Some of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had while sorting through donations to Schoolhouse Supplies have been discovering items that teachers can use as incentives to reward and motivate their students. The dictionary defines incentive as “something that incites or tends to incite to action or greater effort, as a reward offered for increased productivity.” It is also something that stimulates achievement, and provokes excitement. An incentive encourages creativity and commemorates success. It motivates and empowers.
Everybody has a hard day occasionally, or an exceptionally good one. A little token can make any kid feel special, celebrate a goal that has been achieved, or feel “perked” for a job well done or a challenge overcome. Teachers who shop at Schoolhouse usually rush to these items first, storing them up for those days when their students need an extra reward, or deserve a little commendation.
Sylvia, a veteran volunteer at the Schoolhouse sorting station, recently told me, “Try to put yourself in the mindset of a school kid. They want to feel special. Incentives don’t have to be expensive, sometimes it’s just a shiny little token they can show off to their friends, or bring home to brag about. Something that a 6, 7, or 8-year-old would consider cool or awesome. Try to think like a kid and you can pretty much anticipate which incentives would be cool to get.”
The following is a list of some items that you may have in your home, office or classroom to donate that might make a perfect incentive for a student.
1) Brightly colored coins
2) Sports equipment – small rubber balls, or small sports-related items, especially if they have some type of inspirational motto printed on them
3) Squeeze toys (but not those that make distracting noises)
4) Drinking glasses or cups that are brightly colored, decorative, or unusually shaped
5) Small logoed items such as wrist bands, hats, supplies, toys, educational items, and toiletries that carry some kind of logo or message related to achieving or success.
6) T-shirts, hats, and hand warmers
7) Motivational badges, buttons,magnets, buttons, mouse pads, writing pads or charts
8) Keepsake boxes and pouches
10) Growing toys that expand
11) Trophies, badges and ribbons
13) Puzzles and fun books
14) Posters and borders that students can hang in their rooms at home
15) Motivational stickers
16) Fun and unusual pens and pencils
17) Stencils and rubbing plates
18) Glitter bottles and kits
19) Craft kits with cord, twine, straw, and sticks
20) Small white board and dry color markers
21) Pinball or Maze games
22) Plush toys and finger puppets
23) Bouncy balls and poppers
24) Plastic bracelets and necklaces or finger rings
25) Neon or unusual piggy banks
–Rob Winike is a former teacher and technical writer and current Schoolhouse Supplies volunteer.