Diary of a Not So Wimpy Teacher: Brag Tags in the Classroom

Brag Tags in the Classroom


Brag tags are a simple and fun way to reward and motivate students to meet academic, character and behavior goals! Brag tags give me the opportunity to help my kids to feel proud rather than rewarding them with junk from a treasure box. I use them to focus on improvement rather than grades in our classroom.




My students must earn the tags. They are not just given out (with the exception of the first day of school tag). I started by deciding which tags I wanted to offer. I chose some brag tags that students would know exactly what they must do in order to earn the tag such as math facts, reading hours and sight words. I also like to have some character trait and positive behavior tags on hand. I award these based on observations. There is no one magic way to earn it. Even my strugglers can earn these tags because I base them on improvement. 


The first thing that we do on Friday mornings is our brag tag ceremony. Any child who has earned a tag during that week will receive the tag in front of the class on Friday morning. The students will get called up to accept their tag while the class cheers for them. We celebrate their improvement and success together! My students find it motivating and I love how they root for one another when they know someone has been working extra hard to meet their goal.


Not every student receives a tag every week. That is ok! Some goals take longer to achieve. We do not compete with one another, but rather focus on our growth as a team. 

After the ceremony is complete, every student wears their tags for the rest of the day. I want them to feel proud of the work they have done that has allowed them to meet their goals. My kiddos were so excited when the principal came into our classroom on a Friday. They loved showing off their tags! 


I often get asked how I keep track of who has earned which tag. The answer is- I don't! I mean I have spreadsheets for math facts and reading hours, but the other tags are given when I see that the student has made growth. It's ok if they get the same tag more than once! If I notice that a student has really made significant progress towards their goals, I will jot a note to myself to give them a special tag on the following Friday. I am all about keeping it simple.


My students only wear their necklaces on Fridays. This is our brag tag day! The rest of the week, we need somewhere to safely keep their necklaces. Many teachers make a bulletin board and have thumbtacks to hang the necklaces on. I love this idea because the tags are on display all week and are a good reminder to students of the goals they are working towards. This cute display comes from Third Grade in the First State.


However, do to the fact that I share a VERY small classroom, we do not have wall space for 55 student necklaces to be displayed. Our students keep their necklaces in their pencil boxes in their desk. It is not as pretty, but just as effective and efficient. Students still see their necklaces every time they get materials out of their pencil box. I also think this is a great solution for teachers who are departmentalized. 


You will ned to get a necklace for every student. I found that the cheapest way to do this is to get rolls of the chain from Hobby Lobby. Use wire cutters to cut 24 inch length chains. The roll of chain includes the fasteners.  I think you can also find the chains on Amazon and in other craft stores. 

Preparing brag tags is fairly simple. I print my tags on cardstock and then laminate them. 


I cut the tags out and punch a hole in the top of the tag. I use my crop-a-idle (a fancy punch I got from Stamping' Up! years ago) just because it punches so much easier. A regular hole punch works, but you will have to use more muscles. Cutting and punching brag tags is a simple job that you could send home for parent volunteers! Or use the summer to prep the tags you will use for the entire year and then you won't have to think about it again!


Brag tags can be stored in numerous ways. Some teachers use tool boxes with small drawers. I didn't have room for this, so I went searching for the perfect storage. I found this tub at JoAnn's.  I have had other tell me that the same container can ben found at Michaels and Hobby Lobby.


It's perfect! The compartments inside are the perfect size for my tags and I can fit a ton of tags in  it because it has compartments on the top and then you close the lid, flip the container over and there is another set of compartments! Now all of our tags are organized and easy to see in a case that is very portable.


Would you like to see a video about how I use brag tags in the classroom? Click HERE.

Do you teach in the upper grades? Brag tags are for big kids too! Check out THIS blog post!




If you are just getting started with brag tags and need some tags, I have several sets in my store. Just click on the picture.