I work with a young child who likes the idea of monsters eating princesses…and I really want him to work on handwriting (a -preferred task).
Today we talked about how nice letters are “princess” letters and that monsters love eating them. (Monsters ignore ugly letters). I found a red dry-erase marker and we started at the beginning of the alphabet. He would draw a letter and if it was perfect (or as close to perfect as I felt he could handle), he got to have the monster eat it. Symbolized by scribbling over it with red marker.
Somehow, this co-evolved to include the idea that I had an (imaginary) castle I was guarding, as I had a bunch of small figurines in front of me we had been using earlier. So along with the monster eating it, he would get to take one of my guards to his side. I would plead “Don’t take THIS guard, he is my best starfish! I NEED him! Please draw an ugly letter so I can keep him!” He would promptly refuse and draw a beautiful letter and then gleefully take my guard. As we ran out of guards we used other things including story cube dice, pencils, etc…until we got to Z. So he had taken ALL my guards and my castle was destroyed, boo hoo. I told him next session he better do a really bad job. He just smiled and refused. 🙂
I attached the final picture. I know it’s hard with all the red, but it worked for the first time and I’ll slowly fade that away.