Let’s face it, learning 26 letters and their sounds can be a daunting task for young children. Even though at 4-6 years old they are in the middle of a language explosion and their minds are like sponges, it is still a lot to learn and process. This is why I love to reward and encourage them each and every step of the way and make it a positive learning experience.
We all like receiving appreciation for our efforts, especially from someone we respect. Young children are no different. They love receiving acknowledgment and praise from the teacher. Since there are a lot of letters that they are expected to learn, I like rewarding them for their efforts after they master each letter of the alphabet with a unique reward tag. Receiving something special to celebrate their efforts (especially if they have been struggling) can energize their desire to learn more, rekindle enthusiasm about learning the alphabet, and restore their confidence and commitment.
Unique Reward Tag for Each Letter
I made the reward tags unique so that students receive something different and special for each letter learned that represents the letter and can be kept as a keepsake or reference. Each reward tag has a praise word that begins with the alphabet letter along with a ‘You learned letter ____!” cheer. Each tag also has pictures of objects or animals which begin with the letter.
My students loved receiving these reward tags and couldn’t wait to see what each one said. In fact, they would oftentimes try to guess what the praise word and pictures were going to be prior to receiving their tag (which was a great review of the letter sound!). They were a great incentive that both celebrated and encouraged their mastery of the alphabet.
I have distributed these reward tags several different ways over the years. There is really no right or wrong way to use them – it totally depends on your personal preference and your students. They are very versatile and can easily fit any teaching style. There are several ways to have students keep track and store their tags.
Necklaces or Binder Rings
Since reward tags have become “all the rage” in the past 5 years or so, most recently I have used reward tag necklaces to store student tags. The ball chain necklaces that resemble dog tag necklaces are what I use. I found mine on Amazon, though I have been told that you can also find them at Oriental Trading and some craft stores. I use the 24 inch length for my pre-k and kindergarten students. When students master a letter they receive the appropriate tag and add it to their necklace. After they have received all 26 alphabet letter tags they can take them home. I also award them with a special reward after earning all 26 tags. They can choose to have lunch with me, extra game time, extra iPad time, etc.
There are several options for storing and wearing the necklaces. I allow students to wear their necklaces during guided reading and group times while we are working on our letters if they choose to, they do not have to wear them. I store them on a board next to our reading area. Each child is assigned a number and their necklace hangs below it. When they need to get their necklace they simply go to their number. You can also choose to use their names, have students store them in their cubbies, or store them with your other reading materials and pass them out to the students.
Another option that I tried was to store them on binder rings that the students attached to their backpacks. Since the students brought their backpacks to school every day it worked out well and it also acted as a parent communication tool. The students were excited to show their parents when they earned a new tag and parents were able to monitor their child’s progress.
Alphabet Reward Tags Book
If you want a less public way for students to store their alphabet letter reward tags and for you to keep track of their progress, then alphabet books are a good option. When students earn a tag, they glue it on a page in their books and then write the letter, write words that begin with the letter, or write a sentence (depending on their ability levels) underneath the tag. When a student fills his book and earns all 26 tags they can take their book home or they can keep them at school for reference. Below are pictures of the books I used and the printable templates for the covers (as well as an editable cover) and the pages are included in my alphabet reward tags product on TPT.
I have been using these rewards for many, many years (way before reward tags were created) and I used to give them to my students as individual rewards that could be taken home right away. I would simply put them on colored yarn or ribbon or hand them out individually. This was a great communication tool for parents. Students took great pride in their rewards and parents would often tell me that they would get hung up or kept in very special places at home.
Fellow teachers wanted to use them in their classroom as well. This is what some of the teachers who have used these alphabet reward tags with their students are saying:
“Great motivation for my students to learn their letters! They ask at the end of every class to earn their brag tags! Thank you for a fun product!” – Elizabeth J.
“This has made my learners more confident when learning their letters! Thanks!” – Michelle C.
“The kinder kids love these and are eager to learn the next letters to get their tags.” – Bettina N.
“Just BEAUTIFULLY done from start to finish!
Colorful, creative choice of words, LOVE the
booklets to glue the cards in… AMAZING!”
“My struggling students love the idea of earning a new tag every time they master a letter. Great incentives!” – Jody C.
“I homeschool and my kids love them already! They love showing off the books you provided. Thank you.” – Consuelo H.
“So cute, my kinders love to be recognized with these. Thanks!” – TeacherSpark
“These are so cute! I love them and are perfect initiative for my students to work hard! Thank you so much!” – My Krazy Kinders
“This was a huge hit with my kids! Easy for me too!” – Megan A.
“My class loves earning a letter to put on their necklaces!” – Kimberly B.
If you would like to view more information about these brag tags for the letters of the alphabet, watch this short video (50 seconds long).