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If you give out incentives, you know that middle school students get bored with some of the incentives that they loved in elementary school. So what's the solution? Get creative. Some of the ideas below won't even cost anything. (Free? Free? Did she say FREE?) Give the students variety. Change your rewards every so often, or put them in a basket and let the students choose.

bulletUse your computer to create coupons that the students can use for free test answers, half off a homework assignment, a guaranteed "A" on a quiz, one extra day to complete a homework assignment. etc. You can also create coupons that give students a choice:  1 pencil, 10 sheets of paper, or 10 index cards. You'll have to set limits as to how they can be used, but I promise the students will love this idea.  

bulletNo Homework Coupon (PDF)
bulletDon't have time to print and cut the coupons?  Want a more professional look?Get personalized business cards for free at  VistaPrint.  Make the business cards look like homework coupons. 


bulletIf you order from Scholastic or Troll book clubs, use your free points to buy books that the students will enjoy taking home. Give these out for large rewards. Or reward the students with points and let them buy the books once they have accumulated enough points.  At Christmas, they sometimes run specials where you can buy coupons for 95 cents that the students then use to order books.

bulletReward the students with lunch from a local fast food restaurant. The students can still pay for the lunch, but you can get a parent volunteer to go get the order and deliver it for you. It would be easiest to do all of the rewards on one day of the week or month.

bulletReward the students with a pizza party. Once you have awarded enough students for one or two pizzas, do the actual party. The students can still pay for their lunch. You can provide the soft drinks. If you let the students eat in the cafeteria, they will attract attention. Perhaps you could place a sign on the table indicating why they were allowed to have pizza.

bullet Check with your local fast food restaurants for free food coupons. Many of the larger chains have these on hand just for teachers.

bulletPut a sticker of the student's first initial on a good paper. Put both initials on a great paper. (Even my 8th grade boys put the stickers on their notebooks and lockers. The one year I taught 9th grade, the boys were begging the girls for stickers that matched their initials so they could wear them on their football uniforms.)

bulletUse your computer to create free early dismissal or late arrival passes. (Get this approved by your principal first.)

Get personalized business cards for free at VistaPrint.  Make the business cards look like special passes.  

bulletGive out sports cards. If you buy them in quantity, they are cheaper. Also, sometimes you can get these by writing the teams and asking for some. Occasionally you can even get them autographed.

bulletCheck with the local video and electronic game rental stores. Sometimes you can get free rental coupons. Be sure to tell the manager why you want the coupons.

bulletCheck with the local movie theaters. They sometimes give out free movie passes. (Don't forget to mention you are a teacher.)

bulletOrder a supply of pencils or pens with special messages. They are usually cheaper if you buy in bulk.

bulletUse your computer to create dollars or tickets. (Tie the name to your team name or school mascot--Hawk Bills, Scholar Dollars, Blue Bucks.) When you give these out, the students will need to save them until the end of the quarter, semester, or year. At the end of the specified time, let the students spend their dollars in a store that is supplied with goodies. (Some of the other ideas will work as the goodies.) The actual cost of the goodies will be higher, but you will need fewer. An alternative to the students saving the actual dollars is to set up a bank with an account for each student. (There's a great math lesson here.)
bulletGet personalized business cards for free at VistaPrint.  Make the business cards look like tickets.  



Oriental Trading can supply you with pencils, candy, and incentives of all kinds.  



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This site last updated 14 November 2007.

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