Show appreciation for consistently good classroom behavior using ideas from this list of whole class rewards.
No matter their preferences, you’re sure to find a good-fit reward for your elementary students’ tastes.
Related: See our full list of fun and kid-friendly rewards that recognize and celebrate individual learners.
Whole Class Rewards (Free)
- Administrator Shout Out – The principal drops by the classroom to give a personal congratulations to students. To make the moment more special, keep the visit a secret from students and/or have the administrator share the message during morning announcements via the school’s intercom.
- Brain Breaks – While brain breaks are normal components of any teaching day, take a couple of your most popular ones to use as whole class rewards. Use this list of brain breaks to brainstorm ideas.
- Class Spirit Week – Rev up school spirit! With students, select a week and pick a theme for each day. Everyone dresses according to each day’s theme. Suggested themes include popular authors, favorite read alouds, math concepts, and book characters. The more creative, the better.
- Coloring Pages – Crayons aren’t only for preschool and lower elementary-aged kids! There’s no shortage of fun coloring pages online that you can print. They’re not only enjoyable for students but arguably therapeutic.
- Comfy Day – This is the time to be ultra comfortable. Students can wear pajamas and bring to school a pillow plus blanket, if desired. Stuffed animals are also welcomed in addition to anything else that will make the child’s day the most comfortable (within reason, of course).
- Crazy Hats – For a day, students wear a crazy hat to school. To make the event even more interesting, give each child a minute or two to share something unique about their hat.
- Cup Game – Reminiscent of summer camp days, the “Cup Game” highlights students’ rhythmic and hand skills. Fortunately, learning the steps is part of its fun! For starters, have students view these beginner-friendly Cup Game instructions. Then weave in more fun practice sessions by following along with this kid-friendly Cups Game video. Ideally, you’ll revisit this whole class reward throughout the year, as students need several opportunities to improve. However, each time will be super exciting!
- Dance Party – Choose an appropriate playlist, crank up the music, and let them move to the grooves while working.
- Eat Lunch in Classroom or Outdoors – Play music, watch a video, and/or allow students to freely socialize during this time.
- Electronics Day – Students bring to class for a day their favorite technological devices.
- Extra Computer Lab Time – Schedule a few 30-minute slots in the computer lab throughout the semester. Compile a list of fun plus kid-friendly websites and apps students can access when it’s time to partake in this special reward.
- Extra Points – Upper elementary teachers may appreciate this whole class reward. Gift learners with extra points to count towards a final grade.
- Flashlight Frenzy – Get a hold of a decent flashlight or two, turn off the classroom lights, and then zig-zag the light around the room. Kids absolutely love it!
- Free Seat Day – Permit students to sit wherever they want in the classroom, whether it be on the carpet, centers station, kidney table, bare floor, or at a friend’s desk.
- Free Time – Give students about 30 minutes to an hour of class time to do whatever they wish. They must keep their voices at appropriate levels and remain respectful of others.
- Fun Hair Day – Students wear their hair in a crazy style. Alternatively, choose a decades theme (e.g. 50s hair or 70s hair), and kids wear their hair in a fashion from that era.
- Indoor Recess – Even if it’s sunny outside, permit students to stay indoors to play their favorite games, draw, chat, etc.
- Lower Grade Mentors – Similar to reading buddies, mentoring showcases students’ “expertise” by allowing them to teach another student (ideally a younger child) a specific skill, strategy, or project. You choose the theme or subject.
- Mix and Match Socks – Encourage your elementary kids to wear crazy and/or mix-matched socks for the day.
- Movie – Show a class-selected, age-appropriate film. Make an entire day out of it if you wish.
- Musical Chairs – Who doesn’t love this classic, captivating game? Turn on some music, and let the competition begin. The last man sitting gets bragging rights. 🙂
- No Homework– Students receive no homework for a week or for whichever time you designate.
