Play & Learn: Picture Rewards

As parents, we may fall into the trap of rewarding our kids with toys or food. But there are so many other ways to offer rewards for good behavior or new accomplishments. Since Nathan is just beginning to learn the alphabet, I started a thing I call "picture rewards."

The concept is simple. I start with a letter on a piece of poster board. Any time he does something deserving of a reward, he earns a new picture for his board. Now granted, he's 2.5 so this is still exciting to him. I'm sure an older child wouldn't be so eager to earn such a simple reward. :) But I'm sure you might be able to think of other equally fun rewarding things.

This is a fairly frugal project. You'll need:

~A sheet of posterboard
~Glue or Gluestick
~Pictures from magazines or clip art from online
~A marker or pen

You just start off with the letter in the middle of the sheet:

Give them a picture or two to start:

I use a gluestick for the pictures since it's easier and less messy for his age. Watch for sales to get these for next to free. Let them select the picture they want. Not only is it more exciting for them, but they'll also get to see the other pictures they can "earn."

After they put on the glue and put the picture on the posterboard, tell them what the word is and then write it under/over the picture. As you are writing it, spell it out for them.

Each day or throughout the day as they earn a new picture, review the previous words with them, either before you add a new one or after.

Nathan loves this so much and I love that he's not only learning the alphabet and new words, but he's also learning how rewards do not have to be tied to food or material things. The first day, he helped me with some household task and then he clapped his hands together and said, "Glue!" and pointed to the board. I had to laugh! Eventually, he started calling it "Pictures." :) This became such a big part of our day that I ended up nailing this to the wall in our playroom. I can now switch out new posterboards fairly easily, while keeping the older ones for future references.

I hope that you and your children have fun with your projects this week, too!


  1. That's cute. We actually laminated that baby laying on a pink blanket. My daughter loves it. :)

  2. I LOVE your creativity! I just wish that my little guy would be a little older so I could implement these ideas now. I'm afraid I'll forget them in another 1.5 years. You should have been a teacher. :) Wait...being a mom is even a better thing!

  3. I LOVE this idea!!! My little guy is about to turn 2 - we currently have a countdown calendar for vacation where he places a sticker on the calendar each day - he looks forward to this every single day - so this "Pictures" would be something he would love too! THANK YOU! And I love that it's not food or toys - it's creative and educational!

  4. What an awesome idea. I really apreciate the idea, b/c dd/2 yr old loves everything ABC's. DD love this active learning. We also love Barney Mother Goose Rhymes (books and DVD) and Leap Frog Letter Factory DVD. ABC mats that go on the floor are really fun to, you can make up a lot of learning games with them.


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