We all know that every student is not intrinsically motivated. So how do we celebrate learning and motivate learners without breaking the bank? A few years ago, I had the idea to decorate student name lanyards with pony beads to acknowledge growth and celebrate learning. It has grown into an amazing way to motivate ALL my learners. Want to know the secret? Here you go!
First off, decide how detailed you want to go with your incentive bead rewards. It might be easier to focus on one subject or maybe just a few awards to see how you like it. I’ve linked all the beads and lanyards in my Amazon shopping list.
Here’s what you need:
So, how does it work?
In my classroom, I have a cart set up with all the beads and materials. I have my awards and animals aligned with my first grade standards for reading and math. I also have a few rewards for behavior. I’ll explain more about all of these in just a bit. Students demonstrate mastery of a skill or strategy, for example getting your lips ready and giving the initial sound of an unknown word, and they earn a fish bead for their lanyard along with a certificate. Why the certificate? When students earn the beads, they immediately want to take their lanyard home and show their family. This might work for your school and students, but unfortunately, my students didn’t remember to bring them back consistently. So I take pictures of them with their new bead and send a certificate home to celebrate the learning.
Behavior and Expectations
My students proudly marched around the school with their lanyards and loved when anyone stopped them to ask about their “rewards”. I would love to tell you that during instructional time they weren’t an issue, but for a couple of friends, they couldn’t keep their hands off them. Those students were always given a chance to wear them to carpet time, but when it became a distraction, they removed them and left them in their work area.
Rewards for Meeting Expectations
Setting routines the first few weeks of school is SO important! To reinforce positive behaviors for those meeting or exceeding expectations, they earn additional beads. I used letter beads to reward students during Reading, Writing and Math. Each day the students met or exceeded expectations, they earned a letter for that class period until they spelled out the subject word. For example during independent reading time, if they read the whole time and didn’t talk to their neighbors, they earned the letters READ. Students of the month also earned star beads to go with our school theme. These of course can be adapted to meet the needs of your classroom. This is just what worked for my room.
So what’s the deal with the animals? Primary teachers love visuals to go with our learning objectives, right? We love helping our students anchor their learning to symbols so they can remember them easily and apply them when necessary. Many primary teachers already have common reading strategy animals like “Tryin’ Lion” and “Predicting Pig”. So, I created a few more for reading and math linked to beads I was able to find. These are all strategies we already teach so it isn’t adding anything extra; it is just adding a visual animal or mascot to remind students of the new learning and allowing them to just be a KID! I have Beanie Baby animals that match these strategies that I like to put on display as well in my reading area. Whatever it takes to remind them, right?
Ready to celebrate?
If you are interested in using my posters, certificates, or display labels, I have the links ready below. This set includes over 100 pages of different designs, sizes, and blank templates for you to align the goals to your curriculum.
What exactly is included?
- Directions and Organization Guide
- Shopping List
- 9 Math Strategy Posters (Full Sheet Size)
- 9 Math Strategy I Can Statement Posters (Half Sheet Size)
- 9 Math Strategy Awards (Boy and Girl versions of awards if applicable) (Half Sheet Size)
- 12 Reading Strategy Posters (Full Sheet Size)
- 12 Reading Strategy I Can Statement Posters (Half Sheet Size)
- 12 Reading Strategy Awards (Boy and Girl versions of awards if applicable) (Half Sheet Size)
- Mini-posters for a display for beads (9 to a sheet)
- PowerPoint Template so you can edit and make your own posters and certificates
Animals Included (Again you can buy beads from Amazon or Michaels)
- Sneaky Turtle
- Seal-y about Shapes
- Whale-y Good at Measuring
- O-Fish-ally Comparing Numbers
- Brainy like a Dolphin
- Bear-y Good at Place Value
- Elephant Sized Counting
- I know 120 numbers
- Exceeding Expectations in Math
- Tryin’ Lion
- Flip it Like a Dolphin
- Stretch like a Giraffe
- Crashin’ like a Rhino
- Lips of a Fish
- Cat-ch the Picture Clues
- Dog-Gone Good Predictions
- Zip Past it Zebra
- I know 100 Sight Words
- I Know 200 Sight Words
- Exceeding Expectations in Reading
- Exceeding Expectations in Writing
- Over the Hump