This post was originally published on Teacher Toni.
On this page, you will find 5 fun classroom incentives that you can use during your distant learning endeavors in grades K-2. With the FREE Virtual Rewards BUNDLE included below and a little prep time, you can implement these strategies as soon as today.
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Digital Learning: An Unexpected Journey
Our careers have shifted in unimaginable ways as our World has found itself in a pandemic. Weeks ago, I recall waking up to go to work (after a long winter of seldom snow-days) and counting down the days until Spring Break. Facebook was filled with memes that confirmed other Teachers were feeling my struggle. Little did any of us know that our Spring Break would turn into an extended, unwelcomed break from our classrooms and little learners.
Teachers have held their ground, though. We are all searching for new outlets to do the only thing we know how to do: teach little people. While I’m still contemplating on new ways to help my fellow teachers is this new area, I know one thing will still ring true: kids are kids and we need their engagement in our new, distant learning endeavors.
So, I’ve used some creativity to prepare some virtual classroom rewards that may help you. Keep in mind though, these tools are also extremely effective in the regular classroom. Even if you don’t need them now, you can always plan to implement them in your regular classroom when we are blessed to be re-united with our schools again.
Virtual Classroom Rewards
These rewards are non-tangible and designed to spark joy among students in Kindergarten, First and Second Grade. As you will notice, they are very simple in nature. Their power lies within your ability to use your Priamary Teacher hype and make them magical.
Reward #1: Make-A-Masterpiece (Mystery Picture)
What it is: Have you ever played mystery picture? Basically, the pieces are hidden and you work to reveal an end product. The same is true for this strategy. You take parts of a picture and slowly add them together to show a masterpiece. It is engaging to see what the end product will be and curiosity is a big factor here!
How to use it: Remember, your hype is key! To use this strategy (that is very popular with online teaching ESL programs like VIPKid), tell your students what they are working to build. Slowly add pieces to your masterpiece at different points of your lesson. Use phrases like, “As soon as we finish this task, we will add another part of our masterpiece!”
What you’ll get in the free BUNDLE are three masterpieces to get you started, all with an Ice-Cream theme that kids love!
Reward #2: The Giggle Box
I love this strategy because humor is highly engaging. As I mentioned in this article about Sight Word Engagement, humor is a top-engagement strategy for K-2 students. This specific strategy will be a student favorite, I promise!
What it is: Simply put, the Giggle Box is a box of jokes! I created this idea after realizing how much my students love jokes and the opportunity to laugh-out-loud. LOL!
How to use it: After some easy prep, your Giggle Box will be ready for action. Simply pull it out and tell students that it contains jokes so funny, they’ll laugh their socks off. Use your “sacred jewel” voice- so students really feel how special it is. Think of good points in your online-teaching to pull it out (at the end of one task as a transition to another is perfect.) After reading the joke, laugh hysterically and watch your students respond in the same way.
In your free Virtual Classroom Rewards BUNDLE, you’ll find all you need to make your own Giggle Box. It includes 26 of the funniest and most age-appropriate jokes I could find.
Reward #3: Silly Face Challenge
You’ll have to be ready to work your face muscles on this one. Remember, humor is highly engaging and produces lasting memory. Your students will adore this easy trick!
What it is: Seemingly, it is a stack of cards with silly faces on them. But, with our magical Primary Teacher powers though, this stack of cards is a “challenge” for students to be silly and mirror those sill faces.
How to use it: Choose a task and tell students that upon completion, you will pull a Silly Face Challenge card. Use your hype language: “I bet you’ll never be able to do this one!” and “Holy Moly! This one is hilarious!” Show the card and watch silly faces on your video-conference OR just make the face yourself as a reward to students who may be watching your pre-recorded videos. Encourage them to do it along with you and then laugh like a hyena to boost their enjoyment.
Reward #4: Library of Silly Sounds
What it is: Kids love crazy sounds. I’ve realized this through the years. So, I have created a library of Silly Sounds to share at different times of my lesson as a reward for engagement.
How to use it: At designated times in your lesson, choose a silly sound to share OR let a student choose a number. After hearing the sound, erupt with laughter (this is they hype they need) and then tell them you can’t wait for the next one.
Technology Note: This reward requires a little tech, so be sure to do a little research before using. This freebie requires Microsoft PowerPoint. A quick Google search of “How to display PowerPoint in _______ (Zoom, Flipgrid, Google Classroom, etc.)” should help you get it up and running. Alternatively, you could also hook this file to an extra device (with speakers) and hold it during your video lesson. Just be sure the volume is high-enough for students to hear the sound.
Reward #5: Class Cheers Choice Board
Do you use classroom cheers in your regular classroom? I do and they can be a huge incentive to students. Digital Learning makes it a little different, but you can still use this simple strategy to encourage high-engagement.
What it is: Class cheers are a verbal and physical response prompted by the Teacher. I’ve noticed that they give students a welcomed opportunity to be loud and spontaneous. I teach my students a lot of cheers and when we do them together, we all feel connected and as part of a team. If you need to learn some class cheers, I have included a choice board of my top 12 favorite cheers and directions on how to use them.
How to use it: First of all, hype them up. Don’t do a half-hearted display here. Make them feel special. Be excited about them and make it rewarding by allowing your students to pick a cheer that everyone will use. This is when your Class Cheer Choice Board will come in handy because each cheer is represented by a picture for easy student choice.
Get your FREE Virtual Rewards BUNDLE here!
Looks like you’re ready to get going! My hope is that these free items help you during this difficult transition! Download the full bundle right here! (Click the image and go straight over to the product page.)
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I hope you’ve found something here that will bring extra joy and peace to your classroom.
Toni is a self-proclaimed little people fanatic. She loves all things Primary Education and thrives on opportunities to provide fellow Teachers with actionable training, resources and advice. Her biggest contribution to the field of education is her undying belief that every child can learn and achieve with a caring advocate to guide them. As Educators have transformed her life, she now works to transform the lives of others through the same passageway. You can find more articles like this on her blog and keep up with her latest training videos on the Teacher Toni Facebook page.