Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Encouraging Appropriate Behavior Through Class Incentives

As the school year winds down, my students need extra incentives to participate appropriately and stay on target.  Okay, so who am I kidding...my staff and I do, too!!  We have found just the thing that motivates our afternoon group and keeps them working like the little Buddy Bears we know they can be.  Several of them are really into Jake and the Neverland Pirates, a cartoon on Disney Junior. 

In the cartoon, Jake and his friends earn Gold Doubloons for completing various missions. So I created a social story about how we will work as a team like Jake and the Neverland Pirates to earn Gold Doubloons as a class.  



The story goes like this. . .

We work as a team like Jake and the Neverland Pirates.  
We use kind words.
We use gentle touches. 
We listen to our teachers.
We share with our friends, and help each other. 
When we are kind. . .
we earn Gold Doubloons. 
If we earn 25 by the end of the day
we get to see what is in the treasure chest. 

At the beginning of each day, we read the social story to remind the students of our mission. Then the teachers hand out Gold Doubloons for good behavior and kind acts throughout the day.  The Gold Doubloons are gold tokens my wonderful para, Miss Molly found at Hobby Lobby for $3.00.   

As the students earn the Gold Doubloons, they place them in our Jake and the Neverland Pirate Treasure Box.  



My son got the box for Christmas as part of pretend play set.  I bought the set at Wal-mart for $14.97.  

I strategically place the treasure box on top of a high shelf. The students have to use their gross motor skills to climb on top of our large group bench to add their tokens to the treasure box. This puts the children in an organized movement pattern as they place their Gold Doubloons in the treasure box and then return to the activity asked of them. 




When we started this system, I was not sure how it would go.  Would the children get distracted on their way to and from the treasure box?  Would the distraction make the incentive program more trouble than it was worth?  Well, the answer for this particular group of students is "no"!  It is just what they needed.  It provides them with a little movement and sensory input that helps them regroup and increase attention spans. 
  
At the end of each day, we count our Gold Doubloons by attaching them to our paper mache’ treasure box I got at Hobby Lobby several years back.  Each gold doubloon has Velcro on the back to make it easier for the class to see if we met our class goal. 



As it turns out, it is a great one to one counting activity and is highly motivating for the whole group.  If the class earns 25 Gold Doubloons to cover the front of the treasure chest, they get to see what is inside the chest.  Sometimes, it is a small candy for each of them. Other rewards may be mini oreos, marshmallows, pencils, stickers, or a note that lists a special activity the children can play for the last 10 minutes of school. . . bowling, pull tubes, a 10 minute educational video, etc.  

Instructor's Insight: The key to the success of this system is the element of surprise.  Children love to work for the mystery of the unknown.  If I told them what was in the chest, some of them may lose interest.  To make sure the chest continues to stay motivating, I often put choices inside.  For example, “You may choose a smelly sticker or a Hershey kiss today.”  By providing choices everyone continues to be excited because they have the power to choose and it is more likely that they will like at least one of the options in the chest.  

Because I often put choices in the treasure chest, I can also add an academic element.  I have the students sign up for which choice they want.  Wow!! This has been motivating kids that usually resist writing their names.  



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