X Marks the Spot! Fresh Ideas for Using a Treasure Box

by Rachel Stepp

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For many years, teachers have had ‘treasure boxes’ in their classrooms to reward students for behavior, grades and much more. But when you’re on a tight budget, filling your box with desirable prizes can become difficult. Here are a few treasures that you might want to use in your classroom:

1. School Supplies

Each year, students are asked to bring in school supplies for the year. Sadly, there will always be some students that cannot afford the newest school supplies or even the basics. If you load your treasure box with school supplies, you are allowing students to get something that they need and that will benefit them throughout the school day. At the beginning of the school year, office supply stores often put the basic schools supplies on sale for just pennies! Examples include: pencils, scissors, erasers, notebooks, folders, markers and crayons.

2. Assignment Passes and Extensions

Give your students the chance to pass up a homework assignment or gain an extension on a take-home project. Simply print out homework passes so that students can skip a homework assignment. You can make different passes worth more if you are doing a points-based reward system in your classroom. Be sure to sign any passes that you make in order to keep them original (not that any of your little darlins are counterfeit artists, but I’m just sayin’…).

3. Extra Time Certificates

Sometimes students just need to spend a little more time one-on-one with the teacher to feel special. One way to do this is to have certificates that students can cash in to have lunch with the teacher. Also, students might want to have more time to spend at the library, on the computer or at centers. Why not give your students the opportunity to spend 5 or 10 more minutes doing something that they enjoy?

4. Parent Donations

If your school allows you to do so, ask your classroom parents to donate prizes to the treasure box. Give them a list of school supplies, small candies, stickers and other items that could be used in your box. Hopefully, you will have helpful  parents to help you stuff your treasure box. It never hurts to ask!

Sometimes toys are not appropriate for your treasure box because they distract the children, and they can get pricey. Get creative and think of prizes that could come out of your imagination instead of out of your wallet!

Rachel Stepp is a graduate student at the University of Georgia, currently working on a Masters in Early Childhood Education.



Filed under Behavior Management, Discipline, Motivation

6 responses to “X Marks the Spot! Fresh Ideas for Using a Treasure Box

  1. Amanda Smith

    Thanks for the ideas! I am a homeschooling mother and always looking for creative ways to motivate my children. I will use these ideas the best I can. Everyone needs to be rewarded for their hard work.

  2. Susan

    This is a good idea as teachers need all the help we can get with all the budget cuts. We are spending more and more of our own money at a time when a lot of people are unemployed or taking home less pay. We need to work together and help one another any way we can. Susan

  3. Kay Wallin

    Another idea is to shop the clearance and end-of season sales. Places that sell holiday decorations (Hobby Lobby, Michaels, etc.) always put seasonal items on sale. You can get sets of craft supplies/decorations/etc. for a fraction of the total cost. Many times, these places have clearance stickers that children also love!

  4. Latonya Glanton

    Wow! What great innovative ideas for stocking the treasure box. Due to the current cuts in school budgets and teacher salaries, it has become a daunting task to replenish the treasure box. I will definitely use some of these ideas when considering re-stocking our classroom treasure box.

  5. Rachel,
    Thank you for some new ways to stock my treasure box. I have trying to scrounge around and find some inexpensive things. I never thought about certificates for extra time, home work passes etc. Great idea. I also shop Target and Wal-Mart for their clearance items. Some year I got calendars in January for 10 cents. The kids loved them. They had puppies, horses, cats, etc. Sometimes, you can find some cute things very inexpensive. I make sure to ask parents to be on the look out for these cheap items at our Curriculum Night at the beginning of the year. I’ve had parents send in 20 little tubs of playdough that they found for a dollar at Target after Halloween sales. We do need to be creative during these hard economic times. I am going to add some passes to my treasure box today! Thanks for taking the time to share with us!

  6. ecossick

    Great article..and great comments! Peggy is our comment winner this go-round, earning herself a $20 School Box Gift Card. Peggy– you need to type up some of your great ideas into a 300-500 word article and e-mail them to editor@schoolbox.com. You’ll get to see them published on A Learning Experience AND earn a $35 School Box Gift Card. Now that would definitely help replenish the treasure box!