It’s not as intimidating as it seems, though! And over time I’ve created some ideas that I really like.
Here are my favorite, easy peasy lemon squeezy reward systems for VIP Kid teachers. And these reward systems are great for any online English teacher, really! They make excellent additions to your online classroom.
TIPS FOR SUCCESSFUL REWARDSAdapt your reward system based on age, level, and student preference.
- With beginner students, it’s more about showing it to them and saying the name of the object (apple!), or the number of objects they have (2 apples!).
- With more advanced students, I like asking them questions about the reward and if they like/dislike it. This often teaches them something – maybe they’ll learn the name of the object, or you can ask about colors, or discuss something related to it. This is a great way to extend or use extra time with students who breeze through the lesson.
- With younger students, I’ll usually alternate between giving out stars and rewards throughout the lesson. With older students, I’ll do a reward and stars at the end of class; or, I’ll just do stars at the end with no reward!
- If you learn more about a student, you can create a reward based on something they like the next time you have them.
I always use a reward with a student the first time I have them. If they’re an older student and really don’t seem to care about it, I’ll usually just do away with a reward system altogether next time I have them. I went to a workshop for VIP Kid Level 4 students and the leader said that he does this, so I started doing it, too! I think the parents would rather me just extend with the lesson, and so would I honestly (think about when you were 13 or 14! Wouldn’t you have been annoyed, too, if you were given a stupid paper ice cream scoop?). If they’re older but seem to really enjoy getting a reward, then of course, I’ll continue to do so!
I really like to use rewards that can teach the kids something, in addition to me learning more about them, too!
I try to relate rewards to the lesson when I can, but sometimes I just don’t! As long as the students are happy and learning, so am I.Keep in mind I don’t teach Level 1. I use these reward systems for Level 2-4.
Since I’m a digital nomad and move around a lot, all these rewards are quite small and double as props, too! You can use them in regular lessons, too.
Pssst: If you want to teach and travel, too, you can read about how I became a digital nomad!
Here’s a list of the reward systems that I use:
I thought this was worth mentioning – I cut out a gold star about the size of my hand. This has been so helpful in teaching the word “star” to trials and younger students.
1. SPORTS REWARDI usually start with the basketball, then do soccer (and most students call it “football” so I show them what we call “football” in America), badminton, and last put the goggles on my face. This always entertains the younger students and gets a chuckle from the older students. It’s also fun to teach them the word “goggles” as most of them don’t know it yet!
For younger students I keep it simple and just say each sport’s name. For older students, I’ll ask if they like it, how often they play, who they play with, etc. depending on how much time I have to extend.
2. AMERICAN DOLLAR REWARDOlder students typically enjoy this one! Most younger students don’t understand the concept of “money” so I don’t usually use this reward with them.
I introduce it by holding up the American flag and explain that it’s American money. Then I give them dollars throughout class, and at the end, 5 dollars! Some of them get really excited about the 5 dollars, so I’d suggest including a bigger bill like this if you can.
At the end of class, I’ll usually ask them to count their money and ask what they might buy with it. If they don’t know “buy” I try to explain it, or I just ask, “What do you want?” Then explain they can use the money to get it.
You can honestly do this with any country’s money. I always start with the American Dollar reward, and if they seem really excited about it, I’ll introduce a new money system in another class with them. I’ve used British pounds, Euros, Bulgarian Lev, and Thai Baht!
3. ANIMAL PUPPETS REWARDI love my animal puppets! I usually only do this with younger students, or with older students if it relates to the lesson. I pretty much just hold up each puppet and ask if they know the name.
If not, I tell them the animal and show the corresponding flashcard. These animal puppets didn’t come with matching flashcards, but the deck of animal cards I bought just happened to have them!
If they do know the name, I’ll extend by asking if they like it, the colors, or what it might do (for example, rabbits and frogs hop/jump).I can usually separate this reward out into two classes, so I’ll use half the animals one class, and the other half the next!
4. FRUIT REWARDThis one’s fun since you can use common fruits with the younger students and uncommon fruits with the older ones! This way they’re learning about different things they eat.
I also like to ask if they like eating that fruit, and then at the end of class, ask what their favorite is.
5. ANIMAL FLASHCARDS REWARDThese animal flashcards are super useful because you can pretty much adapt them to any lesson. It’s fun to teach students the names of different animals, too. I usually do about 5-6 cards per class.
My only gripe is that they don’t have a shark card. I feel like sharks are such a common animal, so I really don’t know why it’s not in there haha.
At the end of class, I’ll usually just ask the student about their favorite animal, and if they’re advanced enough, will ask why.
6. BIRTHDAY REWARDI love this one either during the birthday lesson (actually I think there might be a few lessons about birthdays?) orrrr if the student’s birthday is approaching.
At the end of class I’ll even light the candle and sing the “Happy Birthday” song depending on the age and rapport I have with the student.
7. PACK A SUITCASE REWARDThis is great for any lesson involving travel. You can draw a suitcase, tape it to the wall, and add tape to the back of the clothing items. Then, you can stick each into the suitcase as the lesson progresses!
I like to let the student choose the item if they’re older/more advanced (I’ll ask, “Do you want to add shorts or a dress to your suitcase?).
If they’re younger, I usually just choose for them and either teach them the name of the clothing article, or ask if they remember if we’re learning it during the lesson.
8. TRAVEL REWARDThere are some lessons involving travel, so this is a good reward to use with them. It’s especially fun for students who seem really interested in seeing other places!
I printed all of these pictures out from the internet and laminated them. I don’t have a laminating machine, but my old workplace did 😉
9. DRAWING REWARD
Some students seem to really enjoy telling me different things to draw. Your whiteboard is your best friend for this one!
I’ll try and relate it to the lesson somehow, either by color, size, or something else. For example, if we’re learning colors, I’ll ask, “Do you want a red cat or a blue cat?” If we’re learning sizes, I’ll ask, “Do you want a big cat or a small cat?” If they know both, I’ll combine it!
I have fun with it, too, and try to make them laugh. Just go with it so you’re both having fun!
10. GIFS/IMAGES AS REWARDS
Sometimes I’ll show students images or gifs relating to the lesson, or just something fun, like people dancing. Or, if I know they’re interested in a certain topic, like transformers or Hello Kitty, I’ll show them images of that.
11. TIC TAC TOE AS A REWARD
My older students LOVE Tic Tac Toe. I used to draw it on my whiteboard and have a student make a move throughout the class, but now I just use the last blank slide and draw it there and play a few games in the middle of class, and again at the end. Much easier!
If you don’t want to make your own, you can always check out See Nic Wander’s Teach & Wander Shop. She sells really beautiful printable rewards!
You can also try using Google Slides – I haven’t tried it myself, but people seem to love it! It’s an online database with a ton of different digital rewards that you can show your student from your phone.
LOVE IT? PIN IT!