Grade K-2

Tricks for Treats

Updated: June 25 2015,
Author: Mickey Ebert

Students will recognize that people (and animals) will work for incentives.


dogDiscuss how dogs will work for treats. Tell students that some dogs work for pats on their heads, belly rubs, and to please their owners, as well as food. All of those things are incentives. People like incentives, also. People make a choice to do good work so that they can get rewarded with types of treats. What treats do students like to get? [Stickers, stars, smiles, hugs, pats on the back, eating lunch with the teacher, making teachers, parents, or themselves proud, etc.] Do pets like to work for treats? [Yes.] Do students like to get treats? [Yes.] Why do the dogs do tricks? [To get a treat.] Why do students choose to do good work? [To get a treat.] Remind students that treats can be good feelings about themselves, approval from someone else, positive words about their work as well as stickers, food, or mone

Learning Objectives

  • Illustrate their understanding that treats motivate people and they would work to earn a treat.

(NOTE: Another word for treat is incentive. The word incentive can be used in the discussion of this lesson, but the author did not feel it was a word that could be read by the younger child and so would not be appropriate to write it in the student’s version of the lesson.)

Resource List


Have the students click on the dog Emily Elizabeth will read to them. The story Emily reads is "Tummy Trouble," and from this story the students will find out why Clifford does tricks. The words in red make things happen. When the students are finished they will answer the questions below.

View Interactive Activity

Why did Clifford do a trick for Emily Elizabeth? [To get a treat.] Why did T-Bone do a trick for Cleo? [To get a treat.] If you want your dog to do a trick, what do you think you should do? [Give the dog a treat.] Can you do a trick? [Yes.] What kind of tricks can you do? [Tricks such as whistling, tumbling, dancing, etc.] What is something you could do to earn a treat at school? [Work neatly, help others, clean up work areas, be quiet, do the best work you can, etc.] A treat does not have to be food. Can you think of other treats? [Stickers, stars, smiles, a pat on the back, money, eating lunch with the teacher, etc.] Fold a piece of paper in half. Draw a picture of a treat you like to have on one side of the page. Draw a picture of yourself doing something to earn the treat on the other side.


Incentives motivate people to do good work. Incentives can be many things. People’s behavior is influenced by incentives.

Extension Activity

If you click on on the links below you will find color sheets or games to play. You may also want students to draw different animals and draw them enjoying their special treats. Ask students what treat they would like to get when they finish these activities?


rabbitEmily Elizabeth would like to read the students another story. Have the students click on The Runaway Rabbit link and listen while Emily reads them a story about Wally, the classroom bunny. Then ask the students to answer the questions below.

View Interactive Activity

Why does the rabbit follow Clifford back home? [Clifford ties a carrot to his tail so that Wally will follow him.] When Wally got back in his cage what treat did he earn? [A carrot.] What other treats might a bunny like to have? [Lettuce, flowers, rabbit food, grass, etc.] Will animals work for a treat? [Yes.] Will people work for treats? [Yes.]