Winter Reward Idea – Cutting Snowflakes

Are you looking for an easy way to decorate your online ESL classroom? Consider cutting snowflakes as a reward! Your student will have fun choosing the shapes that you cut and will love seeing the final product. As an added bonus, you can keep the snowflakes that you create and tape them around your classroom as a decoration. Two birds, one stone!

Here’s how I do it:

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Around this time last year, I was teaching a Friday night marathon of classes every week.

I would teach Level 1 to Level 6. Sixteen classes, back-to-back.

Rewards could get complicated with this scenario, especially because I prefer tangible rewards.

So on marathon nights, I leaned toward easy rewards that were interesting to multiple age levels. That way, I could use them for as many classes as possible.

On top of that, life was crazy busy. I hadn’t decorated my online ESL classroom for Christmas yet, and knew it would be hard to squeeze it in.

That’s when a lightbulb went off: I could just decorate DURING class!

I decided to fold up a bunch of snowflake templates before class, and then cut them with the students as their rewards during each class (keep scrolling for more details about how I did this). At the end of our 25 minutes, we would take a few seconds and decide where to tape the snowflake on my wall.

BOOM! An easy decoration and a reward that ALL of my students found interesting, no matter the age or level.

Ready to give it a try?


  • Get Ready: Before class, get your paper all folded and ready to cut. (Not sure about snowflake folding? Here’s a great tutorial.)
  • Introduce the reward: For upper levels, you can just explain that you are making a snowflake and they will choose the shapes that you will cut. For lower levels, you can say something like “When you do a good job, you get a shape!”
  • Time to Cut: One at a time, the student can choose a shape, you will cut it out and then show them the shape you removed from the snowflake paper. For lower-level students, you can give them a choice between two shapes. (I always hold up two shape magnets and say “Would you like a rectangle or a triangle?”)
  • The Big Reveal: At the end of class, unfold the snowflake and show off the student’s creation. Let the ooohs and ahhhs commence!
  • Decorate: Tape up the snowflake before your next class and pat your multitasking-self on the back (but ignore the mess you’re creating on the floor)


As always, I love to look for ways to extend conversation with every reward. Here are a few suggestions for increasing student output and exposing students to additional vocabulary:

  • Would you like a pointy edge or a curved edge?
  • Would you like a round center or a pointy center?
  • Would you like a big rectangle or a small rectangle?
  • Does it snow where you live?
  • What do you like to make with snow? (Snowman? Snowballs?)
  • For older kids, you could talk about symmetry with the shapes you cut out. (“If I want to make a heart-shaped hole, what shape should I cut on the fold?”)
  • If you’re a snowflake-cutting ninja, you could have the student spell his/her name and you could cut out the letters!

So there you have it: Cutting snowflakes as an easy reward (and decoration!) for your online ESL classroom.

Have you done this with your students before? Leave me a comment below!

Are you looking for more VIPKid reward ideas? Check out my most popular free printable — Feed Dino!