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27 PBIS rewards for middle school students

Amanda ClarkApril 14, 2020

27 récompenses SCP pour les élèves du secondaire

As an educator, you know how important Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) can be to improve student behavior. In earlier blogs, we looked at ways that you can offer tangible PBIS rewards to your students.  This time, we’ll take a closer look at incentives that are suitable for middle school students!

As a middle school teacher for over 10 years, I know this age group has its own particularities, and I love them! For example, a sticker chart just won’t cut it. You have to create incentives based on your students’ interests! !

Of course, coming up with ideas takes time. That’s why we’ve put together an extensive list that will save you the headache of doing it yourself! 

27 practical PBIS rewards and incentives

1. Going out to lunch

Food is the way to a lot of peoples’ hearts, including your middle school students. That’s why going out for a healthy lunch is a logical incentive for good behavior. This can be as simple as going to a Subway restaurant or taking your students to a Chinese buffet. Pass the chopsticks, and don’t forget to choose healthy options for PBIS food rewards!

2. Team-building sessions

Check for local team-building centers located near you. Activities like rope courses can be another great incentive to motivate students. Make it a group goal that can benefit the entire classroom community, too!

This motivating system promotes unity and positive interactions with peers — essential concepts for middle school students. And, according to research, team building promotes critical thinking and active learning.

3. Teacher playdate

We know you’re busy. But before you roll your eyes at this one, you should know that a teacher playdate can be loads of fun if done well! You only have to plan one or two a year and you can lessen the burden by making this incentive something that you enjoy, too! Perhaps you’re a fan of bowling or hiking — if so, great! View this PBIS reward as a win for both you and your students.

4. Students choose their seat for the day

As you know by now, kids hate assigned seats. Why not let your middle school students choose their own seats for a day? The behavioral motivation will skyrocket when they’re given this extra bit of freedom. And, you won’t have to lift a finger once your kids earn free seating! (Just note that you might want to make it temporary!)

5. Earn an extra dance

Oh, the memories of middle school dances spent box stepping to All-4-One’s “I Swear.” Okay, a bit has changed since then — but middle schoolers still love school dances! So why not let your kids earn an extra one?

You can base this dance on behavioral points and make it a class goal.

6. Field trip to an amusement park

Dangling a trip to an amusement park will get any middle schooler’s attention. Now, we’re not talking about Disney World here — Six Flags or a local water park would work just fine!

The idea of a field trip, whether it’s big or small, is bound to get your students excited about this classroom reward!

7. Chew gum!

I’ll bet your students wish they could chew gum in class! Let them! As long as they realize they have to earn this privilege. Allow your students to chew gum for a day or a week in class — your choice.

This middle school PBIS incentive will stick and pop.

8. Pick the next assignment

Kids crave control. And like us, they want to make decisions. So why not let them pick the next assignment? You’ll need to have guidelines in place, like providing them with a list of options they can choose from.

They’ll be happy to earn more control over what they’re learning, and you’ll be glad to decrease your workload.

9. Mentor

Student mentors are useful, and kids enjoy being role models. Create an incentive that allows a middle school student to mentor a younger child. This could include helping them read, checking their work, etc. Middle schoolers are often eager to help. Let them! 

10. Choose an outdoor class activity

Kids like to work outside. Heck, even we like to work outside. Allow a student to choose an outdoor activity, or let your entire class earn a day of lectures outside.

11. Extra recess

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Yeah, that may not be the best grammar for an educator, but that’s the way we feel about extra recess. An incentive that allows students to blow off steam is always a winner (and has been for years).

Tag — you’re it!

12. Break choice

In the past, we’ve looked at some creative classroom management ideas that you can try with your students. And in that post, we discussed the importance of brain breaks.

Your students will learn more and enjoy class if you allow them to rest. For a reward idea that’s easy as pie, let your middle school students choose the next icebreaker.

(Pssst, this is also a break for you!)

13. Hall monitor

Middle schoolers enjoy responsibilities, and being a hall monitor is oh-so wonderful! Even if you don’t have a monitor system in place, you could choose one student to earn the job for a week.

Armbands: optional.

