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I teach 1st grade at my church in our after school religious formation program. I love that I still get to be in a school setting and design and create activities for my firsties to make learning our faith more hands on and fun. I teach with my mom and we spend a lot of time thinking about what we could do to improve our instruction and the activities we do with our students. We are so limited with time since we only have them for an hour and a half each week from October through April, so I often can't try some of the fabulous teaching ideas I read about and see in other classrooms. This year, I did decide to try brag tags and toss my treasure box and I am so glad that I did!
Our students have 6 Catholic prayers that they are expected to memorize at this age. In the past, we've bought dollar store type stuff to put in a treasure box. We tried to make it religious when possible. We normally have around 10 students so this worked out okay. And then last year we had 20 students...learning six prayers....hopefully picking from the treasure box 6 times. If they are each dollar prizes, that adds up fast. And for what? Meaningless trinkets that the kids don't care about by the time they get home. We wanted something different to motivate them. Something that wouldn't cost a lot of money but would get them excited. Enter brag tags!
I loved the idea of brag tags that I'd found on Pinterest and Instagram. Unfortunately, tags that work in a traditional class wouldn't be useful in our class. I needed tags for each of the prayers that they would memorize.
About a month in and I can say I LOVE this change. My students are so excited to earn brag tags and it isn't costing me anything except paper, ink, lamination and time. I bought ball and chain necklaces from Amazon. We started each student off with a tag with their name. We switched the name to STAR tags (Super Terrific Awesome Reward) since brag had a negative connotation that we didn't want in a religious setting.
All of our tags have to be earned, except for our weekly lesson tags. These are very specific to our class, our textbook and the lessons taught. I designed a tag for each lesson that they get if they were in class that day. We are hoping this serves as a reminder when they get home to share with their parents.
Since we teach in the Catholic school that is part of our church, we are in someone else's classroom. Because of this, all of our supplies need to be portable. I made our tags to fit in those plastic craft boxes that are used to hold thread/floss. That way we can easily carry them in our cart, set them on the desk and see exactly what we have available.
The other problem we had to solve was how to store the necklaces. I've seen many teachers that have a place for students to hang them in the classroom. Again, because this isn't our classroom all day long, we didn't have this option. Each student is given a folder and their textbook that they bring to class each week. We decided to buy a small manilla folder with a clasp to tape on the back of the folders. The students put their necklace into the folder at the end of class, close the clasp and take it home with them. When they get to class they are allowed to wear the necklace as long as they aren't playing with it. So far this system seems to be working.
Our students are loving this change and so are we! No more trinkets and trash that we are wasting our money on!
If you could use these with your students, click HERE for more information.