When it comes to whole class rewards, it can sometimes feel as if the options are both limited and limitless. Finding a reward that the whole class will get excited about and work toward can be a challenge. The expense is a common concern. Rewards that are appropriate for all students is another. It’s a fine line to walk, and that’s why for some classrooms, whole class rewards come in the form of food.
The Problem with Using Food as a Reward
Food-based whole class rewards have fallen out of favor in recent years, and with good reason. The Standard American Diet (SAD) has been the focus of an increasing number of nutritional studies, with disturbing conclusions. As a result, there has been a push to improve nutrition in schools, effectively eliminating the use of food as a reward. Some of the concerns surrounding food-based rewards include:
- the “easy” choice of unhealthy snacks
- development of unhealthy snacking habits
- food allergies
The shift away from food as a reward has left some educators searching for healthy ways to recognize good behavior exhibited by an entire class. Fortunately, with a little creative thinking, whole class rewards can be just as exciting and satisfying as an old-school pizza party.
How to Give Whole Class Rewards that Aren’t Food
Food-based whole class rewards are now the exception and not the norm when it comes to rewarding an entire class. So how do you reward the accomplishments of a class without using food? Here are a few ideas:
- Crazy Sock Party – Theme parties are always a lot of fun, and crazy socks are a big hit with kids of all ages. Combine the two for a reward that the whole class will look forward to.
- Extra Recess – Elementary students, in particular, can benefit from extra recess as a means to burn off energy. This extra recess can even take shape as a class-wide game outdoors.
- Eating Lunch in the Classroom or Outside – A change of scenery at lunchtime is a special treat. Allowing one class to eat their lunch somewhere besides the cafeteria is a great way to build community among a group of students.
- Story Time – Share a favorite grade-level story that has no lesson plan attached. A story is a great way to take a break from class work.
- Whole Class Project – Who says a class can’t learn something at the same time they get a reward? A community service project that the class chooses and develops can be a whole class reward that pulls double duty.
- Special Class Visitor – Enlist the help of your principal, a community leader, or other local “celebrity” to come in and speak with your class. Special visitors are always a treat.
- Extra Credit – Who doesn’t like giving their grades a boost? Offer up extra credit points and allow students to choose the subject or assignment to which they are applied.
- Extra Art Time – Most students enjoy art and feel as if they don’t get enough time to explore it. Extra time spent doing art can be a powerful incentive.
- Field Trip – Everybody loves a field trip! Some field trips can be as close as a neighborhood walk. Others might require a bus ride. No matter what you choose as a whole class reward, offering a field trip is sure to get buy-in from all of your students.
- Board Games – Pull out the board games and organize students into groups for a little competitive fun. And as a bonus, some board games can help to reinforce concepts you have taught in class.
- Movie Party – There are age-appropriate movies for every grade level. If you’re looking for one that teaches positive themes, you have a lot of choices. And no matter what, kids enjoy a movie.
- Pajama Day – A hit with teachers and students alike, wearing your PJs to school is the ultimate in comfort. You could even have pajama-themed activities throughout the day, depending on the age of the class.
The Ultimate List of PBIS Incentives
These whole class incentives are just to get your creative juices flowing. Check out The Ultimate List of PBIS Incentives for over 230 PBIS incentives ideas for your entire PBIS program.