Works for Me Wednesday: Treasure Chest

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I know not everyone is a big fan of extraneous rewards for kids, but, let’s face it, sometimes it’s fun to have something to work for. I’ve been known to offer my kids $2 each to clean the basement and they know, as well as I do, that they should take the offer because, if they wait, they’ll be doing it for free. I don’t mind rewarding them, occasionally, for a job well done and the promise of a reward makes an otherwise boring job a bit more palatable.

The same is true with schoolwork. Several years ago, my oldest was really struggling to stay on task for the things she didn’t like doing (okay, I’ll just say it: math). So, I started a treasure box. At the time, I couldn’t find a nifty treasure box for a reasonable price, so we just used a clear storage container. The treasure box included miniature candy bars, suckers, pencils, stickers and a few “big prizes” reserved for Fridays as a reward for staying on task the majority of the week. The big prizes were things I’d picked up on clearance at the craft store: paint-by-number pictures, design your own mug set, and small coloring books.

You’d be surprised at how well that treasure box worked. The kids loved being able to pick a piece of candy at the end of the school day. We haven’t used the treasure box in awhile because I keep forgetting to buy the stuff to refill it…but I’m going to soon because I recently found this adorable treasure box at The Dollar Tree:


I’m thinking I might even buy some “gold coins” and let those be for saving up for something bigger. Sometimes it’s the little things that just add a little fun to an ordinary job.

Visit Kristin at We Are THAT Family for more Works for Me Wednesday tips

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Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.

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  1. Excellent idea…..I am guilty of “dangling the carrot” to get our homeschooling done, lol.

  2. We are BIG fans of the treasure box idea. I actually made one by getting a plain one at Hobby Lobby and painted it black and gold and glued ‘gems’ onto it.

    We used ours for potty training. It worked great.

    I was going to say that for gold coins, they came out with gold dollar coins a few years ago, though they didn’t take off. But, I bet you could get some from the bank. They are pretty cool. And $2 bills. I love those.

  3. What a cute treasure box. We’ve used a similar tactic with a “privilege jar” where they can pull out a tab that has a privilege such as “choose a new bath product the next time we’re shopping” or “have a pillow fight with mom and dad”, etc. The kids respond well to this kind of incentive!

  4. I used something similar back when I taught elementary…it worked like a charm! They earned “bucks” for behavior that they traded for stuff from the treasure chest. I never thought about applying the concept to our homeschooling experience. Thanks for waking me up to the fact that some of my teaching tricks can be tweaked for homeschooling!

  5. I’ve used a treasure chest when I was teaching and I use one at home now for my kids due to discipline issues. Great tip!

  6. I am absolutely not above a bribe. Especially for homeschooled children–sometimes they need a little more reward than mommy saying, “Good Job.”

    I will warn you, as they get older, bribes become more sophisticated. They learn to barter–if they forgo today’s and tomorrow’s, can they have an extra special one on Friday?

    And my bribes for summer reading blew up in my face when my now 15yo suddenly started going through three books a day. I couldn’t afford to keep up.

    The best laid plans…

  7. Love the treasure chest! G actually earns her allowance by doing her schoolwork. She doesn’t usually mind helping me with chores. I may have to go get one of those.

  8. I bought one for this past year at michaels for 7 dollars it is real wood did much the same but only once a week could they pick something my kids are 6,5 and 3. They absolutely adored it and I occasionally let them pick things while we were shopping to add to the box. Other good ideas are accessories for little girls, coupons for fun activities, hot wheels cars for boys they love to collect them all!!! lol

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