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Prize Methods & Reward Systems

Last Updated on January 25, 1998. New Method - Balloon Pop!
We use a lot of different prize methods during the year at our kids program. We use one for a little while, switch to a new one, and after a while, switch to a new one again. This helps keep the element of surprize for the kids.

We give away a lot of prizes too. We do this for two reasons.
  1. We want the kids to know we love them, and want to bless them.
  2. We want to reward positive behaviour.

Here are some ideas we use to give out prizes.

Wise Buy Bucks

This is our Most Effective, and by far the most popular way of giving out prizes that we use. I got the idea from a friend, who also is very creative in Children's Ministry. (Thanks Jonathan) Play money, call a "Wise Buy Buck" is photocopied. I usually fit 4 or 5 bills on a sheet of paper. Kids can earn bucks by sitting quietly, cheering, doing actions, answering questions correctly, or any other way I can think of. Kids save their Wise Buy Bucks until the end of the month, when we open the Wise Buy Buck Store. This is a large sheet of plywood with prizes stapled to it. Different toys have different values. Our lowest priced item costs 3 Wise Buy Bucks, and our highest is 10. Kids learn to save their money, and how to spend it wisely. We not only have toys at the store, buy also practical items like Children's Bibles, Books, Mittens, etc. The kids will do just about anything to earn a Wise Buy Buck!
Sucker Tree

I make a Tree shape using poster board, or coragated paper and put it overtop of a sheet of styrophome. Then I poke tons of holes everywhere. Next I fill those holes with a sucker. I colour the tips of about 5 suckers with a black marker. I insert them into the tree holes in various locations. The shape of the thing doesn't have to be a tree. I have changed it according to the season, e.g. a Snowman, a Sunshine, etc. This is how it works. During the program, if kids are sitting quietly, or being loud when it's time to be loud, I choose a few kids, now and then, to come pick a sucker. (Always have a leader supervising the kids who are picking suckers) If the sucker has a black tip, they get to choose a larger candy or prize. If it does not, they get to keep the sucker. They are reminded about rule #4, that says, Save your prizes until the end. This includes all candy prizes.
Punch a Prize

I made a punch board similar to the one on "The Price is Right" where the contestant punches a circle, and pulls out a dollar amount. The difference is, the kids pull out a prize. I made it using formica, (although cardboard would work), 24 applejuice cans, duct tape, poster board and tissue paper. If kids sit quietly, they may get a chance to punch a prize! Prizes are handed out throughout the program for kids who are following the rules, and for any other reason we can think of.
Pick a Number

I have a set of numbers from 1 - 99 that are made of formica. Each number is painted on a separate card. The cards are aprox. 5 inches square. I usually on use 30 cards, because that seems to be enough. I put the cards up on a wall using that white sticky stuff that looks like gum. It works great! On the back of a few numbers, I put a post-it note. On the note I write "candy" or "prize". When kids are following the rules, or are a volunteer for something, they get a chance to pick a number. If the number they choose has a post-it note on the back, they get what the note says. If it doesn't have a post-it note, I say "sorry, try again". (It's too much work to put "sorry, try again" on post-it notes on the empty cards.) The next time I use this method, I plan to include bad prizes too, such as a pie in the face, or a bucket of slime poured on them etc. It will add a bit of excitement I think!
Wheel of Destiny

I've heard of other groups using this idea, and I think it's good too, although I haven't gotten around to making one yet. Make a wheel out of wood. Kids spin the wheel. The sections on the wheel are both good, and bad. They could include 10 Wise Buy Bucks, Candy, Prize, Pie in the Face, etc. When kids were following the rules, they might be chosen at some point to spin the Wheel of Destiny!
3 Strikes Rule

This method can be used along with a prize method. This idea is used more to keep the noise level down, when kids get a little loud, as a group. Put 3 red balllons taped to the back of a chair, or a pole, or whatever, on the girls side at the front. Then put 3 blue balloons displayed the same way on the boys side at the front. When the girls or the boys are all talking, or whispering when you are trying to talk, pop a balloon. The loud noise will get their attention, and they will stop talking right away! The Rule is, once all 3 balloons are popped, the other side gets their snack plus the snack of the side who lost all their balloons. For example, if the girls are talking, pop a balloon. If they are still talking later on, pop another one. Warn them, they only have one left, so they better behave! Finally, if necessary, pop their last balloon, and the boys will get their regular snack, plus the snack you would have given to the girls.
Just a note: I have never actually had to pop all three balloons. Just the fact that it is a possibility is usally warning enough for the whole group to stop talking when they are supposed to be quiet!
Balloon Pop!

You will need about 15 - 25 balloons. Before they are blown up, insert a small piece of paper with a message on it. The message will be one of these 3. "Sorry, no prize" or "Candy Box" or "Prize Box" . Then, with the paper inside, blow up the balloons, and tie a string on them aprox. 3 feet long. The more colours the better! To pop the balloons, I took a push pin for a bulletin board, taped to the the end of a plastic straw, and taped several colours of curley ribbon to the other end of the straw. It looked much fancier than a plain old pin. When kids are sitting quietly, select one to come an pop a balloon. Then they can read the message, and be rewarded accordingly.

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