The Marble Jar Allowance System: Behavior and Responsibility Reward Jar

Joshs marble jar

At our house we have to earn video game and TV time.  At our house we do chores.  And we work hard to use positive reinforcement to help teach good behavior.

I love our marble idea because it can be customized to fit any child, any family and any situation!  The concept is simple.  You come up with a few goals, whether they are chores or behaviors, and when they are done your child earns a marble.  Easy right?

Well here is how we run our marble jar.

how to earn marbles

First up is morning routine.  This means making his bed, getting dressed, brushing teeth, etc.  By doing his morning routine - without a fight he earns a marble.

The next 2 are school goals.  Josh has Autism so having behavior goals are important for us.  Where we live they are turning the schools to a project based learning approach and making them based around technology.  It’s actually really neat.  Last year Josh’s class ran a booth at the Farmer’s Market and the kids had to graph inventory (bird feeders and other projects the kids made in art class), make change, etc.  When they learned about the Titanic they all engineered their own boats to see if they could make one ‘unsinkable’.  It’s great because they are excited to learn and for Josh, it forces him to work with other people.  But working in groups is hard.  And can be frustrating.  So he earns a marble for staying on task (it’s easy to get distracted when you don’t sit at a desk and you are in a group!) and doing his best.  We break it up as a marble earned for before lunch and one earned for his work after lunch.

Then, he earns a marble for doing his homework and reading in a reasonable time.  That last part is REALLY important at our home.  Last year we would spend hours on trying to get homework done some nights.


Chores are required in our house.  Nothing major, but just something.  Josh helps with the dishes, sweeps under his chair after dinner and cleans up his room.  Doing his chores earns him a marble.

Lastly, he can earn a marble for his night time routine.  That includes shower, teeth brushing, prayers and in bed (on time!).

If he does extra chores, does really well on a test, meets a speech goal, etc he can earn an extra marble.  We don’t give extra marbles out for every little thing (that kind of defeats the purpose) but it’s mom & dad’s call.

trading in your marbles

So what do we do with all of those marbles?  Well for one, each morning we count how many marbles were earned the day before.  Each marble is worth 10 minutes of TV/Video Game time.  So the day before if he earns 6 marbles he would have 60 minutes of tv time for today.  If he only earned 4 he would have 40 minutes.

Then, at the end of the week we count up all of the marbles.  He has the opportunity to earn 38 marbles (without any bonus marbles).  If he earns up to 38 then each marble is worth 10 cents.  But just like overtime in a real job, if he goes above and beyond and earns for than 38 marbles in a week he earns double pay and his marbles become worth 20 cents each!   It shows that stepping up and doing an extra chore or studying hard really pays off!

marble jar

So…is it working?

YES!! This is by far, the best method we have ever used.  Josh wakes up - makes his bed, brushes his teeth and gets dressed without me saying anything.  He wants that marble!  He gets his work done.  He wants those marbles!! And he really wants double pay! :)

Do you have a system that works for you?