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9 Examples of Reward Systems in the Classroom (by Teachers)

Helpful examples of reward systems in the classroom using privileges, tangible rewards, and praise, from real teachers.

So, you’ve decided to make a reward system part of your classroom culture.

upper elementary class of students at desk, "classroom reward systems from real teachers"

And you’re hoping this will:

  • Build your classroom community
  • Motivate students
  • Reduce negative or disruptive behaviors
  • Increase academic success

Other teachers have gotten these results, and more.

Which is why I want to give you loads of examples of reward systems in the classroom – actual systems used by teachers and educators as part of their classroom management plan to help you create your own.

Psst: looking for kid reward systems at home? Here’s 21 reward system ideas for kids.

Types of Classroom Reward Systems to Pick From

A classroom reward system is set up to reward a student with something when a student has achieved a targeted behavior. The student either receives the actual reward right then and there, OR, saves up the points/tokens/credit/etc. to then “cash in” for a reward at a later time (such as in a “token economy”).

Before we dive into real examples of lots of classroom reward systems, let’s briefly list out the types of rewards systems (which can be for individuals, groups, or class-wide):

  1. Verbal reinforcements/praise/recognition
  2. Tangible rewards
  3. Classroom privileges

Examples of Reward Systems in the Classroom

Below you’ll find both systems, and specific details for how real educators are using these reward systems in their classrooms.

1. Secret Student Scratch-Off Reward Days

This educator created Secret Student Day.

On Secret Student Day, she chooses one Secret Student, and writes their name behind a poster at the front of the room.

At the end of the day, she reveals the Secret Student, who then gets to choose a scratch-off reward ticket (as long as they behaved well throughout the day).

Get your free printables, here.

2. Classroom Management Monopoly

This teacher uses a classroom-wide rewarding method with an old Monopoly board, a train, dice, Velcro, and some small rewards.

Each time her class receives a compliment, or everyone turns in their homework, or some other class-wide positive behavior occurs, they get to roll the dice and advance on the board.  

She writes her own rewards on the Community Chest cards, and one is drawn before a new round is done.

Once they pass GO, they collect the reward on the Community Chest card.

If they land on Free Parking, they get a small reward, such as M&Ms or a Hershey Kiss. And if they have to go to jail? Well, she has them run a lap at recess or something like that.

3. Host a Glow Day or Glow Class Period

What if you introduced a class-wide reward Glow Day, where you darken your classroom (using butcher paper), give out glow sticks, highlighters, and lots of other things that will glow in the dark?

This teacher came up with this really fun idea, plus resources to help you pull it off. You can even do lessons around the glow, so no need to stop teaching. 

4. Candyland Homework Pass Board

This is a Candyland Homework reward system created by a teacher. She took a photo of each student, which became their game piece. Then she created a Candyland-inspired bulletin board.

When the kids completed homework assignments everyday for two weeks, they earned a free homework pass. There are also candy spaces, and when a child lands on those, they get a small prize. 

5. Desk Pets

I grew up in the era of pet rocks – yup, I had a pet rock on the corner of my desk for a few months while in sixth grade. It was white and peachy, smooth, and mine.

And while it wasn’t tied to any sort of reward system, it just delighted me to have it there.

Now…there are desk pets! Could you imagine if there were desk pets back when I was in school? <oooohhhh the possibilities>. I’m half-tempted to get myself a desk pet for my grown-up desk, to be honest.

A few ideas for how teachers have used these in their classrooms:

  • Setting up an Adoption Desk Pet Center, and letting kids pick out their pet upon earning them. Here’s one teacher who created an Adoption Desk Pet center.
  • Opening a Pet Shop that students get to shop at with points they’ve earned for good behavior. Pet shop supplies can include things like pet food (here are pet food erasers), little felt blankets, a Desk Pet holder, pet toys, balls (pom-poms), and other accessories.
  • Vet clinic, Pet Hospital (for misbehavior), and pet home for the pets to come back to when it’s not appropriate for them in class (you could just allow them out for 15 minutes or so a day, or during free time).
  • Let kids create a habitat for their pets.

Here are some great tips on how to make these part of your classroom management system.

6. Mystery Word Whole Class Reward

Here’s an easy-to-use reward system where you create (or buy her resource) a class wide reward, spell the reward out in one letter per 8” X 11” sheet, and then have the students earn the letters until they spell what they get.

She’s got great ideas, like:

  • Popcorn Party
  • Stuffed Animals
  • Class Auction
  • Etc.

7. Spin of the Prize Wheel

Have you seen these prize wheels?

You can have students earn points, tokens, or whatever else to then use to buy spins on the prize wheel.

Here are free prize wheel templates that you can fill in yourself, and here’s a prize wheel you can write in your prizes on plus erase them for endless uses.

8. Classroom Reward Coupons

You don’t have to give out tangible rewards for students to be interested.

This educator has created some free printable reward coupons that she uses with her elementary students.

Here’s how her classroom coupon reward system works:

  • She rewards students with Class Dojo points for things like completing homework, using manners, winning classroom games, etc.
  • Class Dojo points are redeemed for money
  • Students are paid out money on Fridays
  • Students use money to buy coupons (each coupon costs $20)
  • One student is a banker, and does the transactions
  • Students organize their classroom coupons in a pencil pouch

And here’s another example of an educator’s classroom coupon reward system.

9. Reward Tags (or “Brag Tags”)

Give everyone a binder ring at the beginning of the year (here are colorful, metallic ones, or use these necklaces), and either buy a set of reward tags, or come up with a list of things you want to see more of in your classroom, and create tags for those.

As students show you these positive behaviors, reward them with a tag to put on their ring binder.

Here’s a great rundown of how to set up your own Brag Tag system.

Free Brag Tags to get you started:

Free Classroom Reward System Ideas

Have a non-existent small budget to spend on your classroom reward system…but you really want to use one?

Perfect. I’ve got a list of free classroom reward system ideas for you:

  • YouTube video to watch as a class
  • Pass to sit with friends on a specific day
  • 15 minutes of free time at the end of class (they could go to the library, draw, listen to music through earphones, read, or talk quietly)
  • Cosmic yoga session
  • Brown-bag-lunch together with teacher in teacher lounge
  • School uniform pass
  • Jump to front-of-the-line (in the cafeteria, to go out for recess, to go to the library, etc.)
  • Get to feed the class pet for the week
  • 10-minute class pet playtime during the school day
  • Free homework pass
  • Reading Parking Pass (they get to read wherever they’d like to around the classroom)
  • Wear a hat in class
  • Free art class period
  • Get to use special writing/paper/art materials

I hope you've gotten inspired and excited with these example classroom reward systems from real teachers. My favorite? Is still the desk pets…which I may or may not have on my own writing desk at home right now (I'll never tell).

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Amanda L. Grossman is a writer and Certified Financial Education Instructor, a 2017 Plutus Foundation Grant Recipient, and founder of Money Prodigy. Her money work has been featured on Experian, GoBankingRates, PT Money, CA.gov, Rockstar Finance, the Houston Chronicle, and Colonial Life. Amanda is the founder and CEO of Frugal Confessions, LLC. Read more here.