Sunday, February 13, 2011

On bribes. Erm, I mean, prizes.

Just thought I'd share a little school-y tidbit that we've been making use of for several years now. Our prize box. A more organized blogger would have a picture of the box now. But I haven't any pictures. So just try to picture looks like this....

...only red. And it's an older lego box, with a lid that closes tightly, not like these new-fangled lego boxes that are good for nothing much once the legos are taken out.

Anyway, the prize box sits on the top shelf of the school room closet. Maria and Kain each have a sheet with a 10 by 10 grid on it. It's their catechism drill sheet. Our curriculum, you see, has them memorizing catechism questions and answers every year from 1st grade through 8th grade. It can get a little...tedious. So, we drill a set of questions every day, and for every one they can recite they can put a sticker or check mark or whatever on their drill sheet, and for every 10 boxes checked off they can pick a prize out of the box. They both love this. Kain will *beg* me to do religion. You'd think there was gold in that there box. Jack doesn't do catechism drill yet, being only in kindergarten, but he does memorize poetry, and so I give him a check mark for each day he recites poetry for me and he can pick out a prize after four check marks, which comes out to once a week.

What to put in the box...that is always a challenge. The kids often suggest things. My rule is that nothing in the box costs more than a dollar. Frankly, even that can add up quickly. Depending on the question line-up,,,that is, whether the questions for a particular day are learning brand new ones or reviewing old ones,,,they can earn 1-3 prizes a week. Plus, finding prizes that appeal to older kids,,,mostly Maria, but increasingly Kain too...that's trickier.

So, what's in our box? Here's some common findings---

-Dollar Tree finds, obviously. This is especially good for little kids, but I also pick up little bottles of smelly lotions and potions and such that Maria likes.

-Many stores, like Target and Walmart, have a dollar section too. Also look for multipacks of things that might cost more than a dollar, but you can open them up and break them up. Especially look around the holidays. Yesterday I picked up little tubes of bubbles, notebooks, colored pens, plastic slinkies, and stickers in the Valentine's section at Walmart. They were $3 a pack, but had several items in each pack. I've also picked up things like this on clearance after the holiday, like those bath baskets that go on clearance the day after Christmas. Buy them up, cut them open, and you've got several items for your box.

-Also stock up at the beginning of the school year on fun school supplies...markers and cute notebooks and that sort of thing.

-I try not to do candy. But sugarless gum is good. Pick up the multipacks to keep your price down. And many times I have put a few pieces of Halloween dregs in snack bags and thrown them in there. And sometimes I will pick up some cute holiday candy on clearance, just for something different.

-Itunes songs. Not thrilled about this one now that they have raised their price per song. However, Kain is interested in some songs off the Christian music station and I see this as a constructive way to guide his taste in music away from the stuff his dad listens to (yikes).

Even Maria, in her "I'm 14 years old and nothing excites me" stage of life, loves the prize box, even if just on principle...everyone loves a freebie. She helps me look for items when we are shopping, and she will often use her points to get something out of there for Tess or Jack, which is very sweet.


Tiny Actions said...

Oh this is a great idea. We just started with memorizing the cathechism and this would highly motivate Princess. Thank you for taking the time to post this.

Anonymous said...

I love this idea, Mel. I have done some less organized bribing, um, motivating, in the past and I have always been surprised how much less painful it makes the drilling for the children. I've always meant to get around to institutionalizing it--thanks for such a great and simple idea. Now, you did cause me to panic, though. I also use MODG but my syllabi are old ones...they don't have any Catechism memorization in 7th and 8th grade! So the current ones do require it? I think it is one of the best aspects of this program; I'd be concerned that my 7th graders is missing out... :( J.C.

Maria said...

Hmmm...yes, our syllabi have the catechism for 7th and 8th. I'm not sure about the old ones. I have an old 7th grade one upstairs someone gave me, I'll have to look and see what it has,,,now I'm curious!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Maria. :) I'm going to have to look into this... I wonder how they changed it--whether they have you memorize the same questions over a longer time or whether they just added more questions to memorize. My daughter isn't going to be very happy if I start up on the questions again! --J.C.

mel said...

I hope you see this, J.C....they don't require memorization in 7th grade. I'm sorry, I forgot that already, haha, and we just did 7th grade last year! But they pick it up again in 8th for a bit.