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:
- 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.
- Print out as many stars as you want to give out. Make sure they fit behind your printed numbers.
- 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!
- 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:
- 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!
- Get ready to play!
- 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!
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.
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!