Sweet! 4 Non-Candy Classroom Rewards on the Cheap

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Do you need a classroom reward that does not involve candy but is still super affordable?  Here are 4 ideas, on the cheap, that kids love!

Super High, High Five

We know that kids love high fives and fist bumps, but do teachers really like touching all those tiny fingers that have been inside tiny noses?  Here’s a fun, energetic alternative to to a traditional high-five, without the hand-to-hand contact.

This reward is similar to a behavior chart.  If the class as a whole, does a fantastic job, they are on “gold,” below that is “silver,” and below that, “bronze.”  If your class has a sad day, they are not ranked.

Here’s how it works.
  1. Place these three rankings vertically on a wall.  It helps if they are placed near the exit door.
  2. At the end of class, let your students know if they have ranked.
  3. As students leave your room, they each have ONE chance to high-five the paper with the class rank.  Place “Gold” somewhat high and almost out of reach so that students have more fun trying to jump up, and slap the correct paper. The higher the rank, the more fun it is to hit.
I love this system because it’s free, fun, and all I have to do is monitor them.  I like giving stickers to my students, but peeling and placing all those stickers on their hands can be time-consuming.  This is a way for students to reward themselves as they walk out the door.  Laminate the cards so you can clean them with a wipe.

Download a free printable HERE!
Silent Smelly

This is my go-to reward.  Remember Lip Smackers? I use these to reward students who have done a great job in class and who line-up quietly.  I don’t give them each a  stick, that would cost a fortune.  I just rub a little bit onto the backs of their hands.  Primary students LOVE smelling the fruity flavors as they walk out the door.  When class is over, they stand in line silently, with their fists towards me, ready for their reward.  If a student has been exceptionally good, I will dab both hands, or place a sticker on their hand and rub lip gloss over it, which turns it into a smelly sticker.   One stick will last for months.  Any fruity chapstick will do.  My last stick was lip gloss that smelled like the NERDS candy, before that, I used apple flavored Chapstick.  I tape a paper cover over the stick that says “Great job!” or “Silent Smelly” to hide the brand of the chapstick.   A sticky note will work very well with minimal cutting.  You can also download the graphic below and tape it on your lip gloss.  Download by right-clicking the image and saving it to your computer. Then print, cut, and tape.

Your Imagination
If you are really creative, you will have a blast giving away everyone’s favorite reward, your imagination.  Sometimes, I’ll throw an imaginary $100 bill in the air for a student to “catch.” Read about this reward in Sarah B. Elementary’s post.  She’s truly the queen of creative reward giving! Here’s a quote from her blog:

One of my go-to imaginary prizes is a cute baby animal. I would tell the student, “I’m so impressed with you that I’m going to put you in charge of taking care of this baby giraffe! Please take very good care of it. Remember to feed it, and put it to bed at night. I know I can trust you!” Then I would pretend to hand the baby giraffe over to them. If I’m really on it that day, I would check up on the giraffe later in the day.   …   You can give your students anything in the universe with this incentive! I’ve given kids a little sliver of the moon, the toenail of a giant, a bucket full of diamonds, the horn of a unicorn, a live crab, and so much more.


My primary classes compete with each other for smiley faces.  I have a list on the board, and whenever the class is behaving exceptionally well, I draw a smiley face next to their class name.  Students like seeing which class can get the most smiley faces, and they keep pretty close tabs on each other!  SMILES CAN BE TAKEN AWAY.  If a class is doing a “sad job,” I can remove smiles.  If there are no smiles to remove, they get a sad face.  This is so simple, yet effective. When I place a smiley face, kids cheer.  When one is taken away, the class is silent.  You can also give a class prize to the first group to reach a certain number of stickers.  For instance, they can play Freeze Dance when they have earned 7 stickers, but this is not necessary.

If you decide to try any of these ideas with your classes, I’d love to hear how it went.  I hope your students have fun with them!

Hello Music Teachers!

I'm Jane, and I'm here to help make teaching more fun and less stressful by sharing ideas for the general music classroom! I've taught general music since 2009 and now focus on early childhood music.



Boom Cards


  1. JC Little

    I don't have any students but I do have a few teenagers in the house. I'm thinking I might starting carrying around some “great job” lip smacker.

  2. Jane SillyOMusic

    LOL! I've only done it up to 2nd grade, let me know if that ends up working for a teen!

  3. sarahbelementary

    I’ve never heard of the high five strategy!! So simple and perfect!!

    • SillyOMusic

      Hope your kids love it!


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