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6 IEP Goal Progress Rewards to Keep Kids Motivated

Keeping kids motivated to power through the struggles that come with IEP goal progression doesn't have to be expensive or challenging. It can be narrowed down to a few key items that are valuable to your students and make them want to work just a little bit more or just a little bit harder.

The concept of classroom economies has been around long since I went through school. There are lots of theories on whether to include edible items, the healthy nature of those items blah blah blah. The bottom line is to find what your kids like, every child is motivated by something different. For some, it's fruit snacks while others it might be a bendy toy with googly eyes.

Rewards for your students don't have to cost a lot. Here are six your students are sure to love and so will your wallet.

1. PENCILS - I'm always surprised at how popular pencils are. I have mine printed to read "Stolen from Mrs. Hicks" and the kids think it is the funniest thing. I give away at least three a week (5 class bucks).

2. PENCIL TOPPERS - The various dollar stores have good prices on pencil toppers, but I mostly keep an eye out for great back-to-school sale prices. The one pictures above I scooped up 144 pack for $8.50 at Oriental Trading Company; they will for sure last multiple years. Since I teach Math I always find students in need of erasers so it is a way to keep them responsible as well (2 class bucks).

3. STICKERS - A sheet of stickers, especially silly ones never go out of style, no matter how old your students are. Caution: only buy what you will need on hand as they do dry up and may not hold up over time. Not good to buy roll stickers with a seasonal theme... they might not last till next year. Keep them sealed in airtight bags to keep them fresh.

4. BENDABLE TOYS - I bought these on a whim and who knew they would turn out to be this year's hottest item (15 class bucks).

5. HOLIDAY THEME - A small toy variety can be bought the year before just after the holiday on clearance. Plan ahead and save a ton of cash with clearance holiday items.

6. LANYARDS - I never thought this would be a high sales item with boys but after one year of tracking, I found that boys bought these 2:1 over girls. Sports themes and school logos are good for high pricing.

The secret to my success with my classroom store is changing it up monthly. Over time I have built up a supply of about 20 or so items. None of them more than one dollar apiece and most under fifty cents. Every month I pull out my box of supplies and let the students decide what 10 items they would like to be working for this month. That's not to say that everyone will get their item, they are simply choosing what might motivate them in future lessons. Once all 10 items have been selected they are stapled to a bulletin board in Ziploc bags with a price associated with each one.

When I teach middle school grades versus elementary school I often let them help construct the pricing model. For example, if a googly-eyed toy cost me $.50 to purchase out of my own money I would divide the cost by four and that would be my posted price converted into classroom dollars (12). At an earning the rate of one classroom dollar per work session a student who was on task for 12 consecutive sessions could purchase this reward. Surprisingly this is the highest rated item in my sixth-grade classroom store this year. The most highly coveted item to date has been my Halloween squishy toys in the shape of a mermaid, a unicorn and a narwhal (25 class dollars). I have several students counting their classroom dollars daily in anticipation of reaching the coveted $25 mark. It has sparked quite classroom competition, so much so that I purchase a second pack so that no one is let down if one is purchased before they reach their $25.

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