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Student Recognition: 5 Ideas for Celebrating Students + Free Template

Celebrating student success is crucial in fostering motivation, self-esteem, and a positive learning environment. Of course, we celebrate students daily with simple statements such as “That is awesome!” or “I love how hard you tried!” Or maybe you even use Lucky Stamps to recognize his/her work!

But more than the day-to-day accolades {whether big or small!} we give, it’s also important to take time throughout the year and celebrate success on a grander level with direct student recognition!

easy awards to recognize students in the elementary classroom | Lucky Learning with Molly Lynch

Keep reading to learn more about some easy ideas to celebrate students in your classroom and help them feel recognized and special!

Here’s a quick overview of fun ways to recognize students:

  1. Medals
  2. Character Awards
  3. Photo Books
  4. Peer Awards
  5. Student Shoutouts

Let’s look at each one below. 👇

Personalized Student Recognition Ideas


There are many different ways to honor our students for being uniquely them. From year to year, I choose from two different awards I’ve created to share with my students.

These editable medals make the kids feel pretty special! I print out the awards and go through my class list to choose the perfect medal for each child. {Pro tip: to help me remember, I write his/her name on the back of the medal}

fun editable medals for student appreciation and awards | Lucky Learning with Molly Lynch

There’s something for everyone – from a child who is a special artist to someone who can’t get enough knowledge about animals!

fantastic friends and perfect penmanship recognition medals | Lucky Learning with Molly Lynch

To award the students, we sit in a circle and I give a little speech about the child before I hand it out. For example, I may say, “This friend always has a smile on her face and is willing to pitch in to help out everyone around her! I know I can count on her to tell me a joke every day. The award for Sunshine Student goes to…Ciara!” The other students give a drumroll just before I announce the honoree. They get so excited for not only themselves but also for what their friends receive as well.

The pack includes 36 pre-made versions but there’s also an editable file so you can slightly mix up the wording, if you choose.

Character Awards

These awards focus more on recognizing life skills than a specific skill of a child. I tend to use these awards more for a monthly recognition for a few students each month. However, they can definitely be used anytime of year to celebrate your entire class.

character awards certificates used in a 1st grade classroom | Lucky Learning with Molly Lynch

You can read even more about how and when I use these awards in this blog post.

respectful role model student recognition printout | Lucky Learning with Molly Lynch

This pack includes 25 awards plus an editable file to change up or add extra awards.

Photo Books

My son’s magical preschool teacher Mr. Vince created the best keepsake for the year. Over the year he was in his class {12 months, not 9 that we have!} he took pictures of random days, field trips, art projects, and more and would send them to CVS to get printed from time to time. He slipped the photos into an inexpensive photo book from the Dollar Tree.

student photo book with a bear themed cover | Lucky Learning with Molly Lynch

On his last day of class, Mr. Vince gave Luke this treasure of photos that spanned the entire year 😭 It was such a special gift that we will have forever. He captured the unexpected moments, as well as some fun candid shots of Luke and his classmates. There were so many photos that we also got a stack of photos that didn’t fit in the book!

photo of a student helping another in the classroom | Lucky Learning with Molly Lynch

Now, keep in mind that we can’t always do something as elaborate for a class full of 20+ kids. But if you love taking pictures, are organized, and can stay on top of the photos, then I know this will be an incredible gift to give your students {and their parents!} at the end of the year.

Peer Awards to Celebrate Students

This is not like your high school yearbook where you vote on things {hello, Best Hair or Most Likely to Work at the White House} but rather a way for students to recognize the good qualities they see in each other.

To make this simple, I’d suggest pairing up students beforehand and discussing as a class the type of “awards” that students may gift each other. Generate a list of ideas such as great artist, hard worker, fabulous friend, etc.

peer awards are a great way for students to recognize each other's success and strengths | Lucky Learning with Molly Lynch

Students can then think about what is best about his/her classmates and complete the award. Grab the free templates below! You’ll be able to edit these templates for your own class right in Canva.

Student Shoutouts Bulletin Board Idea for Student Recognition

If you have some extra wall space in your classroom, turn it into a Student Shoutout board! This is simple to set up but will have a huge impact on your students!

Gather some post-it notes or colored paper and place these supplies along with a pencil or pen just in front of the bulletin board.

Invite your students to write down something they appreciated from a classmate {or even you!} and hang it on the wall.

The bulletin board is motivating and will encourage students to continue to get “caught” doing something good!

student shoutouts bulletin board idea | Lucky Learning with Molly Lynch

Student Recognition for Primary Classrooms Recap

Celebrating students’ achievements and successes is vital to creating a positive, motivating classroom environment. Whether through personalized medals, character awards, photo books, peer recognition, or a shoutout bulletin board, intentionally honoring your students can go a long way.

The ideas shared in this article provide both simple, low-cost options as well as more elaborate keepsakes to make your students feel special.

Implementing student recognition strategies throughout the year will foster their self-esteem, motivation, and love for learning.

Looking for even more unique ways to celebrate your students? Check out this blog post!

6 ways to build up your students | Lucky Learning with Molly Lynch

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