May 12, 2020

10 Reward & Incentive Ideas for Distance Learning

Make distance learning motivating for your students with virtual rewards and incentives!
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Celebrate hard work with your students during distance and virtual learning using these free and low-cost reward ideas!

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Fun still matters! 🎉

One of the biggest tragedies of Covid-19 is the fun that students will not get to have with trusted adults. There is no greater feeling than weeks of hard work capped off with a huge celebration. Whether it’s a field trip, a dance, a House party, or whatever makes your school unique, we all love to have fun with our students.

That hasn’t changed. How many of us have had a Zoom party with our friends? Done a fitness lesson over video? Watched a live concert? As human beings, we love connecting with others. Add that to the list of things that Covid-19 can’t change.

We have to think outside the box about how we create celebrations and rewards for our students’ hard work. We will need to get creative and use digital tools to replicate some of the magic of our in-person live events. We will need to enlist parents, to help bring important celebrations home to students in a meaningful way.

At the end of the day, a big part of what makes a school celebration fun is the opportunity to see trusted adults letting loose and having fun. Students light up to see their Principal with a pie on their face. Or when a favorite teacher attempts a favorite TikTok dance. Our imagination has always been key to celebrating progress in a way that inspires students. That’s still true today.

Let’s look at 10 ideas you and your team can put into practice to make this time as fun and rewarding as possible for students. Rewards with an asterisk (*) have a financial cost – the rest can be done for free or on a low budget:

1. Host a Virtual Party 🎶

This reward can be run for a homeroom, a grade, a house, or an entire school. Plan an agenda that will be fun for students, like:

  • Invite students to wear school or House colors
  • Sing your school song or House chants
  • Fun updates or shoutouts from designated school leaders
  • Do a dance together (Not sure? Ask a student what’s popular!)

Remember – short and sweet is better than an awkward ending. Leave students excited for the next party with a fun, planned agenda.

2. Lunch with Teacher 👋🏼

Technology gives us the amazing opportunity to have a 1:1, or small group, lunch with students. Students can redeem this reward to have lunch with a favorite teacher or school leader over video chat.

  • Use this time to build or maintain your relationship.
  • Learn about how students are spending their time – favorite music, video games, or hobbies.
  • Share age-appropriate updates on how you are adjusting to more time at home.
  • Bonus: If your budget allows, this reward can include food delivered to the student!

3. In-Person Party 🚗

By now, you have probably seen amazing videos of “drive by” birthday parties and distance celebrations. There are many safe options for reconnecting with students face-to-face:

  • Create a caravan of teachers to parade by students’ homes with music, costumes, or just a big smile and wave.
  • Have a distanced visit to a student’s home to create some personal connection.
  • If your team includes a natural performer, you can even create a reward for an in-person song or dance.

4*. Video Game Rewards 🎮

We can’t deny it – video games are part of our students’ lives. Many video games have “bucks” that students can use to redeem new rewards or accessories in the game. Fortnite V-Bucks are one of the most in-demand with students today. You can also ask your students for what games they love.

5*. Food Delivery Gift Cards 🍔

If your community has access to companies like Postmates, UberEats, and Doordash, these companies offer gift cards that can be a great way to reward students with their favorite restaurants during a time that they may have less ability to dine in. If your community has favorite restaurants, bookstores, or toy stores, these are also great opportunities.

6*. Raffle 🎟️

Raffles are a great way to reward students. In a raffle, the more tickets a student buys, the better their chances of winning! Here are things to consider when raffling:

  • Survey students for exciting items. Big ticket items like an iPad Mini or popular headphones can draw student excitement.
  • Consider recruiting support from local businesses to purchase the items.
  • Market your raffle continuously on social media. Encourage teachers to mention the raffle during check-ins and communications with students.
  • When it’s time to raffle the items, make a big deal of it! A great approach is to create a video of drawing the winner so that every student can take part in the suspense.

7*. Creativity Care Package 🎨

This is a stressful time for students, and a care package can give them the tools to release their energy. Think about constructive toys or supplies like puzzles, sidewalk chalk, or cards. Encourage students to share a picture of what they do with their creativity!

8. Social Media Takeover 💁🏽

Invite a student to create content to share on your official school social media! There are endless ways to use this reward – here are just a few ideas:

  • An age-appropriate TikTok challenge.
  • Emcee your virtual party.
  • Provide a student with school announcements; let them create a video that puts their personal spin on it!

9. Virtual Talent Show 🎤

A virtual talent show can be conducted live, or, even better, over social media! Create a hashtag for students and prompts for them to share, like…

  • Sing their favorite song.
  • Perform a dance.
  • Show off a martial arts move.

10. Silly School Leader 😂

This reward is not for the faint-of-heart! With that said, there’s something magical about a trusted adult doing something truly silly for students to enjoy. Here are some of the best versions we’ve seen:

  • Let a student pick a TikTok dance to do in front of the whole school.
  • Let a student pick a wacky haircut or hair color to debut – live!
  • Let a student write a funny (and appropriate!) message to be recorded and shared with the school.

More Tips for Virtual Rewards

Create a process for how rewards will be redeemed using LiveSchool points. For example:

  • Rewards are redeemable every other Friday.
  • Two days before (Wednesday), the Assistant Principal will share an update with the latest rewards options available.
  • One day before (Thursday), students should email their homeroom teacher with their reward selection!

You can determine pricing by reviewing student points balances. You can use student bank account balances to determine appropriate prices 

In LiveSchool, you can…

And of course, plan for the logistics of your reward. A helpful approach: Who? What? When? Where? How? Coordinate with your team for a smooth and engaging experience!

Share Your Ideas!

We'd love to hear from you – how are you maintaining fun and celebration during distance learning? Share your ideas with @whyliveschool!


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