Every August out of habit more than anything else, I plunked it down on my countertop and begged parents for donations to fill it up. My students get to visit the treasure box if they win Behavior Bingo. Over the years I started to resent the time it took them to dig through the box and find what they wanted. And I really started to resent how much space that treasure box took up in my small classroom.
So, I made the decision to ditch it this year. Of course, every little decision you make in a classroom has a whole string of follow-up decisions - what will I do with all the stuff in there? What will I do instead? What will happen to the box? How with the kids react? Well, let me help with that...
What will I use instead?
Every teacher living in the real world knows that you need something. Some tangible reward. We all want our kids to have that intrinsic motivation to behave and stay on task but let's face it - some 7 year olds have NOT mastered that behavior just yet. So, while I certainly encourage it in my kids and praise it when I see it, I also know I need something else that makes it more real for them. So what will get them excited instead of dollar store trinkets? Coupons! I started to add them to the treasure box a few years ago and over time they became the most sought after item in there anyway, which leads me to ask myself why the heck I waited so long to actually ditch the box they were in! Read more about my coupons and download some freebies by clicking on the picture below. I know some other bloggers and sellers can help you out here as well. Check out Mel D's great post here. I'm still tossing around ideas for an organizational system and I'll be sure to update you when I do.
What will I do with all the stuff in there already?
To me, it was junk. Plastic rings, pencils, little bottles of bubbles, rubber balls and bracelets... standard treasure box stuff. But there's a reason it's called a treasure box, right? That junky stuff to me is a kid's delight. So, I gave it to the kids! When cleaning out my closet, I found a whole giant bag of stuff for the box that I had never added, so I took all that loot plus what was in the box already and I divided it all up between 18 brown lunch sacks and started filling them up! There were a few items that I had 18 of (pencils, sidewalk chalk, rings, balls I had collected at a conference) and each bag got one. Then I just filled the rest of the bag with random things. Some were definitely girly (princess pencils, pink peace sign necklaces) some definitely boyish (Spiderman pencils, superhero tattoos) Not that a girl couldn't like those and vice-versa, but you know what I mean... No worries. I had a plan. I stapled the bags shut and we were ready to go.
I used Random.org to choose numbers from 1-18 and when their number was up, they got to pick a bag.
When everyone had a bag it was time to open. They seemed to dig it!
Then I told them if they didn't love everything in their bag, they had some options. They could trade 2 things with someone else and they could give 2 things away without getting anything back. They spent a good half hour checking out the goods and trading. It was a pretty fun experience, especially for the kids who felt like they didn't get to visit the treasure box often enough.
What will I do with the box?
That one was easy. I gave it to a newer teacher who I knew would put it to good use. You know the saying, one man's trash is another man's treasure? That's one of the truest statements ever in the halls of an elementary school!
So, what do you think? Anyone else out there trash the treasure box? I'd love to hear your thoughts!