Implementing a Token Economy in the Classroom

Categories: Interventions | Resources

First of all, what is a token economy? A token economy is a point system that involves tokens being rewarded for positive, desirable behaviors that can be exchanged for other items (free time, candy, iPad time, gift cards, etc). Check out our Token Economy Setup Kit!

A token economy system in the classroom is very easy to implement, and is a great way to reinforce our students’ good behavior and consequently decrease their undesirable behaviors.  In this post, I will give you steps needed to create the token economy system as well as some pointers for designing an effective token economy!

  1.     Select the tokens.  Some examples of tokens include star stickers, colored paper strips (pictured below), and poker chips.

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  1.     Identify the rules with your students
    •     What can the students do to earn tokens? How can tokens be revoked?
  2.     Establish exchange criteria
    •     i.e. 25 tokens = 5 minutes of free iPad time or candy bar; 50 tokens = no homework pass
  3.     Specify when and how tokens will be and exchanged
    •     i.e. every Friday, students have the option to trade in their tokens for their reward or continue accumulating.

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It is important that the students do not control the token delivery and only the teacher does! When delivering the token, make sure to give praise regarding the specific behavior.  For example, “Thank you for pushing everyone’s chairs in, Timmy! You get 4 points!”

More tips:

  • Keep the exchange criteria low initially
  • Make sure the rewards are items that the student wants to work for!
  • Modify the ratios as needed
  • Consider where the tokens/points will be stored
  • At the time of the exchange, present a menu for students to select rewards from
  • Students cannot go into negative points

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Hope these pointers help! 🙂



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