Using Find A Star as a VIPKid Classroom Reward

I LOVE classroom rewards. I loved earning them when I was a student, and I love using them in my ESL classroom today. I even sometimes have fun and use rewards in my job in corporate America. Yes, even executives smile when you give them a glittery star!

I wanted to take some time and walk through each of my favorite types of rewards in more detail. If you aren’t familiar with it, this will give you a good overview. If you are familiar with it, maybe you’ll learn some variations to change it up in your classroom!

Today, our focus will be on my personal favorite: Find A Star (FAS).

What is Find a Star?

In your VIPKid classroom, kids should be rewarded with stars throughout class, but it’s also recommended that you use a secondary reward as well. Find a Star is perfect because it brings both things together! You have a set of numbers or pictures, and students take turns guessing the number or picture. When they choose one, you reveal what’s behind it, and it’s either a star (YAY) or something else (also YAY!) When they find a star, you also reward one in the classroom.

How to Introduce Find a Star

At the beginning of the lesson, I simply say, “When you do a good job, you get a number! It will be a star or a ______. Ok?”

When it’s time to pick, I say, “Good job! You get a number. What number do you want?” If they struggle with this, you can give them options: “Do you want one or two?” They usually get the hang of it quickly. I even use this with most level one students!

Print vs. Digital

This game can be played using 2-d printed stars and numbers or digitally. You will see in the video below that I use a combination. I play the game digitally, but I do have a printed number grid posted in the background where I put stars when they find one.

To use a printed version:

  1. Print out cards with numbers on them. I prefer games that use 10 numbers. That allows for all five stars to be found and then you have five others.
  2. Print out as many stars as you want to give out. Make sure they fit behind your printed numbers.
  3. Print out the remaining number of images that are not stars. You can use anything for this: frowny faces, My Little Ponies, Ultraman – basically, use anything that you think your student would like. That makes the non-star finds fun too!
  4. Before class, arrange the numbers with each item behind them on a whiteboard, cookie sheet, or clipboard. You can make these magnetic by taping magnets to the back, or you can use scotch tape. Use what works for you!

To use a digital version:

  1. Find your favorite digital FAS! If you aren’t using them yet, go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/vipkidgs/ and check out the announcements to get started!
  2. Get ready to play!
  3. You can use printed stars in conjunction with a digital FAS, but you don’t have to. It’s totally your preference

See it in Action

You can see how I use Find a Star in this video! I talk about all things Google Slides, but you can fast forward to about 3:23 if you want to see Find a Star specifically!

Google Slides is an easy way to integrate technology in the ESL classroom!

In this video, I held up my phone to reveal the rewards. Since then, I’ve begun using OBS that allows me to display it in my classroom or even use a green screen.

Using FAS with green screen in class.
Displaying FAS using OBS.

Find a Star Variations

There are many ways you can change your Find a Star game if you want to make it different. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Use different numbers. Instead of 1-10, add increments of 10 (10, 20, 30, 40, etc.) or use higher numbers (11, 12, 13) or even random numbers (48, 72, 123.) This can make the game more age-appropriate. If you are printing cards, you can either use pre-printed flash cards to do this, or you can have a stockpile of different numbers. With Google Slides, you can make a copy of any reward and just change the numbers.
  • Use letters, pictures, or vocabulary words instead of numbers. Many google slides options already have these. You can usually find them by searching in Slidekick by the lesson number.
  • Use 3-d objects for your FAS. I have a few puzzles that I’ve hidden stars behind the pieces. This can be a fun change of pace.
  • Use different types of stars. No one says you have to use the same stars all the time. You can have stars that reflect the lesson content, or have funny stars, or character-themed stars. My favorite thing to do (when I have time) is make custom rewards with unique stars in digital form and then print off copies to use. My students are usually surprised by this, so it makes it fun for me. If you’re looking for some ideas, I’ve started putting a few of my stars on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Extending with Find a Star

My favorite part of any reward is using it as extension in the lesson. Here are just a few ideas for how to do this. The list below starts with younger kiddos and moves to more advanced students.

  • Just having them choose a number can sometimes be extension enough, especially with your youngest students!
  • Have them ask for the number in a complete sentence. Instead of “1” have them say “I want number one.”
  • Have them also tell you the color of the square. “I want the red number one.”
  • When they find a star, have them tell you how many stars they have. “I have three stars.”
  • If you are using stars that are different colors, have them describe the stars, too. “I have two red stars and one blue star.”
  • When they don’t find a star, have them answer questions about the item, picture or gif that they find. “How does he feel?” “Do you like ___?” “What is it?”
  • Have them guess what will be under the number. “What do you think it will be?”
  • Have them describe the star or the picture to you. (Remember to always encourage complete sentences!) You can change it up by having them ask questions about it, make exclamations, etc!
  • Have them answer an open-ended question about what they find. “Tell me about a time you saw a _____.” “How does _____ make you feel?” “Why do you think ______?”
  • Give them a sentence about what they find and have them correct spelling, grammar, or punctuation in the sentence.

