Tag Archives: reward ideas

Student Certificates

Teachers are often too busy throughout the day to remember to hand out little rewards or certificates to those students who have done something worthy. Usually positive words are the sole way to reinforce positive behavior. However, it is nice for a student to receive something more concrete so they are able to present it to family members with pride. If the teacher cannot hand certificates out regularly, make a point to do so each quarter. On report card day before the teacher hands out the report cards, have a number of certificates to hand out. The teacher can have two or three standard certificates every quarter, but then add new ones and different ones each quarter, as well to keep the surprise. Don’t feel every student must get a certificate every quarter. If all students earn certificates, it eliminates the feeling of a reward.

Some ideas to use for certificates include the following:

  • students who have done the most extra credit
  • students who had no late work all quarter
  • students who had only one late assignment all quarter
  • students who reached their reading goals
  • students who performed their class job well and regularly
  • students with consistently clean desks
  • students who are the most improved in a certain area

Every class will most likely be different depending on the activities the teacher has set up in the classroom. Some of the certificates can be followed with an extra reward. For example, the students with no late assignments may get a “no homework” coupon with their certificate. Students with one late assignment will get just the certificate. The teacher can also include a bookmark with the reading goal certificate.

Tips: Do not announce to the students what efforts during the quarter will earn certificates. The teacher may want the reward to be given for honest effort and work, not simply to receive a certificate. That’s why changing the certificates each quarter, except for a select few, will promote honest efforts.

If the teacher wants to give certificates out more often than once per quarter, a neat trick is to have some generic ones ready. (See below to download award certificates.) Fill in the student’s name and your signature ahead of time. Put two in the plan book each week. This will remind the teacher to find something that student did particularly well that week. The certificate is then ready for the teacher anytime. He or she just needs to fill in what the certificate was for.

End-of-the-Year Certificates
In addition to the quarterly certificates, try doing end-of-the-year certificates in which every student receives one. These are fun, personal certificates that reflect something that student may be known for in the classroom. Some of these can be funny as well. Some examples include the following: the most artistic, the trivia guru, or the most improved in a certain area. (Note: These categories will change each year depending on the dynamics of the class. This is a fun, positive way to end the school year.)

Handy certificates to download and hand out:

Award Certificate
Grade Advancement Certificate
Farewell Certificate

In addition to handing out end-of-the-year certificates, download and hand out the form below to students so they can assess the year for themselves. Keep a copy for yourself — it will prove very enlightening for you!

What I Have Learned This Year

For more sample student award certificates, check out these teacher resource books:

More Ideas for Rewarding Good Behavior

Classroom Coupons
Why not create coupons to give as rewards for good behavior, special efforts, good work? Coupons could be for eating with the teacher, a night off from homework, having lunch with another class, moving one’s desk to a preferred spot, etc. Coupons are a fun way to reward.

Compliment Box
Have a special box for just compliments. Encourage students to write a compliment when they catch a classmate doing something nice. At the end of each day, read each note aloud and then, give the notes to each student who was complimented. This tactic can build up students’ self-esteem. You might want to keep a list of those who receive notes in order to make sure that each student gets a note from time to time.

To make this technique work, you must have a pocket folder for each student. On the first day of a two-week period, students are given a set of homemade money, cut and stapled in a durable envelope with their names on the front. Students will, initially, write their names on the back of the money. Set up a system of values.

Students can lose money for the following reasons:
$ ___ no pencil
$ ___ no homework
$ ___ chewing gum
$ ___ eating in class
$ ___ running in the hall

Students can earn money for the following reasons:
$ ___ a clean desk
$ ___ a good grade
$ ___ bringing homework
$ ___ being helpful

Adjust rules as you wish. Have an end-of-the-period sale. Provide small items that the students can purchase such as stickers, books, pencils, etc., or even a no-homework night.

Rewards at No Cost
If you do not want to always buy things as rewards, here are a few reward ideas that do not cost anything.

  • be first in line
  • draw on the board
  • use the computer
  • no-homework-night pass
  • go to the library
  • be the teacher helper
  • do work at the teacher’s desk
  • move desk to another place
  • read to a younger class or student
  • have extra center time
  • go to another room for lunch

Zip the Lips
Make a large set of lips, complete with zipper. Cue in your students that when you make a zip motion over the lips, the meaning is the following: “Zip your lips.” In other words, get quiet!

Fishing on Friday
Want to have good behavior during the week? One way to encourage following rules is to have a special surprise. First, obtain a small fish bowl. Place the students’ names in the bowl if a student was good for the week and followed all the rules. At the end of the week, have a drawing. Have some type of special treat or prize for the week’s winner.

Smile Face Reminder
Sometimes it is hard to remember to smile. Make a large smiley face and suspend it from the ceiling. When you notice it, it will be a great reminder to stay positive.

Be Human
Students need to know that teachers are human, too. Everyone makes mistakes, even the teacher. Sometimes it is effective to deliberately make a mistake in order to let the students react and correct! When using this approach, be careful that you do not let students get away with being disrespectful. Students respect is a necessary component of good teaching.

Silent Signals and Signs
Silent signaling to your class is always a plus. To silently signal to students that they should stop talking, create a signal light. Put up the red signal when they are too noisy and need to be quiet. Put up the yellow signal when they can talk and share in low voices. Use the green signal for saying talking is all right. If money is no problem, purchase a small stoplight through a teacher supply company.

Other proven methods involve using hand signals. A thumbs up can mean “excellent” or “I’m proud of you.” Work with your students to develop signs. This can be a fun way to talk about people who are deaf and how they communicate with each other.

For more ideas on rewarding good behavior, check out Creative Classroom Ideas: Ways to Motivate, Manage, and Spice Up Your Daily Routine.