- No Uniform – If you work at a school where student uniforms are required, make “casual wear day” one of your whole class rewards. Be sure to first seek approval from administration.
- Origami – This is one of those whole class rewards that captivate and challenge even your quick learners. Use this guide to help kids create easy origami.
- Pajama Day – Students wear their PJ’s to school. They can also bring along a blanket and pillow in order to work comfortably at their desks or on the carpet.
- Paper Airplane Competition – Model for students how to create a paper airplane. Then head outdoors, and have everyone stand at a designated starting point. On your signal, the children throw their airplanes forward. The owner of the plane that flies farthest wins bragging rights. Repeat the competition as many times as you’d like.
- Puzzles – Find one of those 500 or 1,000-piece puzzles, and challenge students to work as a team to complete it within a certain amount of time.
- Reading or Math Buddies – Establish a reading or math buddy system with a class from a younger grade. Each child from the lower grade’s class pairs with one of your learners. On designated days, your students will read a book or complete a simple and fun math activity with their buddies.
- Reader’s Theater Play – Add a little drama to your list of whole class rewards by having your students “act out” these short plays in front of their grade-level peers or parents.
- Show and Tell – Everyone brings to school a favorite treasure and receives the spotlight for 10 to 15 minutes, sharing with classmates fun facts or an interesting story about his/her item.
- Special Guest – Invite a parent, community member, the principal, or a special staff member to your class to read a book, create a craft, perform an experiment, or share a project with students.
Rewards for the Entire Class (Small Investment)
- Arts and Crafts Day – Consider keeping this activity as one of your staple whole class rewards because it’s so much fun for kids! For supplies, gather what objects you already possess. Then round up recycled materials, make requests via a classroom wish-list, and/or purchase a few inexpensive items yourself such as glue, construction paper, glitter, Popsicle sticks, etc. Now guide students in completing a fun project. A great beginner craft is simple mosaic design art.
- Board Games – Monopoly™, Sorry™, Candy Land™, and Connect 4™ are just a few of the board games that your students may enjoy. For best results, model a few times how to play each selected game. Doing so helps elementary-aged kids become more successful at playing the games independently.
- Community Service – One of the most selfless whole class rewards, this option requires an investment of time and heart. Students choose a local charity that they’d like to support by raising money. It’s vital that parent volunteers assist with this task. However, kids love it!
- Field Trip – While you may already have a pre-set number of academic field trips etched into the school calendar, add an extra special one as a whole class reward. Let students choose the place.
- Glow Dancing – This is one of the most exciting whole class rewards! Purchase from the Oriental Trading Company or your local dollar store glow-in-the-dark bracelets, sticks, necklaces, etc. Grab enough for each student. (You might want to add these items to your parent wish-list). Play some kid-friendly music, turn off the lights, and let them have fun dancing plus shaking their items to the beat.
More Rewards That Cost Very Little
- Living Museum – Though this whole class reward requires a significant investment, it’s well worth it because kids (and their parents) love it! Choose a topic the class is currently discussing. See the gist of how to do a living museum.
- Open Mic – Get a hold of one of those kid microphones. Then schedule one (1) day in the week for students to showcase a special song, dance, poem, or other unique talent. Those who choose not to participate will still be entertained by watching their peers.
- Prize Box – Make a visit to your local dollar store, and grab a bunch of little rewards such as erasers, pencils…any small trinkets your students might enjoy. Store the items into a plastic bin or box, and have each child draw a prize.
- Science/STEM Mania – Plan a super cool science or STEM- related experiment for the kids…one that’s a bit more over the top compared to the usual ones performed in class. Ask parent volunteers to help out.
- Slime – I guarantee gooey slime will be one of your most popular whole class rewards. You might want to leave this reward for the end of day because it can get a little messy. Take a look at how to make kid-friendly slime for very little money.
- Trinkets – Quirky prizes are usually a hit with kids. Navigate to the Oriental Trading Company’s website, and you’ll find a treasure-trove of relatively inexpensive items that make fantastic whole class rewards.
