Top 10 Free (& Cheap) Rewards for Students

Are your students getting straight A's, demonstrating kind behavior, and turning in homework assignments on time every week? The rewards in this top 10 slideshow will show your students that you appreciate their diligence in the classroom and will encourage them to keep up the good work. Best of all, most of these ideas are free! New teachers will find this resource particularly valuable.
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Certificate of honor
Awards & Certificates

Awards and certificates for good behavior, perfect attendance, stellar performance, and a special achievement are just some of the ways in which you can thank your students for their hard work and notable actions. Find a variety of printable awards and certificates—many of them customizable!—you can use in the classroom.

Extra Credit

No matter what grade you teach, your students will appreciate a few extra credit points added to a test or homework score. Use our Excel activity on computing grades to show your class how a few points can really make a difference in their overall grade.

Girl doing homework
Free/Late Homework Pass

Students are very appreciative when they are forgiven a missing homework assignment. These printable passes make it easy for you to give out this reward. If you'd rather show students that all assignments are important, give out late assignment passes instead, where a student can turn in homework past the due date without being penalized.

Free Quiz Pass

Even more valuable than a homework pass is a quiz pass. If students have been doing exceptionally well in one unit or subject area, a great reward would be to let them skip a quiz. This reward should only be used for students who have clearly shown they understand the topic.

Colored Penciles
Small Trinkets & Candy

Check out your nearby flea market, garage sales, or dollar stores to pick up some small and inexpensive toys to reward your elementary students. Pencils and other school supplies are a good option for older students, and used books are always appropriate. Of course, students of all ages love candy, so some individually-wrapped pieces are nice to keep on hand.

Homework on chalkboard
Homework-Free Weekend

If you tend to give your students homework every weekend, a great reward for a class that has been attentive all week is a homework-free weekend. You should reward yourself this way, too; tell your students they've been so good, you're taking the weekend off from grading papers!

Boy on monkey bars
Extended Recess

Children love recess, and there's a good reason—it allows them to socialize with classmates without the stress of the classroom setting. Reward your students with an extended recess one day to show them how much you appreciate their good work. Or if you don't normally have recess at all, try some outdoor games that are educational enough to pass for a lesson.

Two girls studying outside
Hold Class Outside

Holding class outside is a great way to spend those first warm spring days when it feels like torture to be in the classroom. This reward would most likely work best with literature classes, where lessons are based largely on discussion. You might have a difficult time keeping your younger students' concentration in check, but high-school students would likely be able to focus in a new environment.

Popcorn or Ice Cream Party

Have your students been exceptionally well-behaved for an extended period of time? Did everyone in class get a B or better on your last test? Spend an afternoon throwing a popcorn or ice cream party, complete with a movie or games! It will feel like a real treat to students. Tie your activities into recent lessons, as well. If you just finished reading Romeo & Juliet, show the movie to your class. Just completed a tough unit on DNA? The movies Gattaca and Jurassic Park are good choices for high school students (both rated PG-13).

To save money on the treats, ask your students to bring in microwave popcorn from home, if they have it, or buy a large bag of kernels and pop it the old-fashioned way. It's much less expensive.

Boy on cell phone
Call to Parents with Positive Comments

A simple phone call home may not seem like a reward, but parents will be ecstatic to hear your positive comments about their child. No need to spend a long time on the phone—just a few minutes detailing your student's great behavior, grade improvement, or kindness is enough to show you sincerely appreciate parental involvement. Your students will love knowing their teacher and their parents are proud of them!

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