Printable version of reinforcer list

Reinforcer of the week:

Foam sticker buckets come in all sorts of themes and can be used in a variety of ways. You can find them at most craft stores.


Make a snowman! Cut out two circles from construction paper and glue them to together in a snowman shape. Provide your child with glue, cotton balls, markers, black and orange felt (hat and nose), and other supplies so they can make their own puffy snowman.

Use Crayola's Color Explosion Board to draw pictures. Turn off the lights to see the picture glow in the dark.

Trace the child's hand on a couple of pieces of colored construction paper. Cut them out (or have the child do so) and glue them on a piece of paper, overlapping, to looks like turkey feathers. Encourage the child to draw a head and legs.

Make native American headdresses (this project can be spread out a larger portion of the session, completing it in stages).  Cut a strip of stiff paper that will fit around the child's head.  Provide the child with beads, feathers, markers, and ribbons to decorate the headdress.  When the decorating is done, staple or tape the headdress together so the child can wear it.

Decorate a pumpkin using washable markers.  Completing one face can be spread out over time (e.g., draw the eyes for one correct response, mouth for the next, etc.)  If the child wishes, wipe the marker off with a wet sponge and start all over again with a new design.

It's an oldie, but a goodie.  Sprinkle 1 tbsp baking soda into an empty clean plastic water bottle that is sitting on a baking sheet (to catch the mess).  Pour in 1/4 cup vinegar and watch the eruption.  To make it even cooler, add some drops of red food coloring.

Set up a Jenga set and take turns removing blocks until the tower collapses.  Vary this by placing action figures on top of the tower and watch them fall when the tower comes tumbling down.

Baffle & entertain kids with this Rising Ring magic trick.

With the advances in Smartphones, there are a lot of free games available to download (e.g., Teeter). Let the child play the game for 30 seconds or so at a time.

Make a simple puppet out of a sock. Draw on facial features and hair. Use the puppet to pretend to eat the child's toes and fingers. Pretend the puppet doesn't like the taste and "spits" out the child's toes.

Put together an invention box, filled w/old household items, such as paper towel rolls, plastic containers, plastic spoon & straws, etc. Supply the child with masking tape and markers and encourage them to use their imagination to make something (e.g., robot, animal, etc.)

Try this pepper magic trick that requires just a few household items.

Try a simple magic trick, such as the Jumping Paper Clips. Here are instructions:

Play a speed version of Simon Says. Trade off for who gets to be Simon.

Fill a box with rice and hide small toys in the rice for the child to find.

Put a tissue on your face, while looking towards the ceiling, and blow the tissue.  Lay one on the child's face so he/she can do the same.

Read a book to the child, substituting his/her name and names of family and friends for the characters in the book.

Have the child's stuffed animals jump to cheer for him/her and do flips in the air.

Use a child's microphone (real or the large plastic ones from the dollar store) to sing songs or make funny animal sounds.  Let the child make a noise or say something silly and then copy him/her.

Draw various buttons on a piece of paper and have the child press one.  Each button makes you do something silly (e.g., roar like a monster, fall off your chair, or tickle the child).

Turn on the music and start dancing.  The child has to stop dancing when the music is turned off.  Vary between short and long dance intervals to keep the child on his/her toes.

Set up a small tower of plastic cups and shoot Nerf darts or foam discs at them.  Set an action figure on top so that it falls when the tower collapses.

Have fun with science.  Pour a couple of tablespoons of baking soda into a cup.  Place the cup on a baking sheet (to control the mess) and pour some vinegar into the cup.  Instant volcano!

Put tape over your mouth and try to talk.  Use large, expressive hand and arm gestures to try to get your point across.

Ask the child to pump your arm up and down.  As he/she pumps, start to expand your cheeks as though you are blowing up with air.  Once your cheeks are full, gesture for the child to press your cheeks and pretend to deflate noisily.

Cup your hands together and pretend that there is something exciting or scary inside (peek inside with one eye, without letting the child see).  When it is the child's turn to peek inside, pretend that a tickle monster jumps out to tickle him/her.

Draw a monster face on the palm of your hand, then hold the wrist of that hand with the other hand, trying to stop the monster from getting you or the child.  Ask the child to help you stop the monster.

Lie on your back on the floor and make the child fly on your feet like Superman.  Then do the same thing to one of the child's toys or stuffed animals.

Lay child on his stomach on a child-sized table.  Using child's feet and shoulder, spin him/her around on the table.

Wear a hooded sweatshirt with a drawstring and make your head disappear as you tighten the string.  Ask the child to help you out.

Holding the child's foot, pretend to dial a telephone number on his toes.  Put the phone to your ear and have a conversation.  Gently push the child's foot towards his ear while saying, "It's for you.  Come on, they really want to talk to you."

Hold each of the child’s wrists and shake their arms as though they were floppy pieces of spaghetti. For most kids, the faster you shake, the bigger the laugh.

Sit the child in a sturdy child-sized chair and lift the chair into the air, flying it around the room.

As child sits in a child-sized chair, slowly tip the chair backwards. Some children like to go a short distance, while others like to be tipped as far back as possibly. Use your feet to stop the chair from slipping and only do this on carpeted surfaces.

