Token Economies: Examples of Class-Wide and Individual Token Economies for Inclusive Settings

Token economies can be effective strategies to use when modifying the behavior of an individual or group of students. There are countless forms that a token economy can take. In a class-wide system, a token economy might look like a weekly reward system. Individually, a token economy may address one specific block of time or activity. Token economies may be charts, tally marks, stickers, or smiley faces. They can use everything from edibles to activities to homework passes as backup reinforcers. Regardless of what your token economy looks like, it should be designed to meet the individual needs of your students, have clearly defined expectations and consequences, and have the potential to be faded out over time. Below are several examples of token economies that I have used or seen in a variety of situations. 

1. Class-Wide Color Chart - Sports Themed

Description: The class-wide color chart consists of five levels. The first level is green, for “Ready to Learn.” The class begins every Monday on green. The second level is teal (“Up to Bat”). If the students as a class meet a set of behavioral expectations on Monday, they can move up to “Up to Bat” for Tuesday. The third level is pink, for “Team Player.” The fourth level, “Team Captain,” is purple. Finally, the fifth level, “Champion,” is blue. The students continue to move up the ladder throughout the week when behavioral expectations are met on a daily basis. The students get to choose from the treasure box on Friday if the class is on “Champion.” If the class earns three out of four champion weeks, then the students are rewarded with a popsicle party. If the students do not meet the behavior expectations, then the class does not move up on the ladder. If the students do not move up, the teacher has a class meeting and the students give examples explaining why the class is not able to move up on the ladder. A magnet or clothes pin can be used to give the students a visual of where the class stands.

What it looks like: 

  Ready to Learn
Up to Bat   Team Player   Team Captain

The class can move up if:

1. All students walk quietly in the hallway

2. All students bring textbooks to class

3. All students bring in completed homework

Champion Weeks: _______ out of 4


2. Individual Daily Behavior Chart

Description: A student who has a difficult time meeting behavioral expectations during certain times of the day may benefit from this token economy. The student is given a schedule of activities that he/she will be engaged in throughout the day. For every activity, the student can earn a smiley face. During the last 10 minutes of the day, if the student earns a specified amount of smiley faces he/she can have a desired activity, such as playing on the iPad. 

What it looks like: 

Activity  🙂 = I was quiet. I completed my assignment. I remained    seated. 
Morning Group  
Reading Group  
Math Group  
Science Class  
Social Studies Class  
Special Area   

6 out of 7 smiley faces = ____iPad_____


3. Individual Token Economy - Breaking Down the Activity

Description: Some students, especially those who are younger or require more intensive supports, may benefit from a token economy that breaks activities or lessons down into smaller tasks. For example, in an ABA program, a student might receive a token for every initiated greeting. A student that has a strong dislike for math may earn a token for every math problem that he/she completes. There are numerous ways to set up these systems, but it will essentially work the same in every scenario. An activity is broken down into smaller tasks. The student earns a token for one task. The tokens are then exchanged once the activity is completed and the student receives a backup reinforcer. These can also be useful strategies when modifying off-task behaviors. 

What it looks like: 

Earn one check mark for every math problem. Complete 10 math problems and exchange your check marks for 5 minutes of free time. 

       ✔               ✔              ✔                                                                                                  


4. Self-Monitoring Materials

Description: Many students have difficulty bringing materials to class. Some students benefit from having a materials checklist on the desk or in the front pocket of his/her notebook. Students can use the materials checklist to monitor his/her own behavior. The student places a check mark in the appropriate box indicating that the materials were brought to class. If the students bring all materials to class, the teacher initials in the appropriate column. If the students do not bring specified materials to class, then the teacher does not initial the chart. The student must earn four out of five teacher initials in order to receive a backup reinforcer. 

What it looks like: 

For math class I will need:

Materials    Monday        Tuesday     Wednesday     Thursday     Friday  
Pencil with eraser           
Math Book          
Math Workbook          
Teacher Initials          

I need 4 out of 5 teacher initials to receive ____a homework pass____

These are just a few examples of how token economies can be implemented to modify student behaviors in inclusive settings. These strategies can be used with all students, not just those with ASD. By giving students behavior management tools such as these, teachers can help promote student independence and intrinsic motivation. For more information on token economies, click here

Written by Jennifer Rodecki, M.Ed.

Posted in Behavior Tagged with: , , , ,

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