However you choose to play, Find a Star can make a fun game to reward your students and extend on the lesson. Do you have other ideas on how to play? Let me know in the comments!

Slidekick: Rewards

There are so many ways you can use Slidekick to quickly and easily identify the best reward for your student.

This is the second post in a 5-part series all about Slidekick, the app developed by a VIPKid teacher, for VIPKid teachers.

Be sure you check out Issue 1 (Getting Started) to get the basics!

I LOVE using Google Slides for rewards. While there are a lot of great ways you can use slides, this one is my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE!  As of this moment, there are 5,347 rewards loaded in Slidekick spanning 35 different categories. (And because I’m an editor in the group, I can see many, many more just waiting for editing and approval!)

Within Slidekick, there are several ways you can search for rewards specifically.

Option 1: Search by reward keyword.

  1. At the bottom of the app, click on the star that’s labelled “Rewards.”
  2. Click on “View All Rewards” at the top of the screen.
  3. Use the search bar at the top to type in keywords.
    • These could be lesson-specific like “food,” “animals,” “India” etc.
    • Or they could be interest-based like “Batman,” “lego,” or “princess.”

It’s usually best to use one keyword to narrow it down; sometimes multiple keywords don’t return great results. For example, instead of searching for “Spiderman, Ironman, and Hulk” try searching for “Superhero.”

Option 2: Search by reward type.

There are so many different reward types here. To search for a certain reward type:

  1. At the bottom of the app, click on the star that’s labelled “Rewards.”
  2. Click on “View Reward Categories” at the top of the screen.
  3. Click on the reward type that you want to use, and you can browse all rewards of that type.

I’m going to resist the urge to talk about them all. (That’s a topic for another blog series.) Instead, I’ll list just a few of my favorites. A few of my favorite reward types are:

  • Find a Star (FAS): Students select a number (or vocab word, or picture.) Some of the options will reveal a star, while others will reveal a picture or gif. You can see an example of this in action in my blog post about Using Google Slides with VIPKid.
  • Pick One: This is similar to FAS, but there are usually two options to choose from. The student chooses one and a picture, gif, or scene is revealed. Sometimes there are stars incorporated into these, and sometimes there are not.
  • Candyland: This is my favorite for my younger students who might not be comfortable making decisions in class. In Candyland, students “spin” the wheel and land on different colored spaces. Each space correlates to something related to the lesson, and then there’s a gif that’s related.
  • UA Maps: These are special rewards designed that align with the “maps” or gameboards in the lessons for Unit Assessments.

Option 3: Search by Lesson

Some people choose the reward based on the student, while others choose it as a way to extend upon the lesson. If you are looking for the latter, there’s a slightly different process to find your reward.

  1. At the bottom of the app, click “lessons.”
  2. Either scroll through the list or use the search bar to find the lesson you will be teaching.
  3. Click on the lesson.
  4. Click on “Extension Rewards.”
  5. Scroll through the list of recommended rewards for this lesson.

It’s important to note that not all of the possible rewards for a lesson will be listed. So if you don’t see one that suits your desired needs, try searching under “rewards” for the lesson number or keyword.

There are so many ways you can use Slidekick to quickly and easily identify the best reward for your student. I encourage you to play around in the app and try it out for yourself.

If you’re looking for more, be sure you come back for the rest of the series! Or you can always see it in action on YouTube as well!

In the next three issues, we’ll dive deeper into:

  • Issue 3: Props & Lessons
  • Issue 4: Rapport
  • Issue 5: Bringing it all Together

In the meantime, be sure to visit the Google Slides Facebook group to get started.

If you have questions, please feel free to let me know in the comments.  Until then – happy teaching, and happy sliding!

Slidekick: Getting Started

This is the first post in a 5-part series all about Slidekick, the app developed by a VIPKid teacher, for VIPKid teachers.

What is Slidekick?

Slidekick is an app that was developed to help VIPKid teachers find, organize, and use Google Slides in ESL classrooms.

Where can I get Slidekick?

It is not available in any app store, and it is not for sale.  You can only get it by being a member of the VIPKid teacher community, and the easiest way to connect is through Facebook.

