20 Virtual & In-person Classroom Rewards Students Are Loving This Year

20 Virtual & In-person Classroom Rewards Students Are Loving This Year

It’s no secret that a teacher’s goal is to find ways to motivate students intrinsically. On days when we’re feeling generous, we just want to give students a reason to smile. However, socially distant rewards are a new necessity. In previous years, this could mean allowing students to sit next to a friend for the day or eat lunch with the teacher. Popular rewards in the past have been to chew gum for the day or have extra recess time together outside. Fast forward to the Fall of 2020 and much of these classic, loved rewards don’t meet social distance or mask-wearing requirements. 

Here are 20 different individual and whole-class reward ideas that adhere to safety protocols this year!

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20 Fun and Creative Socially Distant Rewards for Students + Free Print Outs!

Individual Socially Distant Rewards

The following ideas could be verbally given to deserving students, but it’s also fun to give them tangible coupons. Grab a free, editable print-out set of coupon ideas HERE. Are you teaching virtually? If so, you could still use most of these ideas! Simply print the Freebie and draw one from a hat during a class meeting

1. Show & Tell

Though this may be more limited this year, students could still bring in photos, a favorite piece of memorabilia, or equipment from a favorite hobby! Tip #1: tell students their item must fit inside their backpack. Tip #2: Instead of passing around items, use a document camera to broadcast items on your smartboard so the class can see without having to share materials.

2. Pick Morning Work Tunes

While students are slowly trickling into classrooms or virtual meets this year, teachers are finding ways to engage students in activities until the entire class arrives. While students work on their morning work, playing positive and/or calming music sets the tone for the day! Allow coupon recipients to choose the tunes one morning. 

3. Choice Time

Determine a time of day that students could skip some work and instead enjoy Choice Time, which could consist of doodling on a whiteboard, reading a favorite book, coloring, or playing an individual game, like solitaire. 

4. Use a Pen for the Day

Grab a pack of fun multicolor pens on Amazon and allow students to either borrow or keep the pen to use for a day! Students LOVE this one. 

5. Drawing Pass

Students of all ages love to get creative with their drawing. Many would love the chance to have extra time to practice their drawing skills. Consider providing a small sketchbook to go along with this reward. Packs of 3 can be found for $1 at the Dollar Tree.

6. Joke Pass

Lighten the mood of the room by giving deserving students a chance to write down school-appropriate jokes to share with the class one day!

7. Share a Talent

Students can either pre-record a talent or share a talent LIVE with the class! Some ideas may include gymnastics tricks, a live look at drawing skills, or singing a song for the class.

8. Choose $1 Scholastic Book

Many teachers receive free books with each Scholastic Book Club order. If you do, you may reward students with coupons that give them the chance to choose one of these free books or maybe a $1 book. You can either let them take it home or keep it in the classroom for everyone to use.

9. Tech Time

If you have technology available to students, extra Tech Time is a popular choice of students. Tip: Pre-approve sites that are allowed during this time.

10. Homework Pass

A classic! This reward is luckily still COVID friendly so we can’t forget about this fan favorite. 

Whole-Class Socially Distant Rewards

Using some of our favorite methods, like filling a bucket, students can still earn whole-class rewards by working together to achieve goals. You may just need to get a little creative so that students remain 6 feet apart or still enjoy the reward through a computer screen.

11. Play a Class Game 

Although games that involve touching may not be allowed, there are plenty of other options. Consider games like Jeopardy, Top 5 Quiz (similar to Family Feud), Kahoot, or Hot Seat. 

12. Craft Time

Plan a special craft for the class! Tip: Think about the current season, holidays coming up, or another special occasion approaching. Check out some fun fall crafts here!

13. Watch a Movie

Another classic that can still be used during the 2020-2021 school year! If your school limits the type of movies allowed, consider watching a National Geographic Kids “movie” on YouTube, or check out this extensive list of school-approved educational shows!

14. Lunch Outside

Kids LOVE to change up the scenery when possible. Doing so during lunch is just that much more special. Consider bringing tape or another type of marker outside with you to ensure students remain 6 feet apart. 

15. Special (Virtual) Guest

Special guests could include mystery readers, author visits (check author websites for special, free virtual opportunities), or a career day! Families would equally love this opportunity to join the class virtually.

16. Classroom Transformation

You could hold a book tasting, a school spirit day, or a publishing party. All of which are so much fun when accompanied with a classroom transformation! This may include streamers, balloons, colorful tablecloths, and new posters. Tip: Keep the transformation a surprise to build extra excitement.

17. Socially Distant Free Time

Extra recess is not totally out of the question this year, but it may look different. Provide partner activities or simple options, like coloring pages, that students could enjoy during their free time even from 6 feet apart from their friends. Some students really just enjoy the extra time to chat!

18. Dress-Up Day

This one is especially fun virtually! Declare one day a special day for dressing up. Students could dress as their favorite celebrity, as a character from a book, or as what they want to be when they grow up. This is a fun spin on the classic PJ day tradition.

19. Change Name for the Day

Students get to choose their name for the day in this silly class reward. In-person, students could create name tags for the day with their new name. Virtually, students could change their Zoom names. Students will be sure to get a laugh out of this one!

20. Virtual Lunch with the Teacher

A student favorite, finding a way to still have lunch with students could be key to some students’ success this year. Even if you’re teaching in-person, you could still tune into a virtual meet with students to enjoy lunch and be able to chat from multiple feet apart. 

Students will be thrilled that they will still be able to earn fun classroom rewards this year, whether that’s individually or as a whole class. Be sure to ask your students if they have any other ideas for socially distant rewards! They probably do.


20 Fun and Creative Socially Distant Rewards for Students + Free Print Outs!


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Jenna Marcal

Veteran Legend

Jenna is a 5th grade teacher in Upstate New York! She loves to cook, dance, and dance while cooking! When she's not taking care of her succulent babies, Jenna can be found grading a stack of papers with one hand and holding a chilled glass of white wine in the other.

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