Choose the reinforcements
Behavior contracts are part of a positive approach to behaviors. Instead of focusing on what we can take away from kids when they make bad choices we focus on how we can reinforce their good choices. The fact is that we can only take away so much—there aren’t that many recesses in a day, field trips to miss, or times a parent will answer the phone when we call raving. Rewarding kids is a lot easier because there is almost an infinite list of ways we can reinforce them. Talk with a kid about what they want to earn—but make sure you have some ideas of what you CAN give a kid. All kids probably want $100 to spend at Target or a new gaming system but you probably aren’t actually going to give them that….
Students LOVE to earn time. A lot of my students work for free time on the computer. They get one minute of free time for every yes on their contract which they can cash in at the end of school every day. Some of my friends let kids earn double recess— the kids who get it are normally on a weekly contract. If their contract has been good all week, they can get double recess on Fridays.
I run a classroom store. My students can earn fake money for positive behaviors (yes I do print my own money. Hopefully Treasury doesn’t care too much) which they spend at my store once a week. I like using the money because I can also teach they about saving, financial responsibility, and how to count money. My friends mostly use a prize box.
With a store a student would earn money for positive behaviors on their contract. Each week they would have the choice to spend or save that money. With a prize box a student gets to pick out a prize every time they fill up their contract.
Stocking your store or prize box WITHOUT spending your money.
You need to keep your prizes/rewards fresh and you don’t make enough to keep buying stuff. New teachers are awesome and spend about half their paycheck on cool stuff for their classroom but I promise—sooner or later you are going to want to keep your money for selfish things like vacations.
Here is an important thing to keep in mind. Kids are not picky. Really. We think they just want the cool new toys but they like weird gifts they can give their parents, stickers, time with you, sitting on a bean bag…. After about a decade of running a store my take away is that kids like EVERYTHING. I have sold picture frames, stickers, scary mangy cat dolls, glass statues, pieces of paper, song lyrics, seaweed, and belts. So be open minded when you are stocking your store or prize box!
If you do decide to do a store you need to print your own money. Just as an FYI it is REALLY hard to get the money to copy correctly two sided. Run demo sets through the copier and try cutting them out before you copy. I made each of my students a “bank” out of an envelope that they keep in a hanging file folder with their teacher’s name on it.
Here are some places to print money:
Hit up co-workers
I like to blindly email my co-workers to get donations for my store. I get the most incredible donations from Barbie dolls to picture frames. Co-workers who are moving or having growing children are the best. They love getting rid of stuff and will bring bags and bags of things in for you! I once got an entire bag of sparkly purses.
Post on Facebook
My friend likes to post on Facebook that she needs kid stuff for her store and she tends to get some pretty awesome stuff. Don’t be shy. Really. People want an excuse to spring clean.
Sell copied/printed coloring pages
Print off a bunch of popular singers/superheroes/cute animal coloring pages. Make a few copies and sell them. We also make copies of the pretty mancala style pages that older students like.
Places to get printable coloring pages:
Sell song lyrics
This sounds weird but kids really like to buy song lyrics. For a price, they can tell you what lyrics they want you to print. We sell each song’s lyrics for $10.
Places to get printable song lyrics:
Students LOVE coupons. You can sell coupons for writing in pen, sitting in a teacher’s chair, getting a phone call home—pretty much anything! I keep mine in a binder. There are lots of pictures on the internet of fancy, color printed and laminated coupons in cute bins. If you have that much time, more power to you. Mine are black and white copies in sheet protectors in a binder. It took me about ten minutes to set up—including the copying and cutting.
Places to get free, printable coupons:
- Sanchez Class Coupons
- Progress Cards Coupons
- PB Works Coupons for Rewards
- Franklin Elementary
- We Are Teachers Coupons
Go back to behavior contract resources
Go back a step to: Decide what behaviors you want to focus on
Go to the next step: Make the contract