Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Cuckoo for Cotton Balls!

This is so simple that I can't believe I haven't posted about this, but I also think it's hugely worthwhile.

I have a cotton ball jar in my classroom. I started with cotton balls and meant to upgrade to those craft puffball things, but never did, and I have to say- dollar store cup and cotton balls have worked just fine.

Photo Source:

It's not a new idea, at all. Many people use a marble jar or something similar, and kids get to add a marble whenever they get a compliment or do something exceptionally well as a class.

1 Compliment = 1 Cotton Ball

But I don't stop there. There are certain things that I think are worth more. For instance, a compliment from a lunch or recess supervisor? In my last job, that was ME- so it's definitely worth extra.

1 Compliment at Lunch/ Recess = 2 Cotton Balls

Another time that behavior is hugely important is a safety drill. For me, there's no talking, no excuses- and since it's so important, it's worth more.

1 Terrific Job During a Drill = 3 Cotton Balls

Annnnnd finally, the hardest time to behave- when there is a substitute teacher. To me, a day with a substitute teacher is really when I need my kids on their best behavior- so to show them how important it is to me, they can earn extra cotton balls.

1 Amazing Sub Report = 5 Cotton Balls
(a little less amazing means less cotton balls)

It's simple, really. I'm making the things that I value more also be more valuable to them.

Whether you do it with a "marble jar" or not, find a way to make it worth their while to be good when it's harder to be good. It works so well for my kids, and when they fill the jar, they get to choose a reward. (And if you play it just right, you can make the "reward" something you were going to do anyway- like my BFG Party!)


  1. I like this. I agree that some things do deserve more cotton balls. Thanks for sharing!

    Kelly @ I'm Not Your Grandpa, I'm Your Teacher

  2. at Jenny:

    Yes I stopped "grading" homework years ago. I also found after 4 years of teaching with homework weekly packets, that I feared they were sitting down Thursday night (or Monday night for that matter) and doing it all in one day. It bothered me because some of the homework (such as math and grammar)lessons weren't being taught until the day I put it on the homework. So guess what? That whole page was wrong and I spent many precious copies re doing it. after 14 years of teaching, I'm into the nightly homework (only two pages plus a reading log) to teach responsibility. I know families are busy but this way I can only hope they are also doing the flashcards each night as well instead of just on Thursday nights. Just a thought :)

  3. Love the idea of cotton balls rather than marbles!



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