A token work system is a visual representation of task accomplishment.  Students are given a clear visual cue of how much time needs to be spent on the task, how many components of the task need to be accomplished and, how much time or tasks are left before they receive a reward, take a break, or finish an activity.  As the task is gradually being completed, the teacher gives the student a "token" to place on  his board.  This helps the student tolerate longer work tasks, keeping the reward in sight!

Reinforcement Schedule is a term that simply means how often you give the reinforcement, or in this case, a token.  You can give the student a token at different times, depending on the needs of your individual student:

  • During obvious, natural pauses in the steps of the activity, such as after they complete each step.
  • Intermittently during the activity to maintain their interest and willingness to continue.  This works especially well to maintain the desired behavior and is well documented in research.
  • After an approximation of the desired behavior/task. For example, a student may be yelling out during a lesson.  The teacher gives direction, "quiet voice" and waits for the student to stop yelling.  If the student stops even briefly, reinforcing this approximate compliance, or brief instance of the desired behavior may help to guide the student to continued efforts.

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  • Symbols to represent reinforcing item/activity
  • Blank grid of the number of expected assignments
  • Reward Token- can be a random icon, such as a star or ticket, but COULD be a highly motivating character, item to make the board more appealing

Development Resources

Inexpensive Printable Token Boards:

Learning Resources:

Strip Puzzle Example


A fun twist on the token board is to make each "token" a piece of a simple STRIP PUZZLE that builds to show the student's favorite activity. As the student collects the puzzle pieces (tokens) for their time on task, they begin to see their favorite reward activity. Once the puzzle is complete, you can both enjoy the reward activity, together if you both like!

We borrowed this idea from teachers who have use these strip puzzles to teach sequencing numbers or spelling in a motivating manner. To us, it looked like a great way to let students "see" their progress toward their favorite activity!


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