The Marble Jar

by Amy on January 6, 2010

Post image for The Marble Jar

Did you make any family resolutions for 2010? The marble jar is a great way to visually track progress toward a family goal!

{Originally published May 2008}

marblejar

We are very lucky to have pretty easy-going, cooperative kids.  However, there are always little things we are working on, like potty training, sharing toys, cleaning up, or getting ready for bed.  We try very hard to emphasize the positive and be proactive, so the girls can have success with our expectations.

One of the ways we help the girls visualize those little (and big) successes is with our Marble Jar.  This is a trick I am borrowing from my teaching days.  We simply have a small jar and a basket of marbles.  Whenever my husband or I “catch” the girls being especially cooperative or generous or helpful, we tell them to put a marble in the jar, sometimes 2 or 3 marbles.

When the jar is full, we get to do a special family activity that the girls have requested. We just filled the jar a few days ago, and the girls had been working toward a trip to the Zoo and Fairytale Town.  They are so excited!

The other perk of this easy technique is that the girls are working together to achieve a common goal.  I love the teamwork aspect of it, and the way they encourage each other.

One more tip — don’t start this with a jar that’s too big.  The first couple times, you might want to use a jar that holds about 50 marbles.  Our current jar holds about 100 — with the 2 girls working together, it takes several weeks to fill it.

I would love to hear other ideas for building cooperation, teamwork and success in your homes!

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

amanda May 30, 2008 at 1:21 pm

We’ve used this too, sometimes with just 4-5 marbles or buttons (one per day) to learn a new skill. Most recently it was to help Josie get herself over the hurdle of speaking up in class. Each day she was able to say *something* she moved a button. after 5 days she was comfortable continuing to do it and received a small reward. I hadn’t thought of using it as a collective incentive, though, I think we’ll try that out! Thanks!
librarycollective.blogspot.com

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Tracy Moore May 30, 2008 at 2:03 pm

I did something very similar with my preschool class: the kindness chain. I used those colored plastic links they use as math manipulatives and had the children make a chain 100 links long. Of course we did 10 groups of 10 in different colors so you could easily see how many were on the chain.We milked a lot of covert math out of the whole 100 concept. We hung the chain in a prominent place with a bowl underneath.The twist was that each time someone did a kind thing the lucky recipient was to tell a teacher and we awarded a link to the kindness perp. Of course they were much quicker to tell about their own kind deeds but there are worse things than that.When all the links were in the bowl we had an ice cream party. They liked it so well we challenged them to 200 kind deeds. We just had our parties this week. The beautiful thing is even though the chain is gone now they are still quick to tell about kind deeds.

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Amy @ Let's Explore May 30, 2008 at 4:18 pm

Amanda – I love the idea of using just a few marbles or buttons to work on one specific skill. How old is Josie? My oldest is off to Kinder next year, and I sometimes wonder if she will be too reserved to talk in class.
Tracy – I never thought of using those plastic links — awesome idea! Plus, math skills as a bonus — love it! :)
Thanks for sharing you two! :) Amy

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Sarah May 30, 2008 at 9:21 pm

Hi! i’m not too sure how i came across your blog, but just thought i’d let you know i love reading about ur ideas and activities you do with ur girls! i’m studying towards an early childhood teaching degree and nanny part time. Sometimes i run out ideas to do with the children i nanny for- so its so good to get more ! thanks.x

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Sarah May 30, 2008 at 9:22 pm

Hi! i’m not too sure how i came across your blog, but just thought i’d let you know i love reading about ur ideas and activities you do with ur girls! i’m studying towards an early childhood teaching degree and nanny part time. Sometimes i run out ideas to do with the children i nanny for- so its so good to get more ! thanks.x

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OTJenH June 2, 2008 at 3:40 am

First of all, I just wanted to say I love your new banner. So seasonal and perfect!
Secondly, we are going to go out and buy some colorful marbles today! I LOVE to do the “catch him doing something right” thing with my son, and we have a system here with tickets and a ticket jar which has worked great. But it’s getting old and I really believe you have to change things like that up pretty often for it to stay fresh and motivating. So we’re going with colorful marbles and an ice cream treat around here, thanks to your suggestion. And my favorite part? They look so pretty in the jar!
Thanks-
Jen

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Shannon June 2, 2008 at 9:20 am

We use a similar system with Joshua. He earns marbles for many outstanding behaviors. When he gets 10 he can use them to buy an item or activity out of a bunch we have collected. Mostly items from the thrift store and most are books (his fave to buy!). He also may have some of his own toys that he can buy back that were removed for various reasons including not cleaning them up or not behaving with them. Works great and helps keep him working on remembering manners and following our house rules!

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Bonnie January 6, 2010 at 5:41 pm

this is a fantastic idea ! i may need to think about a similar (or exactly the same !!) approach with my two !

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branflakes January 7, 2010 at 11:32 am

My kids have been fighting alot so I am going to put this to use and call it the kindness jar. Thanks for the idea!

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Shawn January 13, 2010 at 3:35 am

Love, love, love this idea. Thank you so much. Perfect for my twin girls, now 4, who need that idea of full jar to understand patience. I also need it. :)

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boysnbiscuits January 28, 2010 at 11:50 am

Thanks for the great idea! We have a marble jar, too, but for a different reason. Our marble jar is full already, with each marble representing the Saturdays we have left until our oldest child goes to college. Each Saturday, one of our kids takes a marble out of the jar to add to his collection. Sounds depressing, I know, but it’s actually a great way to keep our priorities straight and realize we need to make the most of our time together. Here’s the story on my blog, if you’re interested: http://www.boysnbiscuits.com/www.boysnbiscuits.com/family/Entries/2009/8/1_use_your_marbles_wisely.html

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