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The Ultimate List of Free Rewards for Students

We agree that student rewards are positive, but they can be costly! Good thing that free student rewards can be just as motivating.
By 
Jordan Pruitt
 | 
July 26, 2022

Everyone has a highlight of their day. For some, it’s breakfast or lunch. For others, it’s their gym session. Maybe it’s in your classroom when you get to teach your favorite subject. Maybe it’s your planning period. 

My favorite part of my day is dropping my 6-year-old off at school. She’s in kindergarten and absolutely loves school. In the truck on the way we listen to some music, and occasionally play “I Spy”, but more than anything else we talk about her school days. 

She talks about what specials she's excited about attending, what they are learning in math and reading, and who she wants to play with at recess. 

But without really knowing it, she also talks about classroom rewards.

Everyday. 

She wants to earn the treasure box. She wants to be a line leader. She wants to eat lunch with her teacher. And of course, she wants to feed the class turtle!

Her teacher does a great job of providing many different ways for her class to earn rewards for positive behavior and citizenship in the school. They use a behavior management system like Live School to earn points towards these rewards, and she is very keen on earning them! 

What Are Student Rewards?

You have behaviors, actions, and achievements you wish to see in your classroom. Your students know what they are and how to meet those expectations. 

They also know that when they do, they will receive a reward that can take many forms based on their grade level and classroom culture. It could be tangible or intangible. 

Why Are Student Rewards Important?

Morale matters. The school day can be long. The school year can be much longer. You want your students to have a positive feeling toward your class and your school. 

You want your students to have conversations on the way to school like I have with my daughter. 

Students like to see their accomplishments praised. If they do right, they want to be recognized for it. 

This isn’t unique to children, teachers love to be praised for their hard work as well! We all like to be recognized and rewarded. 

Now that we agree that rewards are a positive thing for your students, you're probably thinking “but I don’t have the budget to give away prizes.” 

Never fear, the only thing that matters here is that your students value the reward. Not that the reward has any actual monetary value. 

Free Reward Ideas for Students

Keep reading for some ideas on how to reward your students for free!

Line Leader

This one has stood the test of time, it doesn’t require much explanation. Young students enjoy leading their class to their next destination, use it as a reward, and rotate it daily or weekly.

Age Group: Elementary

Feed the Class Pet

This one isn’t for everybody but if you're an animal lover consider getting a fish, turtle, or a snake for your class! Allow your most responsible students to feed your class pet and connect your class mascot to classroom activities.

Age Group: All

Classroom DJ

I always enjoyed playing music during any part of the class that wasn’t direct instruction. Let students earn the right to pick songs, playlists, or genres.

Age Group: All

Preferential Seating

Either as a seating chart exemption or as an actual improvement of the seating arrangement if you have access to bean bag chairs or special seating in your room.

Age Group: All

Lunch Bunch

Allowing students to eat lunch with their teacher is a big honor and lets you develop relationships with your students as they understand you are giving up your quiet lunch to spend with them.

Age Group: Elementary/Middle

Certificate of Achievement

Print off a certificate with your student's name on it and present it to students as a token of their achievement. At my school we write positive referrals and when the admin processes those they print the certificate to award the student.

Age Group: All

free printable certificate reward for students

Positive Phone Call Home

Schedule some time each week for positive phone calls. Whether you do 1 a day or just a few a week it will make a big difference. Set a goal to make a positive contact for each of your students each semester. 

Age Group: All

Tech Time

Allow students to earn phone or computer time due to positive behavior.

Age Group: Late Elementary/Middle/High

Early Lunch Dismissal

Have 1 student who has gone above and beyond? Consider allowing them to leave 1 minute early for lunch. This seems small, but it means that student won’t be waiting in the cafeteria line for lunch!

Age Group: High

Fresh Air

Has your class been exceptionally well behaved as a whole? Take them outside! Find a spot on campus suitable to hold class outdoors and take your class outside for some fresh air.

Age Group: All

Your Next Steps for Student Rewards

We would all agree that people should do their best and follow expectations on their own. Intrinsic motivation is a great trait to possess. 

But this is often the exception to the rule, not the rule for students. We can’t be successful only by reaching the self-motivated students. 

So a meaningful way to motivate students and raise morale is necessary to reach ALL students. How you accomplish this can look many different ways, and doesn’t have to cost you anything. 

I would layer your reward system if your school utilizes PBIS. By layer, I mean to reward both individuals and groups. 

Individual rewards in your classroom can be very specific to teacher preference or style. Whole class rewards like these class party ideas can be earned by the entire group. 

Then take it a step further and reward an entire grade level for meeting expectations. Even further still, advocate adding a few school-wide rewards to your schedule. 

If you can successfully layer the rewards in your room, team, grade, hallway, and school you will develop a school culture that is defined by the behaviors you are seeking to reward. 

Learn more about the author, 
Jordan Pruitt
 

We believe positive student behavior comes from the right school culture. Do you?

Join a community of 1,000+ schools who use LiveSchool to improve their culture with school-wide points tracking.
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We believe positive classrooms come from the right school culture. Do you?

Join a community of 1,000+ schools who use LiveSchool to improve their classroom management with school-wide points tracking.
Get a Demo →

We believe positive student behavior comes from the right school culture. Do you?

Join a community of 1,000+ schools who use LiveSchool to improve their culture with school-wide points tracking.
Get a Demo →

We believe PBIS improves school culture. Do you?

Join a community of 1,000+ schools who use LiveSchool to improve their culture with PBIS.
Get a Demo →

100+ Reward & Incentive Ideas

Your students have behavior points, and they are ready to spend! But stocking your school store isn't easy or cheap. That's why we create a data base of 100+ easy and mostly free rewards for students.
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