Summer Prize Bucket + Tickets


June 23, 2020

The Prize Bucket + Tickets Explained

The idea behind this—each week my kids earn tickets for doing their Summer Responsibilities and then one time (each week) I open the prize bucket and they can “buy” things from me based on how many tickets they have earned. It’s a fun way we get our kids motivated during the Summer to get things done.

How Do We Introduce The Prize Bucket Each Year:

By now the kids (mostly) know how it works, but the number of tickets per item or the jobs/tasks required of them each year will change. So, we have a sit down Family Council to hand out Summer Responsibilities (chore/task) charts and get all of the questions out of the way. We also decide if we will be opening the Prize Bucket on Friday or Saturday. It changes based on our schedule and when we want to do it. If this is your first year doing it, be sure to explain your “rules.” For me, my kids can’t lose tickets, but I know many of you asked and said you would like to do it that way. I really prefer to keep this whole system positive, so instead of taking away tickets I will offer extra tickets for SUPER behavior here and there. Not every time and they know not to expect it. I have told them that I will keep three tickets in my pocket each day and if I see a SUPER SIBLING, I will hand it out to that child. Or if I know a child is struggling with some behavior and I see them act opposite of that, I will hand it out. And it is three tickets each day, so I don’t go wild asking for more and they know when they are gone they are gone.

Tasks They Earn Tickets For:

My kids have a list of Summer Responsibilities. It’s changes from year to year and age to age, but for each responsibility there is a ticket number attached to it. So, summer school worksheets or piano practicing, scripture study or a specific chore around the house all get them a ticket.

-Chores (Chore Chart)
-Music Practice (Piano, Violin, Ukulele etc)
-Summer School Work (I choose for them. I buy workbooks or online programs or topics for them to work on or research)
-Behavior (If we are working on a particular behavior or if I am trying to encourage something I give a ticket for it)

How I Hand Out Tickets:

Everyone starts with ZERO tickets. It is up to them to earn tickets to spend at the Prize Bucket

When a child is done with their list of morning chores they come to me and we go together to “inspect” their work. If we determine everything has been done I give them their tickets. If they need to correct something, they do so, and then I come back and inspect again. Once the jobs are done to the age appropriate standard (that you determine) I give them their tickets.

Most of their jobs are done before lunch so I don’t feel like I am passing out tickets all day. Some things they have to do at dinner time or bedtime, so they will get those tickets right before bed.

The kids can do some of their jobs and not all of them and still earn tickets for the morning. For example, if a child refused to practice the piano, than they would miss out of those two tickets that day, but they would have still earned the rest of their tickets (if they did the rest of their chore list)…making their bed, emptying the dishwasher etc. So they would earn 8 of their 10 tickets that day. Or 3 of their 10 tickets of whatever the mix of jobs they get done. However, they would NOT be eligible to do any EXTRA jobs for extra tickets that day.

If they opt to do extra jobs, than they can do those any time during the day to earn extra tickets for Friday Prize Bucket Day. I usually keep a few tickets in my pocket for this purpose.

They are in charge of their tickets!

I do not monitor tickets making it to their drawers or baggies. I do help a 2 or 3 year old a little more, but they really catch on fast. And I think it is good for them to learn to have responsibility of keeping track of their tickets and not just losing them. Some years we have used ziplock bags to hold each child’s tickets and some years we have had a designated Tupperware drawer for them. I like the tupperware drawer set up best, so we have a station for them to keep their tickets in, but baggies have definitely worked. So, don’t feel like you have to go buy something to make this work.

How To Determine Ticket Value and Prize Value:

So, first decide about how many tickets you want your kids to earn each day. I want each of the kids tasks to allow them to earn 1-2 tickets per task (depending on how hard or long the job will take) and then I want them to earn a total of 10-12 tickets per day. Then look at your prizes and set the price of them based off of how quickly you want them to earn an item. For example, our largest items this year at $19. I know, it is quite pricey (we have never got that high before, but those items are highly motivating my older kids, so I think it will be worth it), but we also have $1 items. Those $19 items I do NOT want them to be able to earn in one week of saving. Those need to take at least two weeks to earn. So, since my kids can earn 10 tickets a day (without bonus tickets), they can earn 60 tickets a week (we don’t do tickets on Sunday). Those large prizes will be over 120 tickets and to make sure they would have to work a little harder to get them (ie do a few extra tasks to get them in two weeks) I placed those prizes at 125 tickets. That means they would either have to do five extra jobs over the two week time period or wait for the third week to get the large prizes and have a handful of extra tickets saved up for the next week or spend them on smaller items. So after I place a ticket value on my largest items I just look at each item after that a d determine a ticket value that seems fair. I ask myself, should they be able to earn this in one week? Do I want them to be able to get this item plus another one in one week? It helps me to look at the price and size of the items to determine a fair ticket price per item.

