Friday, January 13, 2017

Why Your Classroom Needs a Magic Sticker Box

If you've read the About Me section of this site, then you know I used to be an elementary school teacher. And I loved my classroom. It was like my second home and I filled it with as many fun things as I could, for my students and for myself  (I am still a kid at heart, you know). A friend of mine recently mentioned how much her 8 year old boys love stickers as incentives, and it made me remember my Magic Sticker Box. Do you have a Magic Sticker Box at home or in your classroom? If you don't, let me show you how easy it is to make one, and why you need to have one!


What is a Magic Sticker Box?

A Magic Sticker Box is a positive incentive box. I know a lot of studies out there tell us that students don't need extrinsic rewards to succeed, and to that I say, BALONEY! Okay, okay, not every child needs rewards, but everyone needs a little fun in their lives. Even adults! A Magic Sticker Box is a fun, inexpensive way to say good job, I'm proud of you, you worked hard, I recognize your effort, cheer up, I care about you, Happy Birthday, thank you, congratulations...do you see where I'm going with this? You can use it for anything and everything.


Unlike certificates and prizes, children don't need to reach a goal to use the Magic Sticker Box. You can use it that way, but it doesn't need to be achievement based. It can just be part of your daily routine.


How Do You Make a Magic Sticker Box?

It's so easy. You get a box, You cut a slot in the top big enough for a little hand (and maybe your hand) to fit through. Tape the top on the box with clear packing tape (I'll tell you why in a minute), cut up little squares of stickers (you can buy the ones that already come in squares off of rolls, or cut them from sheets). Then, fill up the box with stickers. It's as simple as that.


Now, I HIGHLY suggest that you decorate the box. It has to look magical and appealing! And although it might take you a little while to decorate, it's worth the time and effort and will last a long time. Do you see how faded mine is? It's probably about 15 years old. I used a good quality box (you can even buy one of those photo boxes from a craft store and use a packing knife to cut the slot, but that's up to you).


How Do I Use a Magic Sticker Box?


We used the Magic Sticker Box in so many ways in my classroom, but here are just a few examples:

  • as a whole-class reward for good behavior or listening skills
  • as an individual reward for behavior/work/incentive/etc.
  • for birthday treats or students displaying good character 
  • for getting through a particularly challenging lesson
  • as a surprise 'cheer me up' after vacations or breaks, when it's difficult to return to school

I would keep the box on my desk and there were strict rules that no one could touch the box unless it was given to them by the teacher (that's important because kids are drawn to it and love to peek inside constantly). Scroll for some more suggestions to maintain smooth use of your Magic Sticker Box!


Magic Sticker Box Suggestions:

I would sometimes pass the box around the class if it was given as a whole-class reward, but kids need a five second time limit when they stick their hands in there, otherwise they'll be fishing around in there all day! Sometimes I would even hold the box while they chose and count until they picked. Reduce it to 3 seconds if need be. 

Tape on the top of the box (using clear packing tape) because kids will lift it off and peek or try to pick stickers out that way. The element of surprise is the whole point! I also put packing tape around the slot where you put your hand, because it can be scratchy and it also gets ripped up from use after a while.

Fill the box! It has to have a lot of stickers in there, otherwise the thrill is gone. Trust me on this one. If you stick your hand into the box and it's kind of empty, then it loses its purpose. I know that means you'll have to buy a lot of stickers, but so be it. I've listed some good sources for stickers below.

One Hand at a Time. Students get excited about this box, so be sure that only one hand goes into the slot and only one person should be using the box at a time. 

Have a Throw Back Rule.  Someone inevitably learns to stick their hand in there and pull out a pile of stickers instead of one, or they try to fish out the one they want. So be sure to have a PICK ONE rule, and then, if desired, allow a 'throwback.' I used to let my students throw a sticker back in and choose another only three times. By the third time they had to keep what they got. If you're passing the box around the class and you want to do it quickly, then tell them, no throwbacks! You get what you get. Sometimes I would allow them to trade with each other, to settle any disappointment.

The top of this box is actually sealed with clear packing tape!

Where Can I Buy Cool Stickers?

You might grumble about this, but the stickers you put in the box have to be cool. You know what I mean, right? No free stickers from Highlights (no offense Highlights), none of those ones you get from the fire department to teach you about safety. Nope, these have to be cool  stickers- sparkly, scratch and sniff, shiny, funny characters, whatever. They have to want to stick their hands in there! Here are some of my favorite sticker sources, and you can buy in bulk. You can also use some of my Amazon affiliate links below.

  • Pipsticks: this is a sticker subscription service as well as a one-time purchase site. It can be a bit pricey for classroom use, but the stickers are awesome and unique. You can read about my experience with them here.
  • Smilemakers: they have an amazing collection of stickers at good prices. These were classroom favorites for sure.
  • Trend Enterprises: Trend was the original scratch and sniff sticker maker from the 1980's. They sell a variety of awesome stickers and can also be found in teaching supply stores around the country.
  • Really Good Stuff: Really Good Stuff sells so many cute things for teachers, and they have some unusual stickers that kids always love. 
  • Mrs. Grossman's: I like Mrs. Grossman's because they are another original company from the 1980's, and kids love their little squares of sticker scenes. So do I, frankly.

So Why Does Your Classroom Need a Magic Sticker Box?

I call it a Magic Sticker Box because smiles magically appear as soon as little hands go in the box. I never thought I'd be writing a post about my Magic Sticker Box, but of all the classrooms I've visited, I have never seen one other than my own. In a country where school is slowly becoming...NOT FUN...a Magic Sticker Box helps bring a little joy and inspiration back to the classroom. It's also...

-inexpensive
-durable
-transferable and portable
-allergy-free
-rewarding
-promoting self-confidence and pride while learning and achieving
-promoting equal opportunities for all students
-encouraging independent choices
-including all levels of learners

I could go on and on but I think you get the idea!  What have you got to lose, right? Please go ahead and make one. You'll be happy you did, and so will your little learners.










6 comments:

  1. I love stickers, what a great idea!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Getting stickers is always fun! What a great idea. My son's teacher used animal stickers as an incentive for him to focus in first grade and it worked like a charm. He would have flipped getting to pick his own mystery stickers out of a box!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ya can't go wrong with stickers! Thanks, Meech!

      Delete
  3. This is a really cute idea! I like how much time you spent working on yours. Stickers also are magical because they help boo boo's feel better. 😁

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, yes!! Boo boos! I forgot about them! Might be fun for the school nurse to make a magic sticker box, too!

      Delete