Why I Dumped The Treasure Box

Why I Dumped The Treasure Box

When my students showed up to speech for the first time this year, the first question out of their mouths was "Where is the treasure box?"

I took a deep breath and prepared myself for the backlash.

"Well, guys. There is no more treasure box. This year we are doing something different that you will like even more."

The next thing that happened was the little scavengers found last year's treasure box and with excitement in their eyes said, "There it is! Are there toys in it?"

To which I had to reply, truthfully, "Nope. It's full of beans". 

(It really is. The treasure chest is now a sensory box! Also, the look on their faces is kind of priceless when you tell them the treasure box contains beans.)

Last year was my first year as an SLP. I decided to stick with the treasure box idea that the SLP before me had used. It was 1/3 of the way full of trinkets. Mostly frogs... she must have really liked frogs. I'm assuming the kids didn't since they were tons still left.

I excitedly went to the Dollar Tree, scouring the aisles for things students might like. Pencils, big erasers, small play dough containers, bouncy balls, Chinese finger traps, scented pens, creepy crawlies, bracelets, sticky notes, etc. The works. I was so proud of myself!

When the students filled up 5 punches on their punch card (this equates to 5 weeks for most of my students, but some filled it up sooner), they were allowed to pick from the treasure box. 1 punch=1 session of hard work and good behavior. I thought the goodies would last forever. I was wrong.

In no time flat, the treasure box was depleted. The things that were left in the box were things that warranted remarks such as, "There's nothing good in here", "I don't want any of that stuff", "I already have this", "There's only boy/girl stuff left", etc. I was half bummed and half irritated. I was bummed because I really didn't want to let the kids down and I was irritated because they were being the slightest bit ungrateful in regard to their rewards.

When I explained to them that I would get more items soon, I would hear "You should buy food" (You're not a puppy, you do not need a treat.), "You should get Minecraft stuff" (NO! EXPENSIVE!), "You should put like, an iPad in there" (Uhh...Yeah... No.). My teacher funds were already dwindling and I would rather purchase useful therapy materials with my money, as opposed to toys that would break almost immediately upon use or stickers that would get lost while walking back to class.

That's when I decided to dump the treasure chest.

At the end of the year, I let the students pick 2-3 things from the chest to empty it before this school year. I went ahead and broke the news that next year, there would be no treasure box. The kids seemed okay with it. I wasn't exactly sure what I was going to do, but I knew it wouldn't involve the money it took to keep refilling prizes.

Fast forward to this year and the beginning of the post. No more treasure in the box, only beans.

Here's what I am doing instead.

These cards are fantastic because once purchased, these rewards will cost you NOTHING in classroom funds throughout the year. I rewarded my students with free activities instead of stickers or trinkets. And guess what?


When my students get 5 punches on their punch cards, I let them choose a card from this packet. They can then redeem the card whenever they please! Most students would rather sit in the teacher's chair, have iPad time, or not have to wear shoes anyways. Will I ever get to eat alone again? Maybe not. It seems that eating lunch with the teacher is a highly preferred reward. (Not going to lie though, it's awesome that they want to spend that time with me!)

If you do not like what I have down as rewards, guess what...

Yes, these are editable! This product is also friendly for non-readers, as I have included pictures on one version of the cards.

This packet includes:

  • 14 different prefilled text-only cards (10-minute increments and 5-minute increments are included)
  • 14 different prefilled text + photo cards (10-minute increments and 5-minute increments are included)
  • 14 different blank cards with fillable fields where you can put your own text.
  • Punch cards

All you have to do is cut out the cards, laminate them, and let the child pick a card when they've earned their reward. Once they redeem the card, it goes back into the stack for students to choose from.

I put my cards in a 4x6 photo album. The child can flip through the pages and see the card they'd like to choose. They really, really like it.

I would like to add that I only use this for my 1st graders and up. For preschool and KG, I give them "Smellies". What is a smelly, you ask? Find out here, where I talk about it in depth!

You can find all of my favorite rewards here, on my Amazon pageAs an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases, but it doesn't cost you anything. 

Do any of you have treasure box alternatives? Feel free to share!

Post a Comment


  1. Kayla, it's a dump the treasure box revolution! I love your post, especially the idea of speech students having lunch with me as a way to reward them for specific positive behaviors. Thanks for sponsoring this linky!!

  2. What great ideas! I'll definitely be using some of these this year. Thanks for sharing, Kayla.

  3. Great post! I love the idea of "smellies"!