WHAT IS FIND-A-STAR?

As a new VIPKid teacher, you might be hearing a lot about Find-A-Star. Maybe all this talk has you curious: “What the heck is Find-A-Star? Is Find-A-Star budget-friendly? Is it worth the trouble?” In this post I will outline Find-A-Star basics, as well as several methods for incorporating this reward in your VIPKid classroom (and budget).

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WHAT IS FIND-A-STAR?

As you know, VIPKid teachers are asked to award five digital stars to students throughout each online lesson. Teachers are ALSO encouraged to use a secondary reward system to help keep students engaged. Find-A-Star (FAS) is a secondary reward system that also incorporates the five-star digital reward system of VIPKid. It is a great way to combine the two!

Many teachers enjoy using FAS because it helps streamline the reward process during class. Plus, the fun game element of FAS really does a great job of keeping students of all ages engaged during class! With a few tweaks, I regularly use FAS with my 4- and 5-year-old Level One students. I’ve even had some teenage students choose FAS when given the option!

FIND-A-STAR BASICS

To sum it up, the teacher hides five stars and four “other objects” behind cards for the student to find. The other objects are usually things that are interesting to the student or that go along with the lesson content. (Note: Some teachers use 12 total items but I prefer nine).

The cards that are used to hide the objects are called FAS “covers.” Usually covers are just labeled with numbers, but some teachers create covers with colors, shapes, or even unit vocabulary. The student then chooses which card to look under by saying the number, word, shape, etc.

If a star is hidden behind the chosen cover, the student is then awarded a digital star on the computer. If something else is uncovered, the teacher usually discusses the object briefly with the student to teach new vocabulary and encourage conversation.

That’s it!

This simple game is a fun way to incorporate the primary and secondary reward systems in a VIPKid classroom, but there are MANY ways that teachers have adjusted this game to fit their individual teaching styles and budgets. I’m going to show you the top four options, with pros and cons for each.

OPTION #1 – FIND-A-STAR SHEETS AND COVERS

A very popular way to play FAS is with pre-made sheets, where the stars and objects are already randomly assigned on a piece of paper. All you have to do is download and print a sheet, then use your FAS covers to hide the objects. Each sheet is usually centered around a theme (cats, superheroes, unit vocabulary, etc.)

Creators of these FAS sheets usually provide covers that fit, or they are created to fit a common size of FAS cover.

PROS:

  • Easy to set up and switch out between classes, because it is typically kept on a small magnetic whiteboard that can be kept out of sight until needed.
  • Very few resources needed (magnetic FAS covers, printer, paper, and possibly laminator)
  • TONS of choices online

CONS:

  • Printed images can not be used for much else
  • Unable to reuse multiple times with same student (they will start to memorize where the objects are)
  • Requires a lot of unnecessary printer ink (for example, printing stars multiple times since there are similar stars on every page)

OPTION #2: MAGNETIC FIND-A-STAR

This option is very similar to the option above, but this method uses magnetic props as the objects. These magnetic objects are then stacked behind the FAS covers, since they both use neodymium magnets.

PROS:

  • You can bring the cover and object close to the camera for a dramatic “unveiling.”
  • Props become multi-purpose, because they can also be used as hidden objects for FAS. The elements of this version of FAS can be used for many things.
  • You can use only a few numbers at a time if you want to play FAS with a young kiddo (I do this on a small magnetic whiteboard…video to come).
  • Every class session is a new version of the game because you are able to rearrange the objects behind the covers.
  • You only have to print stars ONCE (I have used the same yellow Dino stars since I started teaching!)

CONS:

  • Your options are limited to the number of laminated, magnetic props that you have in your classroom.
  • If a class runs long, it can be a rush to get your game reset for the next class, especially if you leave your objects on display behind you.

OPTION #3 – DIGITAL FIND-A-STAR

There are many teachers who have gone all-digital with their rewards and they LOVE it! You can play FAS using Google Slides or an app like ProCreate. Many teachers even incorporate digital FAS with Manycam so that they can show it directly on the screen rather than holding up a separate device.

PROS:

  • No clutter! Digital rewards keep your classroom streamlined and minimal
  • Great to use when traveling
  • Endless options for objects to hide…some teachers even use animated GIFs behind the covers!
  • SUPER fast to switch up between classes

CONS:

  • Requires a second device (phone or tablet) OR a Manycam-type program
  • If Manycam is used, some people find that it slows down the computer (I can not speak from experience)
  • You are at the mercy of a SECOND mode of technology (and whether or not you remembered to charge your battery before class…haha)
  • Digital rewards are typically less interactive – I have tried digital rewards with my students before and they all just go “Meh…” when I hold it up to the screen. They much prefer watching me be silly with a magnetic prop.

Really, my heart is totally with the digital teachers. I think it would be so budget- and time-friendly! But my students really have not responded well to them when I’ve tried. Maybe it’s me?? Digital teachers: Share your secrets! I’d love to hear them!

OPTION #4: FIND-A-STAR CANISTERS

You have probably seen those adorable FAS canisters, which are spice containers from the dollar store dressed up as FAS covers! (You can also buy similar ones on Amazon here.) Since they are magnetic, they are easy to plop on your background with little treasures and stars hidden inside.

PROS:

  • You can use 2D as well as 3D objects in the canisters.
  • The objects can be reused for other purposes in the classroom.
  • You can bring the canister close to the camera for a dramatic reveal!
  • Easy to modify with fewer canisters for younger students (using a small white board…video coming soon!)

CONS:

  • This is another method that I’ve tried to love, but it takes me too much time to reset between classes (I have not used the spice containers, but something similar)
  • It is harder to keep the objects on display after each reveal. You either have lids stacked somewhere or you have to put the lids back on, which then covers the object.
  • Your options are limited by the number of objects and props that you have in your classroom.
  • The larger containers are $1 each, which can seem steep for some budgets.

IS FIND-A-STAR WORTH IT?

I think that you can’t go wrong with any of the FAS methods I’ve outlined above. It is a great way to incorporate a secondary reward with VIPKid’s star reward system. None of these options are very costly, as long as they fit within your budget!

I have never had a student annoyed or disappointed to play FAS. Now, some of my regulars might get bored with it after a while if I used it EVERY lesson, but I think it’s a great way to switch things up in your classroom for a low cost!

If you didn’t guess from my input above, I use magnetic FAS and I would love to share my fun FAS covers with you! All of the props that I provide for my referrals and email subscribers fit behind my FAS covers so that they can be used as props as well as FAS rewards. Multi-purpose for the win!

Are you a fan of Find-A-Star? Which method do you use? Join (or start) the discussion below!

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