As the child sits in a chair, hold onto one front and one back leg of the chair and lift it into the air. Prompt the child to say, “Elevator up/dow” or press your nose to control the elevator.

Run your hands over the table as though they were spiders. Prompt the child to squash the spiders with an open hand. Sometimes allow the child to get you, and other times move your hand so that the child misses.

Hide a toy or stuffed animal under the child’s shirt, in the shirt sleeve or up the pant leg. Pretend to look in various places before you find it.

Place a toy on your head and pretend to sneeze, bending your head forward so that the toy falls off.

Tickling games are most effective when you use anticipation. Hold up the child’s arm and say, “I’m going to get you under here.” Drop the arm and say, “No way.” Hold up the child’s other arm and feet, one at a time and do the same thing. End with tickling their stomach or under their arms.

Lie on the ground, put your feet in the air, and prompt the child to put their chest on your feet while you hold onto their hands. Raise the child in the air to fly like Superman or Buzz Lightyear while saying, “To infinity and beyond.”

Place the child on your lap, facing you, and do a horse ride, while singing the Lone Ranger theme or reciting the following poem:

This is the way the lady rides – trit trot, trit trot (bouncing gently)

This is the way the gentleman rides – gallop-a-trot, gallop-a-trot (bouncing higher)

This is the way the farmer rides – hobble-dee-hoy, hobble-dee-hoy (bouncing energetically)

(End with tipping the child backwards.)

Place the child on your lap, facing away from you, and pretend to be a motorcycle. Prompt the child to hold onto your arms while you pretend to turn corners, go fast, and stop.

Engage in a pillow fight with the child. End it by piling several pillows on top of the child.

Ask the child to lie on the floor, on his back. Grab the child’s ankles and lift him into the air, swinging him back and forth like a clock.

Place the child in a towel and blanket, and pull him across the floor or swing them gently in the air.

Set the child’s chair beside your chair and pretend you are in a car – fasten seatbelts, turn on the car, turn, stop.

Do high fives with hands or feet, sometimes allowing the child to slap your hands and other times quickly pulling your hands away so that they miss.

Jumping high fives – require child to jump to reach your hands.

Put the child in a plastic laundry basket and “drive” it around the room.

Rocket ship – count down from 10 and throw the child in the air. At times, pretend the rocket ship is broken and won’t launch. Prompt the child to lightly “hammer” your arms with his hand to fix it and then proceed with blast off.

Pretend that you’re going to eat the child’s toes or fingers. Use loud, exaggerated eating noises as you’re doing this.

Lay the child on the floor, on his back. Pretend that he is a pizza. Spread pretend sauce on him, put on various ingredients, cook in the oven, slice, and eat.

Pretend to smell child’s feet and loudly say “Ooo, stinky!” while waving your hand in from of your nose.

Ask the child to be a monster or ghost. When they roar at you or say, “Boo!”, pretend to be scared and fall off your chair.

With the child standing in front of you, encircle his waist with your arms and pretend to be a washing machine going through the various cycles.

Build a fort with chairs and blankets and have the child hide in it as you pretend to be a scary monster or dinosaur.

Prompt the child to touch your various facial features (nose, each cheek, chin, ears) and make different noises (animal sounds, motorboat noise, etc.) for each thing he touches.

Sling the child over your shoulder (firefighter carry) and pretend you can’t find him. “Where is (name)? Where are you?”

Tell the child to “Go play”. As they are leaving, grab the back of their shirt, pull them back, and playfully say, “No, you come back here.” Do several times. On the last one, pretend to try to grab his shirt, but let him escape.

Pretend to fall asleep, with your head on the table, and prompt the child to make a loud ringing sound like an alarm clock. Wake up, sitting up suddenly, and pretend that the child surprised you.

Put one of your arms out and when the child pushes it down, make a cranking sound, and raise the opposite arm. When the child tries to hold both arms down, raise your leg.

Using your hands, pretend to crack an egg over the child’s head, dragging your fingers over his hair to simulate the dripping egg.

Hide a reinforcer and go on a treasure hunt to find it. Give the child clues along the way.

Smartphone Apps.

Talking Tom Cat (free). Tom will drink milk, "scratch" the screen, fall down when poked, and repeat what you say. Kids get a great kick out of this!



Go to for lyrics and downloads of songs.

Tiny Tim Turtle

5 Monkeys Swinging in a Tree

Popcorn Popping

Itsy Bitsy Spider

2, 4, 6, 8 cheer

Singing “Jump” by Van Halen and jumping in appropriate places

There' a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea from Veggie Tales


Oil and sparkles in a clear plastic bottle

Oil and water toys

Mini bowling set

Foam dart guns

Books (read 1-2 pages at a time)

Wind-up toys

Top (some have music and/or lights)

Bubbles (and various bubble machines/toys)

Squirt guns

Silly string





Silly Putty



Paper airplanes

PlayDoh with various accessories, such as molds and presses.

Some of the social reinforcers listed came from the newsletters sent out by LIFE (Lovaas Institute for Early Intervention).  Please head to their site to sign up for the helpful newsletters.