- Water Fight – During hot weather, this whole class reward is refreshing just as much as it is fun. With the help of a parent volunteer, fill a bucket full of water balloons. At the end of the school day, distribute 1 to 2 balloons to each child and watch the craziness unleash.
Outdoor Whole Class Rewards
- Blowing Bubbles – Purchase an inexpensive bottle of bubbles soap or make your own batch of bubbles soap. Afterwards, head outside, and blow bubbles while students run through them. Even better, guide students in making a bubble wand (see above link). Then have them blow their own bubbles!
- Colored Chalk at Recess – Grab a few boxes of thick, multi-colored chalk. Then head outdoors to enjoy watching your little ones draw and dabble to their hearts’ delight.
- Duck Duck Goose – If you’re looking to incorporate physical activity among your whole class rewards, this classic childhood game is a perfect fit!
- Extra Recess – What kid doesn’t enjoy an extra 10 or 15 minutes of time to run around and socialize outside?
- Kickball – Play a round or two of this exciting, team-building childhood game.
- Outdoor Reading – Move outside to a grassy area or under a shady tree. Students read independently or with a partner.
- Soccer with the Teacher – For the first half of recess, you play a game of soccer (or another sport) with students.
- Work Outside – Spend one or two class periods teaching and learning under a shady tree or in a sunny spot. The fresh air will do good.
Edible Rewards for the Entire Class
- Chew Gum – For the entire day, learners chew gum during class time.
- Cookie Party – Ask a parent volunteer to bring cookies for your little ones to enjoy. If you have the desire and time, consider baking the treats yourself.
- Cooking – Create a simple, no-bake recipe that students will enjoy. Think “ants on a log”, fruit kabobs, ice cream sandwiches, etc. Consider asking a parent volunteer to help out.
- Healthy Snacks – Students eat healthy snacks during class time. If you have the time and space, place a table of healthy snacks in a corner of the classroom where students can visit throughout the day to grab something quick.
- Ice Cream Party – Sweeten your fun rewards for students by grabbing a bag or two of those 3-ounce cups of ice cream.
- Jelly Belly BeanBoozled™- As a class, taste-test “special” jelly bellies to discover which are delicious vs. gross! Pick up a pack of these candies at a local store, or step things up a notch by getting a hold of the actual BeanBoozled™ game.
- Popcorn Party – Enjoy buttery or other flavored popcorn treats while working.
- Unique Candy – Though we should definitely encourage students to consume sugar sparingly, this whole class reward is a treat to experience every now and then. Share with students a Pixy Stix, Fruit Roll-Up, Ring Pop (a hit with the girls!), or any other fun candy.
The following whole class rewards fit well in both physical and digital learning settings.
- Kahoot – If your school already has a subscription to this online resource, then consider using parts of it as a whole class reward. Choose an engaging, high-energy activity from the app that your students will enjoy.
- Karaoke – Head to YouTube. Search for kid-friendly karaoke songs. Now watch your students happily stretch their vocal cords.
- No Homework – Surprise your elementary kids with a day or even a week of no homework.
- Online Jeopardy – For distance learning whole class rewards, this is one of your best options as it’s free and you have access to a variety of ready-to-use templates. Let your students choose the topic.
- Open-Book Quiz or Test – Shock your students by announcing an open-book test or quiz as a reward option!
- Social Media Shout Out – If your school has an active social media presence, reach out to the person in charge of managing it. Request a “shout out” (e.g tweet, Facebook post, Instagram story) recognizing your students’ accomplishments.
Wrapping Up: Whole Class Rewards They’ll Love
You’re all set to highlight the accomplishments of your elementary students with the help of this healthy list of whole class rewards.
There’s a prize to fit every personality and preference.
Do you have additional whole class reward ideas to share?
Tell us about them in the comments below.