14. Locker switch

You probably have a few empty lockers in your school. If so, let the kids know those unused lockers are up for grabs for a locker-switch incentive!

After letting your rowdy middle schoolers know about this PBIS class reward, be prepared for silence and good behavior!

15. Extra computer time

Middle school students love technology, so why not allow them to earn extra computer time? Of course, you’ll need to set guidelines, but the opportunity to hop online for a few more minutes of Classcraft will have the kiddos quiet in no time. 

16. Pajama day

Middle schoolers (and teachers) like to feel comfortable. And what’s more enjoyable than wearing a pair of pajamas to school as a PBIS reward? Your students will jump at the opportunity to sleep in for an extra  30 minutes.

17. Crazy hair day

Students will go crazy for the opportunity to jazz up their hair. Let them go nuts for a day and see what happens! 

18. Drop a quiz grade

Students care about their grades. But life happens, and one way or another, a student may end up doing more poorly on a quiz than they should have. Give your students an opportunity to drop their lowest test score, and they’ll jump for joy! 

19. Class party

Give your class an incentive for a party and watch them pull together to make it work. They can chill out, eat a cookie cake, and listen to some tunes. Plus, this earned party would be a lesson you don’t need to plan for.

Have you noticed that we’re all about lessening your workload?


Intrinsic motivation: 
The key to tiered intervention

When students care about their behavior, a good tiered intervention program becomes great.

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20. Teacher’s helper

The term “teacher’s helper” sounds important enough as it is — make it official! Allow students to become your trusty aide. They can hand out papers, choose the music at the beginning of class, erase the chalkboard, etc.

This may sound like a lot of work to you, but to a middle school student, it’s an opportunity to move around during the day and act like an adult.

And again, this PBIS incentive helps you as well!

21. Piñata time

Who doesn’t like a piñata? Fill it with goodies and place it behind your desk as a reminder of what your students can earn. Once they win, give ’em a bat and let them swing away!

Afraid of the sugar high? We get it — PBIS food rewards should be done in moderation and only if the food is healthy. Pro tip: Fill the piñata with funky pens, pencils, and erasers.

22. Take a hike

We’ve already mentioned that kids love to be outdoors — offer an incentive for a hike! Instead of sitting at their desks in class, your students can be on the Long Trail studying nature and roasting s’mores or having a picnic lunch while taking in the breathtaking views. Trust us — everyone will benefit from the fresh air.

23. Swimming

Warm weather calls for pool parties. What if you offered your students the opportunity to go to the local water park or pool? They’d earn that reward in no time.

24. School supplies

Have a box full of school supplies for easy and quick incentives. Examples include pencils, erasers, scissors, and anything else that your students constantly lose. Yep, count it — another teacher and staff win.

25. Tardy excuse

Punctuality, while desirable, is difficult in practice. Occasionally, students will be late. If you’re tired of hearing another made-up excuse, why not give them a legit one? You’ll still need guidelines in place, such as how late they can be — but getting one excused tardy could be an excellent incentive for many middle school students.

Plus, this one will make a few parents happy, too.

26. First one to leave

Students are excited at the end of the school day and may have trouble getting through the crowded halls. What if you offered a PBIS incentive for them to be the first one to leave that day?

Use their eagerness to your advantage!

27. Choose the next book

This sounds like an incentive just for English teachers, but it’s not. Let kids earn the next book to read — within reason, of course (Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club is a bit over middle schoolers’ heads).

This PBIS award could work in any subject. For math, offer the option to read biographies of mathematicians: they earn the right to pick.

Of course, our vote goes to Einstein. 

Make behavioral learning fun!

Middle school can be a hard time for students. They act out a lot because they’re trying to find themselves during their physical and mental development. Take control of the situation and make student behavioral learning fun by using one (or more!) of these 27 PBIS incentives.

Good luck on your PBIS journey!

Photo: Google for Edu

Better middle school PBIS begins with better implementations

Download your free PBIS implementation guide to access best practices and an implementation checklist to build a better program in your middle school.

Download the guide now


Better middle school PBIS begins with better implementations

Download your free PBIS implementation guide to access best practices and an implementation checklist to build a better program in your middle school.

Download the guide now