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Saturday, September 19, 2015

Brag Tag Nuts & Bolts

If you are new to brag tags, I have some nuts and bolts advice that may help you get started.

Ball chain necklaces are my favorite way to adorn my students with brag tags. A lot of teachers use key chains, but I prefer the glow my students emit when they get to wear their brag tag necklaces. Moreover, when we are walking through the halls, the kiddos gather lots of compliments from other teachers, administrators, and support personnel. But the best reinforcement may be the thumbs up other students give them.

A 24 inch necklace should be fine for any elementary student. I have found them for as low as $.50 each on the internet. Some teachers buy the chain by the spool, cutting it to their desired length. I'm not a fan of this as it is labor intensive and time consuming. You also have to buy the connectors separately and add them to the necklaces. It's about time, teachers! And time is precious.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, it is essential that you add each child's name to the necklace. You can do this by giving them a name tag to put on their necklace. It is simply inevitable that one or more necklaces will eventually end up on the floor. The name tag will settle any disputes about ownership.

In the same vein, it is advisable to label the space where the necklaces hang. Many teachers devote a bulletin board to this purpose. As a huge fan of interactive bulletin boards, I am loathe to sacrifice a board to this purpose. Using command hooks, I hang the necklaces under the front board. 

The hooks are labeled with each student's number using a label maker. This allows me to use the hooks for several years without having to redo the display. (Remember, it's about time, teachers!The real estate under the front board is pretty much wasted, so hanging the necklaces there seems like a good use for it. Furthermore, I teach small groups near that area. My proximity prevents students from fondling the necklaces, which are, of course, very attractive to them.  

I do NOT laminate my brag tags. Just printing them and cutting them out is time consuming enough. Rather, I print them on cardstock. So far, they have been sufficiently durable without lamination. I encourage my students to write their names on the back of each tag they earn in case one tears away from the necklace. (Another reason to hang them where they will attract a little less attention.) You can call me Viola Swamp, but I have a strict rule that lost or destroyed tags will not be replaced. Who has time to deal with all that drama???? 

I will, however, supply adhesive reinforcement rings so that students can repair their tags. So, another advantage of not laminating the tags is that students can write their name on the back. Thus any lost tag can be more readily returned to its owner.
We all struggle with printing costs, especially when using color ink. I'm unwilling to avoid all color printing since it adds so much panache to the tags. However, I print a good supply using the gray scale tags and colored cardstock. The children seem equally happy with either type of tag. 

Once again, because it's about time, teachers, I enlist the help of others in cutting out and punching holes in the brag tags.  If I choose to send some home to helpful parents who are willing to donate their time, I always include sharp scissors, a hole punch, and ziplock bags in which to return them.  I have a special canvas bag in which students carry all of the supplies back and forth.  Of course, it is never sent home without first contacting the parent to ensure that this task is suitable to their time constraints. I have also enlisted the help of upper elementary students who may wish to help when they have time, and have had teachers use this as a reward for students who need extra encouragement from their favorite primary teacher.  :)

Finally, you will need a storage system that keeps the brag tags organized and handy. My tags are 1 3/8" x 2" so they just fit in this storage chest (that is intended for nuts and bolts). Again using my handy, dandy label maker, I am labeling each drawer with the tags it contains.   

Do you have any other tips for those considering using brag tags?

The bad news is time flies. The good news is you're the pilot. -- Michael Altshuler