Getting the Most Out of Ticket Jar

I received free products from Oriental Trading Company in exchange for sharing my thoughts on this blog.

As a teacher, I have found that the more positive praise I do, the less negative I have to deal with. One of the best systems I have used is my ticket jar system. Most people have probably heard of a form of this. I do ticket jar every Friday. It’s a good system for me because it can be individual incentive and group incentive. Here are 3 tips we’ve come up with:

All Roads Lead to Rome: At first it seems like I have tons of different positive incentives, table points, house points, class rock party points, class activity time points, individual tickets. It is true, but the beauty is that these “different” systems all come back to tickets. (That will make things so much easier on you as a teacher., I promise)

Here is an example: My students sit in tables. They earn points for their table by transitioning quickly, working well together during a project, all turning in certain assignments. At the end of the day, whichever table has the most points, each person gets 2 tickets.  (Table points convert to tickets!)

Another example: If I have an important paper that I need signed and brought back, I use tickets to bribe students to take it home, get it signed, and brought back. Works every time!

Let Ticket Jar Feed Itself: I encourage students to make donations of toys they don’t want or random items that their parents are willing to buy at the dollar store. When they make a donation, I give them a ticket just for donating. Also, I promise them that I will put their ticket back if I pull it on that item. Mindy didn’t do this her first year and ran out of cool prizes really fast. Then she had no budget (of course!) for replenishing it, so it didn’t have near the power to motivate her students.

Be Cheap: It can be expensive handing out things each week. Here are a few tips on that too:

  1. Get students to donate (as mentioned above).
  2. Collect “cool rocks” on all your vacations, hikings, adventures, whatever. I teach 6th grade and they are really into a neat rock!
  3. Oriental Trading Company: They have cheap bundles of items. You can buy big mixed packets or a specific item that you know will be a winner. I recently bought a huge bag of sticky hands for less than ten bucks and I am pretty sure it will last the whole year!
  4. Dollar Stores and Thrift Stores: Dollar stores often have packs of pencils or candy. Just figure out the unit price to decide if it’s a good deal! If you get something from a thrift store, make sure it is clean or better yet, still packaged!

Parent Volunteers

I’ve been helping a friend plan for her first year teaching 6th grade. Here’s a letter we came up with to give to parents at the beginning of the year. We wanted to find a way to let parents/guardians help the class even if they can’t commit to a once a week in-class time. Here’s a draft of our letter. Any thoughts or suggestions?

Parent Volunteer Are Awesome!

Welcome to Miss ________’s 6th grade class! I’m so thankful to have the opportunity to work with you and your family to provide the best educational experience for your child. If you would be willing to help out our class this year, please indicate below. Thank you in advance for your help!

 Miss ____

  – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Student Name ____________________________________________________________
Parent/Guardian Name(s) __________________________________________________
Parent/Guardian phone number _______________________________________________
Parent/Guardian email ______________________________________________________

___ I’m willing to help in the classroom on a regular basis

         Day(s)/Time(s) that work best: _________________________________________

___I’m willing to help from home. Miss ___ can send things home for e to help with (cutting out laminated items, assembling packets, etc)

___ I’m willing to come on class field trips if needed

___ I’m willing to help with/come to class parties and special activities

About Me Test

About Me - Name Test STICKEROne important thing kids need to learn in kindergarten is their own personal information (name, phone number, address and birthday). Here’s a pretest you can give your kindergartners at the beginning of school to see what personal information they know about themselves.

Click here to download the free printable PDF: About Me – Name Test

“Get To Know You” Games

Get to know you games

Games are always a fun way to get to know other people and help break the ice. Here are 3 suggestions for your first day of school:

Ooga Booga: Have all company members stand in a circle with their arms around each other’s shoulders. All participants will look down at the ground and say, “Ooga Booga, Ooga Booga, Ooga Booga, look!” and look up at another person in the circle on the word “look”. If two participants look each other in the eye, they will leave the group and talk to each other. Repeat the game until two to three people are remaining. Make it fun by giving the participants a fun topic to talk about.  For example: “Talk about your favorite music/ice cream flavor/vacation.”

Do I Know You? Begin by numbering the company off by ones and twos. Have all ones create a circle, and have all twos stand in the middle of the circle. Have all twos find out a fact about another number two. Then each two will find a number one and tell each other the fact about the other number two. Ones will then go around the circle and try to find the person whom the fact is about by saying, “Do I know you? You like to read/are a twin,” etc. When all ones have found the person they are looking for, play another round. Remind them to ask and remember names.

Two Truths and a Lie: In groups of three to eight (depending on how much time you want to devote to this exercise), have individuals take turns making three statements about themselves—two that are true and one that is not. After an individual makes three statements, the other youth in the group discuss among themselves which statements seem most plausible and which one is most likely to be the “lie.” After giving the group time to talk about their decisions, the individual who made the statements not only tells which one is not true but also provides a bit more background about the truths.

Back to School Bus Bulletin Board

Back to School Bus- 1It’s always helpful to get to know your students at the beginning of the year. Here’s one bulletin board idea that will help each student express themselves and be a part of the classroom. First, have the students make their bus (using the directions in this post and printed on the page below the bus).

Click here for the free printable: Back To School Bus Bulletin Board

Decorate your bus according to these directions:

  1. Draw each member of your family inside the bus. Make sure to draw yourself in the first window. You may need to put more than one family member in a window if your family is large.  Use colors to decorate the people.
  2. Write your name inside the stripe in the middle of the bus.
  3. Draw each of the following things in the bottom section of the bus:
    1. Your favorite food
    2. Your favorite school subject
    3. Your favorite thing to do outside of school
    4. What you want to be when you grow up
  4. If you prefer ice cream instead of cake, draw stripes in the wheels. If you prefer cake instead of ice cream, draw dots in the wheels. Use your favorite color.
  5. Color in the top section of the bus (above the stripe and around the windows) using your favorite color.

Once all the students finish, have each student present their bus to the rest of the class. If your class is large, limit each student to 1 minute to share or allow students to only share their bus with those near them. Then put each bus up on a bulletin board and call it something clever (“Mrs. Smith’s Superstar Fleet”, “Travelling Down the Road to Success”, or something…).