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If you are looking for a simple reading incentive to motivate your students this fall, think about rewarding your students for “Falling for Books”.   You can pull off this incentive with just a couple of easy steps:

  1. Using bulletin board paper, cut out a large brown tree with lots of branches for each grade level (you can choose to do this incentive with the whole school, or just with upper or lower grades).  Hang the trees next to each other on a spare expanse of wall.  Make sure to post signs identifying the grade level on each tree trunk.
  2. Cut out LOTS of fall-colored leaves.  Use red, yellow, and orange construction paper and a die cut machine (if you are lucky enough to have one, if not a pair of scissors will do!) to make your leaves.  This would be a great project for a parent volunteer!
  3. Pass out a stack of leaves to each teacher.  Ask the teachers to provide a box or basket in which students can place their leaves, or give each teacher a box yourself.
  4. Introduce the incentive to students during class time by explaining that each time they finish reading a book, they can write their name and the title and author of that book on a leaf that will then be added to their class’ “tree”.  Encourage students to help fill the library with beautiful fall colors by reading as much as possible.  Make sure to talk to the kindergarten and first grade teachers separately and explain that their students can record (with the help of teachers, if necessary) titles of books that have been read to them at home.  This is an important statement to make so that your youngest students don’t feel left out of the excitement.
  5. Run the incentive for about a month (November is a great time for this!), with students turning in their leaves to the receptacles in their classrooms.  You can ask your classes to bring their leaf boxes with them to their library lessons so that you can add the leaves to the trees, or you or a volunteer can go from room to room collecting leaves each morning.  Attach the leaves to the trees as soon as possible, so that students can see their progress.  If you run out of room on the branches, start piling leaves under the trees–it is FALL, after all!  You might want to keep a tally on a sheet of paper of the number of leaves you receive from each classroom, as they will be difficult to count once they are on the tree.
  6. On the last day of the event, calculate the final totals and announce the winners.  In the interest of fairness, you should consider having one winner for the lower grades (K-2) and one for the upper grades (3-5), as the older students won’t be able to read as many books because their books are longer.  You’ll have to decide if “bragging rights” are enough of a prize or if you want the students to receive something tangible.  Festive fall bookmarks are a great prize for all age groups.

Once the incentive is over, you can leave the trees up as a beautiful fall decoration for your library!

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