Over the years, I’ve tried to come up with a system for keeping track of allowances and chores but nothing has ever stuck. I saw this Marble Jar Reward System in the June/July 2010 issue of Family Fun and, ever hopeful, decided to give it a try. I purchased four glass jars, puffy paints, and stickers at JoAnn Fabrics. Marbles were surprisingly hard to find, but I finally tracked some down at Walmart. I decorated the jars and made a chart that listed jobs in one column and the number of marbles earned in the other.
What works: This system definitely inspires a sense of ownership and initiative. I like the tangible connection between “I want X” and “Here’s how I can earn it.” I also like how the kids can see their jars filling up. As the marbles creep closer to the top, their motivation increases.
What doesn’t work: Using the jars as a reward for positive/negative behavior. It felt too arbitrary to take away a marble that was fairly earned because of a moment of weakness. I’d be in big trouble if that rule applied to me. The other issue is that the reward system as laid out (fill up the marble jar, then have a friend sleep over, get a new toy, etc.) was too “out there.” Andrew wanted a $60 video game, while Lily had her sights on a $10 Barbie. We’d quickly go broke if we kept that up, plus it didn’t really feel fair.
Our tweaks: Each marble is now worth 25 cents. The jars each hold about $40 worth of marbles, so if Lexie wants to buy something big from American Girl, she has to fill up her jar a couple of times. On the other hand, if she wants to buy something for $10, she doesn’t have to wait until her jar is full; she can cash in her marbles at any time. Marbles are rewarded strictly for a job well done and cannot be added or removed for good or bad behavior.
I’ll let you know how this works. And please share your ideas, too.
- Check out this New Year’s Time Capsule. If you started this, would you keep it up every year?
- The Purl Bee’s Best of 2010. Baby leg warmers!
- Wouldn’t a poster of Gandhi’s Top 10 Fundamentals help you get off to a good start this year? You can download it for free here. The file is big and took a while to download, but the finished product will look good on my revamped inspiration board.
- Day 6 of the Push-Up Challenge. So far, so good.