Principal for a day: The student gets to make announcements in the morning, give the student body a special activity like extra recess during the day, eat a special lunch with the principal, etc.
Photo credit: Charlene A. Macneil
School secretary for a day: The student is allowed to answer the phone, take attendance, greet visitors and make visitor badges, and run notes to classrooms, among other tasks.
Ride in a police cruiser and tour of the police station: This incentive works best in a smaller town. Contact the information officer at the police station to make arrangements.
Morning with mom, dad, or other relative: Let a family member come in and spend an hour or two with their child at school. Arrange with the child’s teacher to allow the visitor to do a special activity and have a snack with their child.
Homework pass: Arrange with teachers to give the student one or two “no homework tonight” coupons.
School sleepover: The winning student gets to invite friends to spend the night at the school. The student’s family takes care of overnight supervision; as a bonus, ask the principal to stay late and come back early the next morning—with doughnuts.
Pizza or ice cream party: Offer the chance for a pizza or ice cream sundae party to the top-performing class. (Alternatively, if a teacher or principal prefers to avoid the distraction, offer coupons for those treats at lunchtime.)
Classroom or All-School Incentives
Teacher gift: Offer the class with the highest participation a modest gift for the teacher (for example, an Amazon gift card) in addition to the students’ incentive.
Extra recess: Check with the principal on what she’d allow (one extra period, every day for a week, or some other arrangement).
Pick a theme day: The class that performs the best gets to choose a dress-up or spirit theme for the school, like Hawaiian day, sports day, or silly hair day.
Game afternoon: Check whether the principal would allow the winning class to spend an afternoon playing board games or whether students can bring personal gaming devices from home (or a mix of both).
Movie time at school: Let the class with the most participation vote on a movie to show at school, and provide popcorn to make it special.
You’ll find ideas for cute and funny principal stunts (all adaptable for individual teachers, if desired) in “Fun Principal Incentives To Motivate Students.” Additional low-cost incentives, including some that can work as fundraisers on their own, are listed in “Low-Cost Fundraisers Can Mean Big Fun” by blogger Caitlin Tobin.