After seeing the success I had with reward tags for alphabet letters (you can read more about that here) and how motivated and excited students were about learning the letters and receiving a tag for each one, I decided to create some for numbers, colors, and shapes too.
With the ever increasing demands on young students to learn more and more standards, I like to praise and encourage them each step of the way and keep a positive “vibe” because it can get a little overwhelming for them. In years past I would use stickers as rewards or place a sticker on an incentive chart each time a student would master a letter or concept and my young students enjoyed receiving them (we all know how excited they get about receiving praise from the teacher!), but they didn’t seem to value them quite as much as they did their reward tags.
My students were really excited about receiving each tag and took great pride in seeing all of their accomplishments on their reward tag necklaces. I was told by parents that once the children were allowed to take their necklaces home they hung them in very special places in their rooms or in the house and reviewed them as well as showed them off to others.
I have found that receiving something extra special and unique that celebrates their efforts energized students’ desire to learn more, kept them enthusiastic about their learning, and restored their confidence and commitment (especially if they had been struggling). This is why I made each tag different with its own praise word and “cheer”.
They are designed to appeal to young children with bright colors and cute characters. They also have pictures of real world objects to not only give students a visual reminder but also help them associate their learning to the real world.
The numbers reward tags have both a number character and a ten frame character that helps students “see” the number and build their number sense.
I have distributed them several different ways over the years depending on the personality of my class. 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.
By far the most popular way students have kept track of their tags has been on ball chain necklaces. 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. On Amazon you can find them in packs of 50 or packs of 25.
After students master a number, shape, or color they receive the appropriate tag and place it on their necklace.
Another option for storing reward tags is to use binder rings. Several years ago hanging items on their backpacks was “all the rage” for my kinders, so they enjoyed have a ring on their backpack for their tags. 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.
Brag Tag Books
If you want a less public way for students to store their reward tags and for you to keep track of their progress, then reward books are a good option. They are also a nice keepsake of their accomplishments and can be used for reference throughout the year.
When students earn a tag, they glue it on a page in their books and then complete a task below it. The task can be differentiated to fit each student’s ability level.
For example, in the numbers tag books students glue a number tag on each page as they are earned and can write the number and/or write the number word, color in or draw objects in the appropriate number of boxes in the ten frame underneath.
For the shapes reward tag books, students glue a shape tag on each page as they are earned and can draw the shape, draw an object of that shape, and/or write the shape word underneath.
For the colors books, students glue a color tag on each page as they are earned and can draw something of that color and/or write the color word underneath.
Each reward tag can also be given out as an individual reward. If you do a color, number, or shape of the week you can give the reward at the end of the week or when a students shows mastery.