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Positive reinforcement is a big deal in my classroom. Although I would love for my students to already be intrinsically motivated to do well, I know realistically that kids do well when they set goals and are rewarded for meeting those goals. Not only do rewards help me recognize the unique accomplishments and talents of individual students, but they allow us to practice celebrating each other’s accomplishments.
I used to have a treasure box filled with junky toys, chips, and candy. Not only was I going broke replenishing everything, but the rewards were pretty meaningless. The toys ended up broken and forgotten in a couple of minutes. After a couple of years of dreading using my treasure box, I had enough. That’s when I started recognizing students each week during our Friday “morning meeting” for special things they had done that week. I used buttons that said things like “wow!” and “great job!” This was a great start, but after a while I decided I wanted something that recognized their accomplishments more specifically.
That’s when I started using reward tags, which are also often called “brag tags”! I got the idea from a friend that was a first grade teacher and modified it for my older students.
Not only did I find that these tags meant a lot more to students, but I saved A LOT of money making these awesome tags on a budget!
Old Budget (junk toys & food rewards): $150-$200/year
New budget (reward tags): $22/year (lamination and ink are provided at my school)
Prices often change on Amazon, but they should be pretty close!
- Necklaces for each student (50 for around $13 here)
- 1/4″ 1-hole punch ($2.49 here)
- Craft Organizer ($5.99 here, as shown in picture below)
- Optional: Laminating sheets (box of 50 for $14.99 here) – most teachers have access to a laminator, but this is the best deal if you have to laminate yourself!
- Optional: Back to school brag tags (free)
- Optional: Premade customizable brag tags (Academic Tags)
What are reward tags and how do I start?
Reward tags are laminated tags that are hole-punched to hang on a necklace. The tags are given to students for many different accomplishments and can be customized for your classroom!
I start the year by giving students their own necklace with their first tag- the Back to School tag [free download here]. We talk about the different ways to earn tags throughout the year and I show them pictures of “completed” necklaces from last year. They get really excited when they see an example of one FULL of tags!
How do I use reward tags as an effective classroom management strategy?
Reward tags can be used to:
- Promote positive behavior
- Motivate students to meet goals
- Encourage students to work harder and study to score higher on tests and assignments
- and more!
Implementation is very important with reward tags. It’s important that all students are recognized at least once the first month of school, especially those that struggle with motivation or behavior.
Every Friday, I hold “morning meeting” in my class. I use this time for announcements from student council, discussing next week’s important events, and lastly, reward tags! I recognize anywhere from 5-10 students each time, depending on what we’ve been doing in class that week. When they get their tag, we all clap and make a big deal about it. They then go get their necklace (which hangs on a bulletin board so they don’t lose it!) and add proudly add their tag. Morning meeting takes about 15 minutes and it’s their favorite time of the week, hands down!
Reward Tag Ideas
You can create reward tags for anything you want to celebrate!
I use reward tags mostly for:
- Academic achievements
- Scoring 100% on a unit test
- Mastering a specific skill (like adding decimals)
- Effort/improvement in a specific subject
- Turning in homework completed and on time
- High score or excellent effort on big projects
- Report card grades
- Attitude & Behavior
- Hard worker
- Student of the month
- Star student
- Student of the week
- Role model
- Met behavior goal
- Improved behavior
- Positive attitude
- Subject Area
- Social Studies
- Morning Work
- Independent Work
- Group Work
- Physical Education
I also create reward tags for specials and resource classes. I like my students to know that their effort and behavior while in other classrooms is equally important as it is in mine.
I use this extra large craft organizer to store my ready-made tags. I have my helpers do all the cutting and hole-punching, then I just bring this case and my list of students to our morning meeting on Fridays!
I store extra necklaces flat in the bottom section in case I get a new student. Since I buy a pack of 50 at the beginning of the year, I never run out!
Here are some other storage ideas for your brag tags. Thank you Stephanie for sharing these awesome ideas and pictures from your classroom!
I can’t express how much my students love these reward tags. To me, it’s a very small investment of time and money for a huge pay-off of student motivation! I can tell that students in my class are confident kids because every single one of them is getting positive recognition in front of the class!