Getting Digital with Token Economies

Caylie Gaccione
Curriculum Specialist
News on November 17 2021

We know how good it feels to get a weekly paycheck or to take a snack break after completing several tasks at work. We receive that positive reinforcement and we are motivated to continue our hard work and efforts. Our students are just the same and thrive off of getting rewarded for completing tasks or exhibiting certain behaviors. Creating a token economy for your students is an excellent option for implementing this type of system.

A token economy is a common, behavioral intervention tool used to provide reinforcement to students. Tokens are used to reinforce specific, target behaviors. The tokens are then traded in for preferred items or activities. In most cases, this system is put into place using tangible items such as paper boards.”Tokens” can be something physical that you can hold in your hand (i.e. chips, printed cards, fake money, etc.), but they can also be something like a tick on a sheet of paper, a hole punch, or a stamp on a card. While the idea of giving a student a reward for reaching a goal is still meaningful, the structure of keeping track of these rewards and distributing them can definitely be improved upon. The solution to unorganized tracking and missing pieces is a digital token economy!

Why go digital?

  • Students love playing and working on devices and a token board can easily be created or uploaded for students to view. They are an excellent visual for students to see what they are working for and if they have earned a reinforcement. Students are excited by the possibilities that come from earning their tokens!
  • Oftentimes, tangible boards include a lot of pieces which can easily be lost or damaged. Going digital eliminates this obstacle.
  • Creating a token board by hand takes a lot of time, and potentially money. Digitally, you do not have this issue!
  • Digital token economies allow for quick awarding, tracking, and redemption. Everything is stored on an app, online platform, or device, which means that you can award points even on the go— the playground, a field trip, in the hall, etc.
  • You can easily customize images or designs for different students to create an individualized experience. Now, you don’t have to worry about re-cutting and laminating every time you want to make a change.

How to create your token board

The main principle is that a child earns acertain number of tokens by engaging in target behaviors, which can then be exchanged for reinforcers. A target behavior could be anything from completing academic tasks like correctly answering questions, to behavioral targets like walking appropriately in the hallway. Remember that the process will be similar for creating a tangible or digital token board.

Here are the steps to creating your own token board:

  • Identify the positive behavior to reinforce. This will be child-specific and should be the behavior that you want them to exhibit. For example, a positive behavior would be a student raising their hand.
  • Identify student’s preferred reward. Remember to consider what each individual student enjoys and will work their hardest to achieve.
  • Decide on a plan. This should be the # of tokens required to earn a reward or how long the award will be given for.
  • Award students with token(s) when the positive behavior is exhibited.
  • Students then trade in tokens for preferred activity.
  • Be sure to tap into student’s interests and include visuals for students with lower receptive language skills.

Make your own digital token board

Example of a digital token board

Digital token boards can be created on several different platforms such as Google Slides, Powerpoint, or SMART Learning Suite Online. No matter which platform you choose, your main goal is to create a visually appealing, digital option for tracking student progress and awarding points.

  • Select your platform
  • Use shapes to build your token board
  • Use shapes or images for “tokens”. These should be cloned so that they can be dragged and dropped onto the token board to track progress
  • If sharing with students be sure to make a copy so that your original copy is not altered<//li>


Example of a token board that shows what he child is working towards.

Provide students with an image of what they are working towards as well as a visual of how many tokens are needed. These board examples count the number of tokens needed to earn a reward, which makes for easy tracking! Tap into a student’s interests! maybe they have a favorite T.V. show, movie character, sport, hobby, or even food. No matter what they are into, your token board can be themed and easily engaging them in earning tokens. Remember that building a token economy for your students is an individualized process. By going digital, you have the flexibility to make changes and improvements to your token boards as your students learn and grow. Be sure to check out our accompanying OTIS course, Making Your Token Economy Digital for resources and tips to get you started.


For more tips, tricks, and tools for teaching in and out of the classroom, check out more articles on the Teq Talk blog.

We also offer virtual professional development, training, and remote learning support for educators with OTIS for educators. Explore the technology, tools, and strategies that can spark student success — no matter where teaching or learning are happening.

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