Once you join the Facebook group, go to “Announcements” and check out the Slide Guide. There, you will find a link to download Slidekick (along with many other useful resources!)

The first time you download it on each device (phone, laptop, iPad, etc.) you will be asked to provide an email address.  You’ll be emailed a code that you need to input in order to proceed with the download. Occasionally, you’ll be prompted to get another code, but for the most part, I stay logged in without going through this additional step.

How much does Slidekick cost?

Nothing. Nada. Zip. Slidekick (and all VIPKid Google Slides) are free for use in the VIPKid classroom.

What can I do with Slidekick?

You’ll learn more about how to use Slidekick in the next four blog posts; however, here’s a sneak peek at what’s in store!

  • News and Updates from your Google Slides admin team.
  • About the VIPKid #GS Group – learn the history of this phenomenal group of people and resources!
  • Who’s Who in Google Slides: Find out who the admins, moderators, and editors are. Thank or tip them for their work in Google Slides.
  • #GS Admin Team: Meet the Sliders behind this group and find out more about these amazing individuals.
  • Create & Contribute: Find templates and resources to help you create your own Google Slides creations! Upload them right from the app!
  • Join Us! Join the Google Slides admin team for recorded and live training sessions!
  • Rewards: Search by category or topic for specific rewards to use in class.
  • Lessons: Search by lesson for props, extension rewards, feedback templates, and lesson notes!

You will NOT be able to display slides from within Slidekick. There are other options that are recommended (also in the Slide Guide!) for the options people use to display the slides.

In the next four issues, we’ll dive deeper into:

  • Issue 2: Rewards
  • Issue 3: Props & Lessons
  • Issue 4: Rapport
  • Issue 5: Bringing it all Together

In the meantime, be sure to visit the Google Slides Facebook group to get started.

If you’d like to see a quick walk-through on screen, check out the accompanying YouTube video:

Slidekick – Episode 1

Slidekick 1 thumbnail

If you have questions, please feel free to let me know in the comments.  In the meantime – happy teaching, and happy sliding!

 

Classroom Dice Games

Next weekend, I’m hosting a VIPKid meetup. I’m so excited to meet other teachers in my area, and I want them to walk away with a little bit of inspiration.  So I have tried to put together some fun and creative things in their goodie bags that will help.

One of the things that I’m giving away at the meetup is a laminated packet of dice games that you can play in class, along with a super-cute die that I got at the Dollar Tree. (You guys – these came two in a pack for a dollar!) Here’s a similar, slightly smaller version available through my affiliate link at Amazon.com.

Why play a dice game in class?

First of all, it’s fun! These kids have long, hard days so I want to make their classes with me as fun as possible. Also, games can be an excellent form of extension in class. Here’s a short video I made to show how I would use this tool in action!

VIPKid Dice Games

What types of games do you play?

There is a wide variety of games you can play with a single die in class. I’ve tried to include some of my favorites.

  • Draw with me: Each time the student earns a reward, you (and maybe the student) get to draw a part of a picture. Based on what number you roll on the dice, that will determine how you should *try* to draw it. Note “try” is the key word. I’m not much of an artist, but that makes it even more fun!
  • Conversation starters: These can be great for older students in particular. You roll the dice, and you ask them a question, or they ask you a question!
  • Action games: These are excellent for younger, wigglier students. Each time they roll the dice, it will tell them a specific action to do. These can be customized to a specific lesson (Are they learning about farm animals? Act like a cow, horse, sheep, pig, etc.) Or they can be pure fun (dance party, high five, etc.)

Extension Ideas

I mentioned that these can be excellent forms of extension. At the simplest level, it gives your students experience counting. They can say the numbers or count the dots. If you are drawing, it can be a good opportunity to practice shapes. You can customize the games to be lesson-specific (and if you run out of ideas, there are plenty of others out on the Internet!) My favorite rewards are those that get the kids thinking about the lesson in new and different ways!

Where can I get these?

If you don’t happen to be coming to my meetup, don’t worry! You can download these yourself at https://www.vipkidresources.com/. This is an amazing site by Jennifer Anderson with a variety of props and rewards.

How can I customize this for other uses?

I would have loved to have used this type of game when I was a corporate trainer. I personally would have the game posted or written on the whiteboard at the beginning of class and set goals for the day. Each time we met one of our goals, I would draw part of the picture on an easel, and every student could draw on a large post it. For the dice, I probably would use something like these!

I hope you found this helpful. Have you tried this in your classroom? I’d love to hear how it went in the comments!

If you are new to VIPKid and would like some help getting started, I’d love to help with any questions you may have. Let me know how I can help you through the application process!