50 Positive Reinforcements for the Art Room

Positive reinforcement is a game changer in the art room. It’s amazing how a positive reinforcement, no matter how small, can make a difference in a child’s motivation and work habits. I’ve put together 50 ideas that could not be simpler to implement. These ideas are free and don’t take much time. None of them involve candy, art parties, or taking time away from instruction. Choose the ones that resonate with you to add to your arsenal of classroom management tricks!

50 Positive Reinforcements for the Art Room for Students

  1. Let a student assist the custodian in the art room.
  2. Have a student read art announcements to the class or over the PA system.
  3. Ask a student to be a helper in another art class with a different grade level.
  4. Recognize a student during school-announcements.
  5. Allow a student to be the first one in line.
  6. Let a student be a line monitor to ensure everyone is ready to leave the art room at the end of class.
  7. Have a student lead a class game.
  8. Let a student be your helper for the day.
  9. Let a student borrow and use the Principal’s chair for the entire art class.
  10. Allow a student to choose a book for you to read aloud to the class.
  11. Allow a student to choose music for the class to listen to while they work.
  12. Ask a student to help you design the bulletin board.
  13. Ask a student to help you choose artwork to display.
  14. Allow a group of students to draw on the whiteboard.
  15. Send a positive note home with a student.
  16. Allow a student some computer time.
  17. Have a student email their parent to share a success.
  18. Let a student work outdoors on a drawing or art project.
  19. Plan a lunch for you and a student or a student and your principal.
  20. Send a student to the office to talk about something that went well.
  21. Invite the principal in for an art game at the end of class.
  22. Let a student have 5 minutes of free choice art time at the end of class.
  23. Allow a student to visit the teacher’s lounge with you.
  24. Let a student take a break and go for a short walk in the hallway.
  25. Send a student to the library to select an art book to read.
  26. Lend an art supply to a student for a night or two.
  27. Let a student keep a favorite stuffed animal at the table with them.
  28. Make a positive phone call home.
  29. Allow a student to keep the school mascot at the table with them.
  30. Send a student to the office with a delivery.
  31. Allow a student to listen to music with headphones during class.
  32. Let a student control your slide presentation with a remote.
  33. Let a student start and stop a video the class is watching.
  34. Have a student demonstrate an art skill using a document camera.
  35. Let a student stay 5 extra minutes to help you clean up.
  36. Allow students a short chat break at the end of class.
  37. Display student work on an easel in the art room.
  38. Let a student sit at your desk for one class period.
  39. Let a student sit at a different table for one class period.
  40. Designate a special art tool of the day and let a student use it.
  41. Have a student share a piece of art they made at home.
  42. Teach the class your favorite art game.
  43. Let the students take off their shoes to work for a day.
  44. Allow a student to use a box of brand new crayons.
  45. Give out a fun sticker or pencil.
  46. Allow a student to come in during recess or lunch.
  47. Let a student use modeling clay for the last 5 minutes of class.
  48. Have a student share the progress they made on their artwork at the end of class.
  49. Designate a student as the sink manager and let them assist with clean up.
  50. Let a student use a pointer or laser pointer while you are analyzing art with the group.

What else would you add to the list to reinforce positive behavior in the art room?

Jessica Balsley

Jessica Balsley is the Founder and President at AOE. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.


  • Ktemple

    Great ideas here!

  • Anon

    Great ideas to share with!  I liked how you provided other wonderful incentives other than the old treasure box!  What do you mean by “chat break” #36?  I’m working on the voice level in my art class but students tend to think that they could chat outloud just because art is a fairly unstructured class time!

    • Chat break, meaning, clean up early, and for the last 5 minutes students can just chat as a reward. Perhaps this could come after 5 minutes of “silent art”? 

  • Elisabeth

    Great Suggestions!  I love to encourage my students to be the Best they can Be…and listen to hear and follow Art directions.  I am not a Fan of the clapping and repeat attention getter Teachers like to use.  Like you…I like to use the Fun interactive rewards…and the students Love them too.  Thank you for a few more for my classroom management. 

  • Paddylarsen

    Some very good ideas.  I like allowing the student to change seats for an art class.  I always give an “art star” certificate to one student who gets to line up 1st with their table.

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  • Vickie

    If there are windows in the classroom, crayola has window crayon/marker sticks for glass and a fun and ever changing reward would be to let the students recognized for the week to create a piece of art on the windows that change through-out the year. Gets your students art work viewed and allows them to see art that ever changes. Easy clean up and a great self esteem booster.

    • Great idea, thanks for sharing! I need to get a set of those.

  • What about whole class rewards?

  • hhhart

    I give a “smartest artist” award at the end of each class to one student.  (I choose this person when we line up, it always makes for very quiet clean up and dismissal from the art room.)  I used to have a self-inking stamp made by the office supply store, but then the school started buying me real ribbons, with gold embossed letters to hand out!  The kids love them!  The music teacher joined in, giving a “music maestro” award, and the dance teacher awards kids with “fancy feet!”  (I put a star next to the students’ names on my rosters so I can try to choose everyone once by the end of the year)

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  • Alyssa Mattheis

    These are great ideas, however I would like to see another list geared towards high school motivation. I am a K-12 art teacher and would really like some pointers on rewards/motivaters for some of these students.

  • Deborah

    Get some smelly fruity clear chap stick and for kinder or 1st grade they get some rubbed on the back of their hand. They LOVE the smell and it stays with them unlike stickers. :)

    • Ms. B

      I do that and call them my smellies! Even my older elem love them!

  • Christi

    Thank you so much for these ideas! Perfect time for fresh positive motivators! :)

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