Positive behavior incentives have a great effect on classroom management. That said, how far should the positive behavior incentives go? I wrote about some that you could use here. Today, I’m addressing the infamous classroom treasure box. How do you manage it? Should you even have one? How on earth do you afford even a cheapo classroom treasure box in 2022? I’ve got you—read on.
Pros and Cons of a Classroom Treasure Box
Let’s start with the basics, shall we? Whenever I struggle to make a decision, I make myself a pro and con list. This will help you decide if you even want to tackle a treasure box.
- Kids love a good incentive. I have a classroom treasure box for my reading intervention groups, and they love it. Knowing they can earn something for good behavior at the end of the week helps motivate them to work hard for me during the time I have them. Sometimes it’s a bummer for kids to have to join an intervention group—treasure box sweetens the deal.
- Tangible rewards are easy for kids to work for and understand. Coupons are great, but they may not provide enough instant gratification. When students know they can pick something they can hold in their hands when they work hard, they may feel more motivated to try.
- FOMO is another big motivator for kids who may not be able to earn treasure box. When students struggling to self-regulate see other kids with rewards, they might be inspired to work harder.
- Rewards are fun. It’s nice for students who always do the right thing to be rewarded for their efforts. We spend so much time and attention on those children who can’t keep it together, that our easy-going friends may get lost in the shuffle.
- Treasure boxes can give you an opportunity to give kids items to help them focus. You can slip some discreet fidget toys in your classroom treasure box so kids can pick something to help them self-regulate.
- Classroom treasure boxes are expensive. They didn’t used to be. Back in the day a year ago, you could go to your local dollar stores and stack up! Now things cost SO much!
- You’re giving out junk toys. These clutter rooms, desks, cubbies, and backpacks.
- Some people/teammates/admin/parents consider treasure boxes bribes and don’t like this incentive.
- You need consistency among teams. If one teacher uses treasure box, then everyone should. It may seem unfair for kids with one teacher to get “treasures” when other kids do not.
I’m sure you all can think of more pros and cons to add to this list. We could argue this one to the moon and back and never come to a consensus.
Managing Your Classroom Treasure Box
Let’s just say that you’ve decided to implement this behavior incentive because for you, the pros outweigh the cons. Great! Now let’s figure out how to manage it.
Number of Visits to the Classroom Treasure Box
Unless you’re rich, I would make sure I only let kids visit on Friday afternoons after a great week. Some of you give treasures to your class daily, particularly if you have little people. Incentives may not mean much to tiny folk when given out once per week. It takes too long to get the incentive. I still think we can limit the number of trips to the treasure box to twice per week, even in the case of little kids.
Limit the Allowed Time to Choose a Treasure
Have you ever watched wee folk try to pick a toy? It takes forever! You have to start at lunch to get them all through! Maybe that’s hyperbole, but still! This type of incentive takes lots of time, and you have to limit how long kids get to paw through the goods. Treasure box is meant to decrease behaviors to increase your instructional time. Don’t let this incentive take away your time on task!
Find the Treasures
This is the tricky part. Where on earth do I find gifts I can afford? Even Dollar Tree costs $1.25 now! Here are a few tricks I use.
- Visit the party store or the party section at your local big box store—bulk birthday party favors make good treasure box goodies, and you get can quite a few for under $8.00.
- Save your kids’ old fast food toys. Check out their outgrown toys as well.
- Pencils, erasers, and bookmarks work well. Grab some of these during Back to School sales.
- Visit your big box stores the day after major holidays: November 1, December 26, the day after Easter, and July 5 generally mean sales on holiday themed treats and toys. I’ve filled bins with ½ priced holiday/winter erasers, spring-themed spinners and squishies, and patriotic funky glasses and spinners.
If you really want to get some cool stuff, visit these affiliate links below:
Finger Flashlights These are just cool and multi-colored.
Squishy Toys: These squishy animals are so much fun for kids to collect.
Pop Bracelets I love these fidgets!
Finger Skateboards: Self Explanatory, but you could be setting yourself up for distraction in class.
Bulk Shaped Erasers: Kids like to collect these, and they aren’t too distracting.
Random Grab Bag of Junk: Because let’s be real about what this treasure box thing really is!
There you have it, Friends! The pros, the cons, the ups, the downs, and the management of treasure box incentives in your class. Check out some of my reels and posts on Instagram @connectionsinclassrooms and let me know whether you’re using a treasure box and what’s in it!