I don't pass out candy regularly. I can't afford it, and I think it's a bad habit to get into. In some cases, though, I think having parties as a class can be fun. Sometimes the parties are curriculum-related, such as my tea party for Three Cups of Tea and Victorian Christmas Party for A Christmas Carol. They can really enhance the curriculum. Somtimes though, you just have to celebrate!
I work with students with ADHD, so candy is a huge no-no. What I do find is a good motivator as far as food goes, though is an end of week celebration. This way, they focus better throughout the week knowing that there is a goal at the end. Then I give them doughnuts and send them home to their parents. It's horrible, I know.
I have also given out candy and treats in class. The only problem that I have with this method of reward, believe it or not, is the litter that is created around the school because the students drop the wrappers EVERYWHERE!
I usually feel so guilty about messing up the halls that I go around picking up the wrappers all over the building. I always say that I won't give out candy again, or I will control it, but it always happens that some kid puts the candy in his/her pocket and it leaves the room. The kids don't have the same sense of responsibility about putting the wrappers in the pail as someone of my generation, a child of the 70s. I would never, never throw anything on the floor. I went to Catholic School, the nuns slammed a ruler or a pointer across your hands for a far less offense. Kids today don't care.
Cool idea, Linda. For those of us who are not teaching at the college level, the food/drink issue really boils down to the individual student, I believe. There are some to whom I would entrust food and drink consumption, while there are equally others I wouldn't allow to eat or drink in my own kitchen for fear of a quasi-nuclear disaster.
That said, what's good for the goose is good for the gander, the old saw goes, and if I allow a class to partake of something, I can't very well single out student A or B because they're walking health hazards. So, in the end, I suppose the inedible rewards often work best.
I hate that it's true, but you can get more out of some students just by offering a "reward." The problem is that those same students begin to expect that reward and won't do anything unless they get one. That said, I don't hand out candy, but I do give snack and drink passes. If the student has earned a pass, he or she can get a drink or snack before class starts and have it during class.
I teach high school, and while I am careful about those students with diabetes, I do give candy for correct answers on our daily oral grammar lesson--a class starter of 5-10 minutes where the students correct all that is wrong in a sentence I have written on the board. They absolutely love it, and it draws people into the mix who would otherwise remain silent in class discussion.
For those students who are diabetic or do not like a certain kind of candy, I always have other treats...popcorn, etc.
I also give students a candy bar or other treat and a "Happy Birthday from your Teacher" pencil for their birthdays as a little celebration of the day they came into the world. They let me know if I forget, too. :)
I, too, teach college, and occasionally will provide candy rewards for in-class activities. College students often bring snacks to class--particularly the longer evening classes--and they so enjoy free treats. As long as the students enjoy the occasional treats as rewards, the system works. I do, though, have alternatives for those who cannot or do not eat candy for whatever reason. I myself do not like chocolate, so I put myself in students' minds. So I have a stash of snack-size boxes of raisins or something similar as an alternative. The activities for which I do this include role-playing during an in-depth discssion of a literary work, in which the student--in the guise of a character--will answer classmates' and my questions. It's a lot of fun all around, and I have never had any problems or negative reactions.
I teach college and I do give candy rewards when we do certain activities. They LOVE it! I usually do so when we are doing reviews for final exams. When a student answers a review question correctly, he/she is given a miniature candy bar of their choice from a large, large bag I purchase. Student have so much fun with it and I do, too. Usually, I toss the candy bar to them from the front of the room, which is also fun for them and for me. We play catch LOL. I personally see nothing wrong with it at the college level or at any other level that doesn't have bans on sweets, etc. I find it harmless and fun for the students.
I don't think being given food/candy as a reward would be considered healthy, especially if you were giving those rewards to younger children. These kids would be expecting food treats after every time they are successful. We need to teach children that they must work hard for knowledge and success and not just for food. Also, can you imagine if a child gets obese or diabetic because you fed them these rewards?