways to implement a good classroom reward system depending on how your class is set up:

I. Long-term Systems

Sticker or Point System – individual or group can earn stickers or points for good behavior or an outstanding work. Stickers or points are usually posted on the chart on the bulletin board.

Currency or Token System – students can earn classroom play money or tokens which can be exchanged for some fun stuff in the classroom store.

Raffle Tickets – students can earn a raffle ticket which will be drawn at the end of the week, month or term. Winners can get special prizes.

II. Short-term or Immediate

  1. Students get rewards such as candies or gums right after winning a game, for volunteering or for not breaking the rules.
  2. The teacher writes the word REWARD or GAME on the board during class. Every time the students misbehave, break the rules or get rowdy, the teacher erases one letter and when no letter is left on the board that means no reward or game for the day. But students have the chance to get the letters back if they change their behavior positively before the class ends.

Whatever system you choose, it is important to consider the following questions:

  • How will you give out reward points?  Stickers, stamps, points on the board, etc?
  • How will you keep track of reward points?  By individuals, groups, as a class?
  • What rewards will you give?

And lastly, here are some simple and easy classroom rewards that can get students excited:

  • gums, candies, chocolates
  • earn a raffle ticket
  • earn points or play money for classroom store
  • school supplies or toys (classroom store)
  • extra recess
  • outdoor class activity
  • watch an English movie
  • listen to music while working
  • read a book of their choice
  • sit next to a friend
  • free seating arrangement (class)
  • pizza/donut party
  • good work note sent to parents
  • no homework pass
  • extra credit
  • certificates or medals

What classroom reward system works best for you? Please let us know in the comments!

Author: Melchor Bernardo

Students call me Teacher Mel. After quitting law school, I moved to Vietnam to be with my first love – teaching English! This website is a bit of a copy of my teaching styles and philosophy. I live by the words of Benjamin Franklin: “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”

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5 comments on “20 Classroom Rewards to Get Students Motivated

  1. Andrea on said:

    I teach English to teenage Japanese students here attending Aussie schools for about 7 – 10 days.. they practice English really and I try to make it fun…I use Caramello Koalas for the first day ( or so) then they relax and I use scrabble and match ups… I have never had complaints

  2. I am teacher of physics, but I found interesting the last one for my class..thanks

  3. Hillary Bannon on said:

    I totally agree with you Melchor. Rewards and also punishment are essential part of teaching and even at home. Like you said, teachers should know how to discern the best time to give rewards and when not to use it. I am always for positive reinforcement.

  4. Jennifer on said:

    everything are applicable… it can help a lot of foreign teachers improve their teaching…. very well said…

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