I'm So Excited - The Long Awaited "Brag Tag" Board!

When I first heard about Brag Tags from Image Stuff, I was intrigued. A new, inexpensive classroom management system based on positive recognition? It sounded interesting, but I wasn't sure that I wanted to start a new system in the middle of the school year. As luck would have it though, I happened to win a giveaway for a set of heart-shaped tags back in February. I was amazed by the ease with which I was able to customize my tag. I started poking around Image Stuff's site, thinking of things I could use the tags for. I eventually settled on this design and decided to use it to reward my kiddos for taking Accelerated Reader tests since our school doesn't have an A.R. incentive program.
My students' interest in taking A.R. tests sky-rocketed! I decided to go back to the website and see what other tags there were. Looking around the site, seeing how inexpensive the Brag Tags were, I decided to take a gamble and order some leprechaun tags.
 Now, you need to know that if our school was scored on parental involvement, we would get a big fat ZERO. In a school of 300+ kiddos we are lucky to get a turn out of 5 parents at a meeting. Not surprisingly, this translates into a  lack of participation in homework/projects. When we did the "Disguise a Turkey" project back in November, less than 40% of my class participated. A large majority of my class is extremely inconsistent about doing any type of homework.

Therefore, I wasn't hopeful for much participation in my "Leprechaun Trap" homework project. I figured that my usual suspects would conveniently lose the information packet, a few would give me the "I told my mom but she didn't have time." excuse, and a handful would actually turn something in.

Well, I had ordered those leprechaun tags and shown them to my kiddos, who oohed and ahhed and demanded to know exactly how to get one. Then they went out and DID IT! That's right - even the ones whose parents were too "busy" to help took the initiative, asked to borrow some green construction paper from me and turned something in! In total, 70% of the students turned in a trap - astounding!

Wow...but it couldn't have just been the Brag Tags, right? Maybe the improved participation was just because it was such a high-interest project (my kids love leprechauns). Okay, I decided to test that theory and order some Dr. Seuss tags. No homework project necessary to earn the Brag Tag this time, the kids just had to pick a Dr. Seuss book and read it aloud to the class. I have some very reluctant readers so I figured only a handful would even try to do this one. I showed the kids this Tag and told them how to earn it:
 As it actually turned out, the students who never raise their hands to read aloud were some of the first who volunteered to read that day! I actually had children crying at the end of the day because they hadn't gotten to read aloud yet! I assured them that they could still earn their Brag Tag any time until the end of the year and that dried up the tears.

Of  course, now I was hooked! At this point I had only shown my students the tags, because I didn't have anywhere to store actual necklaces. So, here were my students, taking A.R. tests, turning in projects, and reading aloud for something they didn't even have in their hands yet, they were that motivated just by the idea of getting the Brag Tags!

So I turned to my darling husband and asked him to craft me up some type of board to display my Brag Tag necklaces.  It took quite a while, because of his Army schedule (he had a two week long class right in the middle of working on my board) and also because this baby went through several design changes, mostly because I kept getting new ideas! It went from a small plaque-like board to a bigger, more elaborate display. I love ladybugs, plus I'm known for doing a big Insect/spring unit each year, so I eventually came up with my final design of grass and ladybugs. Here's the board in my living room, before we added the necklaces:

At the top I have hooks to hang the necklaces, and I used a glue gun to add a small insect or flower with a student's name to the front of each one so we can keep track of which necklace belongs to which student. Right now I only have 18 kiddos, but I have enough hooks for 22 just in case!

At one point I despaired of even having enough wall space to hang it in my classroom! Luckily our Oklahoma weather changed, humidity went up and everything started falling off the walls. That's one of the inconveniences of having an Oklahoma classroom - at a certain point in the year, nothing sticks to the walls anymore. Rather than use 236 pieces of tape to rehang a bulletin board display, I decided to yank it all down and display my Brag Tag board instead! It's the perfect place - highly prominent at the front of the room, so everyone can see! Since I had the display ready, that just left the necklaces. Rather than string the tags myself, I gave my students their favorite color beads to string between the Brag Tags they have earned thus far. Now they have true ownership of the necklace! Here is one of my buddies, stringing his tags:

Here is the board, displayed in class with all of the necklaces!

Brag Tag for my students to earn for our Hatching Eggs Unit, one for Dinosaur Week and some for learning addition and subtraction facts. My students are so motivated now! They even begged for some Spelling Brag Tags since we've been doing so well on our spelling tests lately! I'm thinking of a cute bee tag for that one! I am going to try to get a school-wide Brag Tag program going for next year - but at the very least, it will be part of the classroom management plan in my classroom!

In other news, I'm attending a wedding next week and have to prepare for a week-long substitute! Ack! A whole week of lessons to prepare! The worst part is that I won't know if I'll have one sub for the whole week or a series of different people. Any advice for me either way? I've never been out this long!

Just a quick edit to add that my Brag Tags come from Image Stuff which is a great company that stands behind their products!

12 Rustle Up A Response!:

Erika said... Reply to comment

That is so awesome! You and your husband did a great job together. (It isn't humid here in MT but our stuff starts to fall down about this time of year. I always thought it was God's way of telling me it was about time to call it a year!)
Have fun at the wedding (once you get the sub plans done that is!)

2B Honey Bunch
The Best Endings
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Elizabeth said... Reply to comment

Oh my goodness...that is the cutest thing I've seen all week! Your husband is so talented :)

Out all week? Wow. Have fun at the wedding!

Fun in Room 4B

Mary said... Reply to comment

WOW! How expensive is this? I know it may be worth it because it works so well, but how much do you have to pay?
I am totally interested!

Sharing Kindergarten

Cupcake said... Reply to comment

Love this Brag Tag idea! Anything to get the kids/parents involved and keep them motivated :)
A Cupcake for the Teacher

Jennifer K. said... Reply to comment

Hey Mary, you can get all sorts of teacher packs, some for motivation, attendance, behavior etc. The price for those varies according to how many different designs in the pack. For individual tags like the ones I've gotten it's just 33-40 cents per tag!

Jennifer @ Herding Kats In Kindergarten

EnRiching Kinders said... Reply to comment

I love the brag tag idea. I am going to look into that for next year.
I use to have the same problem with stuff falling off the wall, here in Virginia. Then I discovered that it all depends on how you put the tape on.


Jennifer said... Reply to comment

Love it! I so want to get some for my class!
Rowdy in First Grade

Kelly said... Reply to comment

This is really cute and fun! Great idea!

Kindergarten Kel

Corinna said... Reply to comment

How cute is that!! I want to earn some brag tags myself:) I love the display board!!

Surfin' Through Second

School Sparks Renee said... Reply to comment

Wow! What a great way to excite and reward children. Love it! Renee

Anonymous said... Reply to comment

We at imagestuff.com are HONORED and THRILLED with your support. The board is AMAZING! Nothing can please us more than hearing how our BragTags™ motivate students!

Jennifer Steinacher said... Reply to comment

Hi there!
I was reading your post about things falling off of the walls and thought I would share our 'new-found' cure! We hot-glue our items to the wall. It works on EVERYTHING- bricks, windows, plaster, many layers of paint, etc. It also comes off when you want it to- sometimes have to pick an edge to get it going but- it holds up! Especially great for Alphabet lines and Number lines that you want to keep up (high up) all year- and then some! It even works on fabric! I would recommend laminating the product first as then you can reuse it the following year.
Thanks for all your fun posts!