Printed from

Mystery Motivator Reward

This compelling behavioral reward system delivers a special mystery reward for desired behaviors. In
the reward, students
in or refrain 
predetermined academic
behaviors. On days when the class meets its behavior goal, one student gets to color in that day on the Mystery Motivator calendar to see if the invisible X appears. If it appears, the reward is earned.

How to use

1. Seal the reward

Choose one reward from a list generated by the class. Write it on a piece of paper and place it in a sealed envelope. Do not tell the students what the reward is. Draw a large question mark on the envelope and place it in a prominent position in the room.

2. Define the behavior

Write a specific, measurable behavior on the Mystery Motivator calendar. For example, the teacher might want to see an increase in group participation, independent reading, or homework completion. Conversely, teachers might want to see other behaviors decrease, such as calling out, put downs, or non-compliance.

3. Create the calendar

Purchase an invisible-ink pen, available in novelty and school supply stores. On a monthly calendar, use the invisible-ink pen to draw an X on approximately 10 school days. Once the ink dries, students will not be able to tell which squares have been marked with an X. On the selected days, students have the opportunity to earn the Mystery Motivator reward. Days for no rewards are left blank.

4. Color the square

If the students meet the pre-specified criteria, they get to color in the square for that day with the developer pen. If an X appears after the coloring, the envelope is opened and the specified reward is given immediately. If no X appears, congratulate the students on their behavior, describe how well they have performed, and tell the students that tomorrow could be a reward day. On days when the class does not meet the goal, students do not get to check to see whether there is an X. Hold a discussion to see improvement for the next day. Once the Mystery Motivator is revealed, replace it with another reward from the student-generated list.

When to use

Use the Mystery Motivator to deliver random rewards for appropriate behavior. Use depends on behaviors that need to increase (e.g., school work completed, good lunchroom behavior, few classroom rules broken, etc.) or decrease (e.g., non-compliance, talking back, disturbing others, etc.). Once the system becomes effective, begin fading it out little by little, placing fewer Xs on the calendar.


Mystery Motivator Bonus Square

At the beginning of the week, a number between one to five is written with the invisible-ink pen in the bonus square.  At the end of the week, the students get to color in the bonus square with the developer pen to reveal the invisible number. If the students meet the criteria for the target behavior the number of days specified in the bonus square, a bonus reward is given.

Team Mystery Motivator

Assign each student to a team of three to four students. Give each team their own calendar with Xs marked in invisible ink. If all students in the team accomplish the specified behavior, the team colors in a square on a team form to see if an X appears, indicating that all of them get a reward. If some of the students do not meet the goal, then their team does not get to color in a square.

Minimum Number of Xs

Once the system becomes effective, assign a minimum number of Xs needed within the month in order to open the Mystery Motivator envelope. This could be used if the teacher would like to give a larger-scale reward to students. In this case, each day would have an X on it to be revealed if the class meets the academic or social behavior for that month. However, in order to earn the reward, the class must meet the predetermined number of Xs throughout that month. The Minimum Number of Xs can be known by the students, or could also be a mystery, revealed at the end of the month. At first, the minimum number of Xs can be lower, but then should be increased.

Mystery Motivator Chart

Instead of using a calendar and invisible ink, a simple chart with 5, 10, or 20 squares can be used. As students exhibit the desired behavior during class, a square is marked off. Once all the squares are marked off, students earn the mystery reward.

Mystery Reward

Use a reward placed in a Mystery Motivator envelope with any class-wide motivation system to increase students’ interest in earning a reward.

Printed from