To start the challenge, I created this practice chart:
I wrote the weekly assignments under the proper headings, and my students would color in a bead for each day of practice per category. Seven bonus points could be earned when a student completed an activity that went beyond the lesson assignment (i.e., attend a concert and bring a program to your lesson; learn a song on your own and play it at your lesson, etc.).
The end goal of earning beads was to make a bracelet for mothers/grandmothers/guardians as a special keepsake and thank you for encouraging their children to practice and for bringing them to lessons. To ensure it remained a "surprise", students could trade-in their beads for prizes! Twenty beads could be exchanged for a Shopkins figurine or Japanese puzzle eraser. Gifts cards in varying amounts could be purchased with a greater amount of beads (50 for $5, 100 for $10, and 200 for $20). At the very end of the lesson, each student would count the beads that were earned during the previous week and toss them into a sandwich bag. I wrote the amount of beads earned, and subtracted beads when trade-ins were made on the bag. I never actually took beads out of the bags, though, since I was saving them to make the bracelets.
I found the beads at Michaels and Joann Fabrics. Since this incentive was planned since last year, I was able to shop sales and use coupons to get some beautiful beads at a reasonable price. The beads were kept in a mason jar on top of the piano.
This article and the embedded tutorial were very helpful when it was time to assemble the bracelets for presentation at the recital. It's not in the tutorial, but I decided to add crimp covers to the bracelets to make them look more professional. Here are the finished products, each bead representing time spent practicing:
The bracelets vary in size depending on how many beads were earned during the incentive. I think they all look beautiful, and I can't wait to present them to my students' mothers at the recital!