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Character Cash; Encouraging Positive Character Traits in the Classroom


We teach the ins and outs of character education all the time. We teach multiple character traits on a daily, weekly or monthly basis all throughout the year. But when do we let our students know that we are watching for them to exhibit those traits? When do we let our students know that they actually have exhibited the trait we are focusing on?

We talk about what each traits means and how to show it. But are we actually watching for students to exhibit them? Or simply teaching character ed and hoping that they do? In what ways are we acknowledging students for their character trait choices?

Now many schools may already have a school-wide recognition system in place such as Cougar Paws, which is a wonderful system for following school-wide expectations. Students can earn them by following some sort of school-wide routine such as the school rules: Be safe, Be respectful, Be responsible. With this sort of system, many character traits do fall into those categories. It’s true that sometimes being respectful can also be showing kindness. Sometimes when someone is doing something safely, they can be showing self-control. Sometimes when someone is being responsible (like working really hard on a difficult assignment), they are showing perseverance. But not all the time. And the plethora of character traits that we may teach do not always fit into such a broad category.

Character cash

This is where having a system for recognizing students for exhibiting each specific character trait we teach comes in. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to say to your students, “Isabelle, you showed great teamwork when you worked with Zoey to figure out how to solve that problem. Here’s your Teamwork Character Cash.” or “Jalika you were very generous when you brought in those cans for the food drive. Here’s your Generosity Character Cash.” or “Jose you showed integrity when you refused to let the other kids pressure you into throwing snowballs at recess. Here’s your Integrity Character Cash.”

An image of character cash for integrity An image of character cash for teamwork

Below are some ideas on how to use a character trait recognition system in your school or classroom and a link to a FREEBIE!

How to use it

Character Cash can be used as a stand alone system or in conjunction with a school recognition system. You can use it:

As a reward system

  • On a daily basis
  • On a weekly basis
  • On a monthly basis

As a tool to determine who earns the monthly character trait award

As a communication piece between you and your students

Write on the back of the character cash to let your students know exactly what it was that they did that exhibited that trait

As a school-home connection

To communicate with parents on the wonderful things their child is doing at school

A black and white image of character cash for kindnessAn image of a note from a teacher to a student explaining why they earned the character cash that is written on the back of that student's character cash


There are also various ways you can set-up your character cash system. You can:

*Print the cash out in color and laminate them for repeated use

*Print the cash out in black and white to allow students to take it home

If you’d like to write a note on the back, each set-up could still work. If you choose to print in color and laminate, just use a vis-a-vis marker or a sharpie. Then wipe it off when you get it back (sharpie comes off really nicely with rubbing alcohol).


Here is a link to ready made Character Cash that covers 31 character traits:

A picture of the cover of the character cash resource that shows what the character traits of teamwork, courage, optimism, integrity and respect look like

If you’d like to try it out with the character trait of kindness, click here:

A picture of the cover of the FREE set of character cash for the character trait of kindness



  • As a school counselor, I LOVE THIS.

    What are some ways you’ve implemented this on a school-wide scale, especially for monthly character recognition assemblies?

    • Thank you!! My students love it also! One way you can use it for monthly character recognition assemblies would be to award the top student (or top 3 students) in each class that earned the most character cash. You could also award the top students in each grade level if individual classes doesn’t work for you. You can also give an award to the top class that earned the most character cash as a whole class (we give one out for the top K-2 class and one for the top 3-5 class). I hope these ideas spark something wonderful for your school! 🙂


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