I am doing everything I can to get my budding reader excited about books and motivated to practice! She is obsessed with gum balls right now, so we made a giant gum ball machine to post in her room and fill with gum balls as she earns them through reading! Because she is learning, I made this a 2 part program to incentivize her to sit through being read to, and also to practice reading on her own. Here is how it works:
How It Works!
Chloe can earn a colored gum ball for every 20 minutes she reads with a parent or her sister. These are intended to be a daily prize she can earn and visually see on her wall. Chloe can earn a GOLDEN gum ball for every book she reads and passes off to me from her new boxed book set. These golden gum balls each have a coupon taped to the back, rewarding her with prizes for her big accomplishments.
Prizes & Incentives
The prizes can be whatever you want them to be, for us they are things like 5 chocolate chips, a spoon of ice cream, 1 show of your choice etc. Not huge or hard for me to prepare, but exciting for her! When she gets 60 gum balls in her machine, she has chosen to earn a gymnastics bar! We learned from a behavioral therapist that when training a new behavior it is important to give rewards immediately and simultaneously work toward a grand prize, which is why we are doing special coupons along the way!
How to Make Your Own Gum ball Machine
To make the gum ball machine, I bought white and red poster board at the dollar store, traced a large salad bowl and glued everything together. I printed off her reading goal for the front and used a 2″ circle punch to easily make 60 gum balls in various colors. I used a staple gun to attach it to her wall, but you could use a 3M strip or a nail as well!
You could use this same method with any theme that your child is into. For example, fish in an ocean scene, dinosaurs in a forest, golf balls on a course etc. For me, the goal was to make it large and colorful, and I liked that circles for gum balls were easy to punch out!
Ideas for Older Children
My older daughter is determined to read 100 chapter books over the summer. I feel this is a very high goal, but who am I to squash her dreams?! She lives and breathes Harry Potter right now, but also reads many shorter chapter books that she can finish in a day.
For her reward chart, we bought and decorated a poster board with Harry Potter font and magical gold glitter as a border. We bought a pack of Harry Potter stickers on Amazon and she gets to choose a sticker for her poster when she completes a chapter book. It is not lost on me that I’m lucky my 9 year old still goes for sticker charts. But these are large, watercolor stickers themed to her favorite book and they are more of a wall decoration than a sticker chart- whatever it is about it, she is into it! I am also having her keep a log tracking how many pages each book is and rating it with a 1-5 star review. Tatum is thrilled with her poster and cannot possibly wait until summer to get started using it.
She has a reading coupon on the back of every sticker, since I think every completed chapter book is worthy of celebration like a spoon of ice cream! I was sure to keep the prizes simple enough that I can maintain it over time, financially and time wise. I asked a few friends who would be willing to have an egg cracked on their head as a really fun prize, and got some volunteers for that! Think about your family and friends and how you can include them in your reading prizes! This is the goal for Tatum’s poster- for it to be covered in fun stickers she can see and feel proud of!
Ask your child what they are into, and use this poster idea with themed stickers to create your own child-led motivating summer reading program. Let me know in the comments if you try this or something similar!