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SOESD / School Improvement Services / Positive Behavior Supports / Reinforcement Ideas

Free or Cheap Reinforcers

If you think of others, please let me know so I can add them to the list.

Note: Items and activities are determined to be reinforcers by the fact that they increase the likelihood of a behavior occurring again. What may be a reinforcing item or activity for one student may be a punisher for another student. It is important to collect good information to ensure that your intervention efforts are achieving your desired outcome.

Many schools have a weekly drawing. Kids put gotchas in some kind of container (we used a water jug with a side door cut into it). 10-15 kids are drawn out once a week (I wouldn't recommend Friday—it gets too hectic). Unexpected drawings can also occur at random for cinnamon rolls from the cafeteria, pizza, etc.

Auction - Use gotchas as bucks. We had quarterly auctions. A parent group solicited donations which we spread out over the year and augmented with free school coupons (lunch in the room with a friend: kids bring the lunch or order out for pizza, free time, free assignment, etc.) It is also good to have other options so it is inclusive, not just for those with the most money. Kids can save for another quarter if they can't compete this quarter. We had soda/popcorn/candy they could buy--some with gotcha bucks, some with real money. They could also play board games, basketball, etc. You can also have a silent auction held over a few days.

For Staff - Show staff this works by using it with them at staff meetings. (Point out that they like being recognized for what they do--even if they should be doing it anyway! Use candy with specific names to thank others: Lifesavers for helping out, Look bar for looking for good behavior, $100,000 bar or Kudos for other various acts. Give a good parking space for the month or car washes in the parking lot.

High School - Get inexpensive cards printed with "Thanks for Being Safe, Respectful, and Responsible" on them. This is a little more upscale and students will think it's more "cool." They can be put in a drawing as well, but it just has a more polished look.

Class Wooden Nickels - These are given by administrators as a class reward for 100% attendance, good cafeteria behavior, etc. When a certain number is collected the class can receive a special award such as the Red Carpet, movie, popcorn, ice cream, free time, etc.

Wall of Fame - Cover a wall with gotchas. When it is full, the entire school gets a reward (free time, music in cafeteria, etc.)

Game Shows - Consider using an opportunity to participate in a "game show" at an assembly in front of all your peers. Have a drawing that students can put their tickets into if they want to be contestants in the next assembly. Create a simple school version of Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy (possibly with school expectations as a category), The Price is Right, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, etc.

School Carnival Games - Access some of the school carnival games (possibly borrow from an elementary school) like a spinning wheel, bean bag toss, etc., to be used for drawing winners at lunch. Drawing winners get three tosses with the bean bag to win a prize, knock over pins with a real bowling ball, spin the wheel for a prize, etc.

Bingo - Put up a large bingo board. Drawing winners put their tickets on the board. When a bingo is created, all the people in the row have a pizza party.

Stuffed Locker/Trunk - Fill a locker or trunk with goodies. Drawing winners get a chance to open the locker and make a pick. Keep the contents secret and build the excitement.

Prize suggestions:
Student of the Week with digital photo posted on the wall
Coupons for video/game rentals or movie passes
Lunch with the principal or staff member of choice
Quarterly bingo - gotchas buy cards
M&M Machine
Front of the Line Fast Pass (with a friend)
Perfect Attendance
Free Time
Christmas Store/ Monthly Garage Sale/Student store - use gotchas as bucks/quarters
Pizza Lunch
Free assignment
Early to lunch with a friend
Computer time
School Dance Tickets/Athletic Events
Music in the room / over PA
Cafeteria discounts, coupons
Coupons from local businesses
Popcorn & a movie
Student socials
Student/Staff socials
Macarena Dance
Attendance Flags
Extra free recess/free time
Dodge Ball
Talent Show
Throw Pie/wet sponge/dunk tank during assembly
Eat Pizza
Potato Sack Race
Pie Fight
Hide & Seek
Air Band
Capture the Flag
Apples to Apples
Mini Golf
Teacher Dance Off
Listen to music
Three-Legged Race
Music CDs or Video Game Coupons
Sports Tickets to High School Games
Tickets to the Dance

One of the best ways to get more ideas is to ask the kids. Have student council come up with a list of inexpensive ideas that YOUR kids would like.

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