Tired of remembering to fill in behavior charts? No money in the budget for endless tiny toys and sugary candy for treats? It’s time to look into reward tags!
What are reward tags?
Reward tags (also known as “brag tags”) are simply cards that kids can collect and display. They recognize academic and social achievements in the classroom. Teachers love them because they’re extremely inexpensive to create; all you need is a printer and some card stock! You can laminate them if you want, but it’s certainly not required. They’re also easy to manage. No complicated point systems or charts to track—just give students a tag when they’ve earned it.
Kids love reward tags because they’re fun to collect. And they work for every type of student. Since you can reward a wide variety of behaviors, every kid will find some tags that are easy to earn and others that require a little more work. This means every student can build up a nice collection over time.
Some teachers like to use beads with their reward tags to reward repeat behavior. For instance, if you want to recognize a student for working quietly, but they already have that tag, they could receive a color-coordinated bead to add to their chain instead.
What do kids do with them?
Like Pokemon, kids love to collect these cards. Many will want to have a “complete” collection before the school year ends. Some teachers just have kids collect cards on their own (many are perfectly-sized to fit in library card pockets). Other teachers have kids display them. Here are some ideas to try.
Use chain necklaces
This is probably the most popular way for kids to display their tags. Kids can check out each other’s tags, and wear them for classroom celebrations or as a special reward.
Try loose-leaf binder rings
Use easy-to-open loose-leaf binder rings instead of necklaces to save a little space. Display them on a board, or let kids hang them from the fronts of their desks.
Make a reward tag book
If you’d prefer to keep reward tags a little more private, this is a terrific option. Plus, a book or binder allows kids to record not only the tags they’ve earned but also how they earned them. (Find these book pages on Teachers Pay Teachers here.)
Teaching in a virtual classroom this year? Looking to eliminate some clutter from the classroom? Try digital reward tags! Kids can store these in a special “holder” on Google Slides. Get your set from Performing in Education on Teachers Pay Teachers here.
How do I manage reward tags throughout the year?
When it comes to the reward tags themselves, all you need is a good way to keep them organized and easily accessible. Here are some of the ways teachers organize their tags.
Try a hardware organizer
Pull-out drawers make it easy to find the tags you’re looking for. Learn more from Performing in Education.
Stash them in divided organizers
You can often grab these at the dollar store, so they’re an economical option. These are also perfect if you use beads in addition to tags. Visit Fifth in the Middle to learn more.
Hang them in pocket charts
Pocket charts are ideal for storing tags, as Learning in Wonderland demonstrates. Hang them on a wall in your classroom and kids can see what tags they still need to work towards.
Group them by category, or just go with alphabetical order
Some teachers like to group theirs by categories like academics, behavior, etc. Others prefer straight-up alphabetical order. Use whatever works well for you. Click here to learn how Primarily Speaking does it.
How can kids show them off outside the classroom?
Kids will want to show off their reward tags to parents, friends in other classes, and more. But anytime something leaves your classroom, you run the risk of it never coming back! Here are some ways to share them with minimal risk of losing them.
- Designate one day a month when kids can wear their necklaces around school for the day.
- Take a photo of a student with their newest tags and send it home by text or email.
- Allow kids to take their brag tags home over long holiday breaks, and reward them with a special tag when they remember to bring them back.
- Use virtual reward tags (see above) so kids can log into their Google Classroom account at home to show their family.
What kinds of reward tags should I use?
Oh, the possibilities are endless! What kinds of behaviors do you want to reward in your classroom? Tie tags to academic achievements, like knowing the alphabet or mastering their multiplication facts. Or encourage good social skills, like listening and sharing. Teachers also use reward tags to recognize things like clean desks, behaving for a sub, or handling technology responsibly.
Not sure where to start, or no time to make your own tags? No problem! There are some good free sets available out there. Plus, you’ll find tons of cool options for purchase on sites like Teachers Pay Teachers. Here are some worth trying.
Check out a sample pack
Reward them for learning their letters
Print basic tags on bright paper
Save money on expensive colored ink and print these tags on brightly-hued paper instead! Get them for FREE on Playdough to Plato.
Encourage a growth mindset
Recognize them for good sub behavior
Give students one more reason to be on their best behavior for a substitute teacher. Get these free printable tags from The Proactive Classroom.
Pass out reward tags students can color
How cool are these! They’re a money-saver too, because you can print them in black-and-white. Learn more and buy them from Minds in Bloom.
Make testing time more rewarding
Test time is stress time for most kids. Recognize their efforts with these cute free tags. Grab there here from Lindy du Plessis on Teachers Pay Teachers.
Looking for more easy low-cost ways to reward students? Check out these Ways To Encourage Good Behavior Without Junky Prizes or Sugary Treats.