75 Student Incentives that Build Relationships and Don’t Break the Bank

Teachers are consistently providing positive reinforcement to students that meet behavioral or academic goals or make a milestone achievement. These incentives and motivators don’t have to break the bank of a classroom teacher that is already likely spending personal funds on other items in their classroom. Here’s a list of ideas to build relationships with incentives or rewards without breaking the bank!

  1. Send them to the principal with a positive office referral. Celebrate that positive office referral by posting a picture on the school Facebook page or sending it home to parents. Share the accomplishment in school or classroom newsletters or at morning announcements.                      
  2. Give them a handwritten note expressing why they are a great kid!                  
  3. Give them a hug or high-five.
  4. Have them ring a bell or sound a classroom alarm when they score well on a test or meet a goal.
  5. Name them student of the month (if your school has one)
  6. Share their accomplishment in your classroom or school newsletter/social media page
  7. Frame their art work in a display in the school or office
  8. Present them with a traveling class trophy that sits on their desk for pre-determined amount of time
  9. Spray water guns or launch water balloons
  10. Allow them to record the school voicemail message
  11. Allow them to read morning announcements
  12. Let them greet other students at drop-off
  13. Make a positive phone call home while the student is standing with you! That’s sure to make both the student’s and the parent’s day!
  14. Have the class give the student a special cheer
  15. Take their picture, print it out, and have their classmates write kind words and phrases about them around the picture.
  16. Take their picture and e-mail it to their parents when they meet a goal! This is my little cutie in first grade and the picture her teacher sent me when she completed a level on her classroom “Super Improver Wall.” You can learn more about the Super Improver Concept through Whole Brain Teaching by clicking HERE
  17. Eat lunch with your individual students or small groups of students in the cafeteria or invite them with a formal invitation to eat in the Principal’s Office.
  18. Invite the whole class to eat lunch in the classroom.
  19. Have a black out day and use flashlights and LED lights to complete work
  20. Go to gym class with your class. They’ll get a kick out of it!
  21. Greet them at the door wearing a funny costume, hat or shirt.
  22. Allow a student to choose the classroom read aloud book
  23. Allow students to choose the activity in PE
  24. Take a Birthday Selfie and send it to their parents
  25. Take a #selfieoftheday and send it to their parents
  26. Allow a student to sit at your desk for the day
  27. Allow the students to sit under their desks for the day or class period
  28. Allow them to have a special chair at their desk for the day. Could you paint an old stool, bedazzle and old rocking chair, paint a used dining chair and then rotate it around to classroom?
  29. Allow a student to teach a lesson
  30. Allow students to be a student teacher. Give them a special seat, name tag, coffee cup, and pens to use as they get to make choices for the classroom for the day.                                                 
  31. Establish a classroom brag board. Place pictures of students on the board when they meet a goal or celebrate an accomplishment
  32. Allow students to earn the privilege of being a member of the classroom hall of fame. Hang their picture in a sacred spot that is never taken down!
  33. Read with them.                                       
  34. Allow them to read with a buddy
  35. Allow them to read with a younger student.
  36. Allow them to read with the principal!
  37. Have a reading camp-out
  38. Hold class outside
  39. Take a class walk to a local park or nearby point of interest
  40. Ask the superintendent to call the student’s family to celebrate their success.
  41. Allow students to write in pen for the day
  42. Allow students to write on classroom windows with dry erase markers
  43. Allow students to write on their desks with dry erase markers
  44. Put a button or name tag on them that says, “Ask Me Why I am a Cool Kid” or other special saying.
  45. Put a button or name tag on them that says, Class VIP
  46. Allow them to wear a staff lanyard
  47. Have a dance party
  48. Have an extra recess
  49. Go to recess with them
  50. Play a game of knock-out
  51. Play a board game with them
  52. Allow “brain game” time and allow them to play critical thinking games
  53. Choose a Go Noodle song
  54. Have a “Balance a spoon on your nose” contest with kids.
  55. Coordinate a ride to school in a firetruck, police car, or other fun source of transportation
  56. Tweet their favorite author
  57. Technology time
  58. Homework pass
  59. Allow them to email a preferred person: social worker, principal, parent, former teacher.
  60. Allow them to tell a favorite joke to the class
  61. Allow them to help the custodian
  62. Allow them to help in the office
  63. Leave a post-it note of encouragement on their desk or in their planner
  64. Draw a picture of them (if you are artistically inclined)
  65. Allow them to create their own virtual lego character
  66. Provide a dress up or down day: Pajamas, No Shoes/Stinky Feet.. ect.
  67. Allow them to bring their favorite stuffed animal to school
  68. Allow them to bring a special beverage from home to have with snack
  69. Stop the class to celebrate a major accomplishment! Make it a big deal!
  70. Let them be the first to line-up
  71. Let them be the first to go to lunch
  72. Let them be first to get on the bus
  73. Let them be the first to go to a specials class (art, music, PE)
  74. Give them the opportunity to choose a seat for the day
  75. Celebrate 1/2 Birthdays for summer birthdays! Take their picture and send it home!     

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