Another, idea that really helps to maintain prize bucket prices. I put use those bright circle yard sale stickers and put them on the prizes in the bucket. I make a chart that stays inside the lid of the bucket that has the sticker and the amount of tickets it takes to get the item. This way, the kids can easily see a yellow sticker and know it is worth 30 tickets or a pink sticker and know it is worth 100 tickets etc. Here is an example from a few years ago…

Where do I buy our prizes and how much do I spend on prizes:

First, this years Prize Bucket is SO much more expensive than it has ever been in the past, but that has to so with the ages of my older kids. Second, If you have kids that are younger and motivated by small items, keep it small. Do NOT feel pressure to over spend. Think about how excited kids get when they stand in front of a prize counter at a state fair or chucky cheese (or somewhere like that)! They see mini erasers, pencils, glow sticks, markers, ring pops, match box cars, suckers etc and they nearly lose their minds! So, I have shopped at the dollar store, the dollar spot at target, clearance sections at Walmart or Target etc. to stock up on these items. I will often find a floaty at the end of one Summer for $3 and stash it away for the following Summer Prize Bucket. So, check those cheap places through out the year for good deals. There have been years where I have spent less that $100 for the entire Summer on our Prize Bucket. This year I spent a bit more. However, remember I did buy some very large prizes and I have six kids I am trying to fill this bucket for. You can always spend less and replenish as the Summer goes on.

Job Ideas:

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but these are some ideas to get you started for chores by age range:

Jobs 2-3 year olds can do in our house:

-Help put away silverware/cups from dishwasher

-Sweep (I do NOT expect perfection on this task) But it is the practicing and the feeling empowered

-Moving Laundry from Washing Machine to Dryer, or loading the washing machine and I come by after and put soap in and start it.

-Help clean up family room: place pillows on couches, put blankets away, put toys back in playroom, and books back on shelves.

-Dusting (again, I don’t expect perfection, just the doing and pointing out a little but here and there to get them used to helping out). We just use a damp rag for this job.

-Putting shoes away in shoe buckets (We have a bucket/cubby for everyone’s shoes and all the kids can put away their own, but if shoes are left out this is a great job for younger kids)

-Help clean up the art table: throw garbage away, put crayons back, put scissors back, put glue back etc.

-Wiping down barstools or kitchen chairs (again, we aren’t going for perfection here. There will be missed spots…point them out or don’t they are practicing and learning).

-Put away Pajamas or Dirty Clothes where they belong

-Laying out clothes the night before and getting themselves dressed the next day

-Put trash can liners in garbages

-Wipe off doorknobs

-Let them help set the table for dinner, but pick the easiest jobs, like napkins or silverware at each plate at dinner (this might be a Buddy Job for a younger 2 year old. I will explain a buddy job later)

-Put away clean laundry in their drawers (another Buddy Job)

-Brush their teeth (Buddy Job)

-Help with cleaning out the car (Buddy Job) They can gather toys, shoes, or garbage in bag and then take it to the appropriate place to throw away or put away. This requires a buddy, because it makes me too nervous to have a young child out in the car alone and when they get back inside the house if they have a collection of items that need putting away it requires a little help.

Jobs 4-7 year olds can do in our house:

-All of the jobs above, only now they have been practicing for a few years, so I expect more perfection. Not totally drill-sergeant-get-upset-if-it-is-not-perfect attitude, but they should be able to do more and be better at doing it.

-Make their bed

-Take out the trash

-Wiping down kitchen cabinets that are floor level (not the upper cabinets)

-Washing dishes and loading the dishwasher (this is a Buddy Job and I will explain that in a little bit)

-Washing Clothes (another Buddy Job)

-Brush Teeth

-Wash mirrors/low windows

-Wipe down door knobs/doors

-Clean Baseboards


-Sweep patio/deck

-Pick up dog poop

-Read for 15 min (Buddy job if they can’t read yet have someone read to them. If they can read have them read aloud to practice reading)

Jobs that kids 8+ can do in our house:

-All of the above jobs and now I expect they can be done to a much higher level of perfection. For example, I should not have to come behind them to get crumbs left on the floor or find streaks of dust still left in places they have dusted. Not that I get mad if it isn’t done right the first time, but I will call them back to fix the job.


-Dust blinds and other surfaces

-Wipe down kitchen appliances

-Clean the inside of the microwave

-Organize toys

-Fold/Sort Clothes (this can be done by younger kids, but I tend to just have my older ones do it)

-Vacuum out the car and wash the car windows

-Sweep bathroom floors and mop them

-Wipe down Kitchen counters and bathroom counters (and sanitize them)

-Mow the lawn

-Sweep patio/deck, walkways and wash them down with a hose (As needed)

-Water the Garden

-Help cook. Let them make a side or dessert to go with dinner. Or just have them help with dinner prep: ie. chop carrots while you do another task for dinner prep. One Summer I let each child pick one night a week to be a dinner helper and they had to tell me what they wanted to make and then we made it together on their assigned night.

-Read a book to a younger sibling. You could let a child younger than 8 do this one…if they are a reader, let them read to another sibling older or younger).

-Read Scriptures

-Read for 20-30 minutes

Buddy Jobs:

Okay, Buddy Jobs are jobs that require an older child to help. There have been times where I actually assign an older child buddy to help with a job. Meaning it is actually typed up a put on the older and younger kids chore charts. And there are times where I just tell a younger child they need to find a Buddy to help them and the older kids know they will get a BONUS ticket for helping with the younger sibling with the job.

  1. rake says:

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  2. Hope says:

    I love this, Michelle. Do you do this during the school year as well, or do you have a different system?

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