Whether you’re trying to supplement your prize box with sugar-free alternatives, or you’ve completely committed to non-food incentives, the items below should help you narrow down your search. They are all relatively inexpensive, and most will be appealing to even the most discerning upper-elementary and middle school students. Hopefully, the curated list will be a time-saving source of inspiration as you research different prize ideas!
Kids are using stickers more than ever to express themselves. Laptops, skateboards, helmets, and water bottles are covered in bright sticky graphics. Stickers are an excellent and inexpensive addition to your reward system. You really can’t go wrong by purchasing a bundle of stickers. I recommend checking all the stickers before putting them into the prize rotation. Some inappropriate stickers have been known to sneak into the most innocuous bundles.
Scented Gummy Bear Highlighters
I think it’s fair to say that engagement improves when a lesson involves highlighting text. Students love highlighters, and they work well for scaffolding instruction. Add scented gummy bear highlighters to your prize bin, and you will be a hero in the eyes of your students.
Multi-Colored Retractable Pens
Like Harry Potter or Scrabble, retractable multi-colored pens will never go out of style. You simply can’t go wrong with this classic pen! They are available in all sorts of colors and sizes. The pens shown in the picture remind me of the clear phones that were extremely popular in the 1990s.
When it comes to flashlights, there are tons of different options to choose from. I prefer the flashlights with the key ring attached so students can hang them from their backpacks. In addition to the prize bin flashlights, these are a great option if you ever want to try flashlight reading with your students.
High-flying bouncy balls are another nostalgic favorite of mine. When I was a child, I can remember slight moments of panic when I thought I might have lost my prized bouncy ball due to excessively high bouncing. Your students will love these, and the variety of colors should please the whole crowd.
Hopefully, this list has inspired you to think outside the box when it comes to incentives. I’m not against using candy, but I do think it’s important to have a wide-range of options when using prizes with students. Supplementing your reward system with sugar-free items adds variety and fun to the whole process. That’s what it’s all about anyway, right?