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!   

Stickers

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. 

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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. 

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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.    

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Puzzle Erasers

Erasers are fun are their own, but a puzzle-eraser combo takes fun to the next level. To be honest, I love anything miniature, so I’m partial to these adorable animal-shaped erasers. How can your students NOT like these little gems of the eraser world? 

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Happiness Journals

Why not encourage and support writing skills with a happiness journal? These mini-journals are perfect for students to add some positivity to their day!  

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Erasable Pens

Students don’t always get to write in pen, so when they do, it’s usually a special treat. These erasable pens are cute and practical. They’re sure to be a hit with all ages! 

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Mini-Flashlights

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. 

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Squishy Toys

I like to think of squishy toys as the new and improved stress ball. Kids seem to love them and they are relatively inexpensive, making them an ideal option for student incentives. There are tons to choose from online. I liked this set because of the bright colors and fun animals.

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Monster Pencils

These are just plain fun. Students will love the scary monsters, and the colors are so bright and vibrant! They would also work well as a fun Halloween gift.

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Light-Up Rings

You might be surprised to see light-up rings on the list, but students really seem to love them. You can even find sets that light up AND glow in the dark!  The different colors and animals included in this bundle make it a versatile choice. 

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Friendship Bracelets

I’m not sure if friendship bracelets ever went out of style, but they are definitely trending now. All different types are in vogue, so any style you go with is probably a safe bet. 

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Colorful Zipper Pouches

Fun and functional! These colorful zipper pouches are perfect for school supplies, and the small size will work well in your prize bin.  In addition to the small zipper pouches being great for incentives, the larger size can be used for organizing classroom supplies.

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Popsicle Bookmarks

If we aren’t giving them sugar to eat, we can give them sugar to look at! These popsicle bookmarks are sure to be a hit with your students. They make for a bright and fun addition to any book!

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Globe Squeeze Balls

Reinforce geography with globe squeeze balls! Along the same lines as the squishy toys, these are perfect for students of all ages. They would also work well for students that need a moment to refocus or relax. 

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Sticky Notepads

Sticky notes aren’t just for adults. Kids can use them too! Colorful and fun-shaped sticky notes can be used in so many different ways! They are perfect for writing a quick note or holding a place in a book, and they don’t take up too much space in a pencil box or supply pouch.   

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Snake Blocks

The puzzle options are endless with these magic snake blocks. Manipulating the blocks into different shapes supports critical thinking and fine motor skills. Plus, it’s a fun way to pass the time. Students will love the challenge!  

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Emoji Poppers

Good things do come in small packages! Can’t you just hear your students laughing when these tiny emoji figures start popping into the air? They top my list for a prize bin must-have.  

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Light-Up Tops

Another tried and true classic, the light-up spinning top is sure to entertain students. Even if it only holds their attention for a couple minutes, it’s worth it! I refer to these tops as the 2.0 version because they light up. We didn’t have that when we were kids! 

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Sequin Keychains

Keychains are a great addition to the prize box because students like to display them on their backpacks. These sequin keychains come in several different designs and colors, making them work well for a wide-range of grade levels! 

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Bouncy Balls

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.

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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?

Classroom Rewards Ideas
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Classroom Rewards Ideas
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