Tips for Prepping Reward Tags

I've written several posts about reward tags, but I've never focused solely on tips for prepping reward tags. After replenishing my own reward tag supply the other day, I decided a post dedicated to prepping reward tags was long overdue.

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If you are looking for posts on what reward tags are, how to use them, how to store them, and so forth, click here because this post will focus strictly on prepping your tags.

Reward tag prep can be broken down into four easy steps: print, laminate, cut, and hole punch. But first....

The Most Important Tip for Prepping Reward Tags
The most important tip is to prep all of your tags during the summer. This way, the tags are ready to go on day one and you don't have to think about it during the school year. Prepping your tags can easily be done while you're binge watching Netflix. It's the perfect "TV task" as I like to call it.

Step 1: Printing Your Reward Tags
The first step is to print your tags.

Tip #1: Choose your paper. Card stock is a great option. So is this 28 lb. paper. It's thicker than regular printer paper, and smoother, and when printing in color, the designs look really vibrant. There is also a 32 lb. option, but I haven't tried it yet.

Tip #2: Decide which tags to print. You don't want to print ALL the tags. If you just print any and every tag, you'll end up with a collection that overwhelms you and you'll likely have a hard time using them. Instead, decide which tags you want/need to print.

If you're new to reward tags, decide how you will use them (to recognize effort, behavior, academic achievement, and/or a combination of all three) and print a manageable collection of tags that meets your needs.

If you're a reward tag veteran, make note of what you need before school gets out and print what you need over the summer.

Tip #3: Enroll in HP Instant Ink so you can print all your tags in color without breaking the bank! You do need an eligible printer (using the link click on FAQs for a list of eligible printers), but enrolling in the HP monthly ink program is so worthwhile, especially if you don't have the ability to print in color at school. I do not have access to a color printer at school, so if I want to print in color (and I do), I must do so on my own dime.

The HP program is one of those things that seems too good to be true, but it's for real and it's awesome. Basically, you sign up for a plan based on the number of pages you'd like to be able to print each month (ranging from just a few dollars a month to $20 or so a month). If you don't use all your pages, they do roll over. And, as you print, HP gauges your ink levels. When you get low, they send you more ink. Best part, you can change your plan whenever you want! In the summer I use the Frequent Printing ($10 a month) plan that allows me to print more pages, but during the school year I adjust to a plan with fewer pages and costs less ($5 a month). Click HERE for more info and to enroll.

Tip #4: If you don't like the idea of printing in color use black and white reward tags. All you need is some colored paper (card stock or Astrobright). I offer a full collection of black and white reward tags in my store.

Step 2: Laminate
The next step is to laminate your tags for durability. To laminate your reward tags, you'll need a laminator and some laminating pouches.

Tip #1: Use a personal laminator. This allows you to seal the tags in a much thicker layer of lamination (compared to school lamination) making them more durable in the long run. Many teachers already own a personal laminator, but if you don't, it's a great investment. They can typically be purchased at Target or Walmart for around $20. You can also find them on Amazon (but usually at a higher price).

Tip #2: Don't be afraid to use the "generic" laminating pouches. I use these pouches from Nuova. They are great. They are nice and thick and they seal up really well. And, best of all, they aren't pricey.

Tip #3: Set your laminator to the 5 mil setting. This makes the machine a bit hotter and will ensure that the lamination sets as it should.

Tip #4: Laminate the entire sheet of tags before you cut. It's counterproductive to cut your tags, laminate them, and then cut them again. Trust me, I've laminated the full sheet of tags for years and it works like a charm.

Step 3: Cut
Now, you're ready to cut out your tags. You can do this with scissors, of course, but if you're looking to maximize efficiency, keep reading.

Tip #1: Use a paper trimmer to cut apart your tags. This little tool makes it really easy to prep several sets of reward tags at once, and your hands don't cramp up in the process.

Tip #2: Use a paper trimmer with a guide wire. This speeds up the cutting process. Line the guide wire up with the lines on the sheet of tags and slice away.

Tip #3: Use the paper trimmer to trim the edges off each set of tags. This goes super fast when using a paper trimmer vs. scissors.

Tip #4: Cut the tags into rows (3 rows per page).  

Tip #5: From there, cut the rows apart into individual tags. You can use the paper trimmer to do this, or you can use scissors because at this point, you're just snipping them so they become individual tags.

Step 4: Hole Punch
To hole punch your tags, I have a few tips.

Tip #1: Use a regular hole punch. If you go this route, use a padded one. This pair from Fiskars is great. I own it in two different sizes, but the standard 1/4 in. size works great for reward tags and it's the one I use most often.

Tip #2: Use a three hole punch. This is my new go to when my hands are inflamed and my grip is weak (which is often these days). To use the three hole punch:
  • Place two tags beneath each of the three punches. 
  • Eyeball it the best you can. Being perfect isn't necessary, but aim for the middle the best you can.
  • Make note of the marks on the built in ruler where you lined up the tags so you can quickly align the rest of them. 
This technique lets you to punch 6 tags at a time. It gets the job done quickly and you'll really save your hands while you're at it.

A Few More Tips for Prepping Reward Tags

  • Use the summer months to prep your reward tags for the whole year so you don't have to think about it during the school year. Ok, so that tip was already shared, but it's that important. ;)
  • Ask your family to help with laminating, cutting, and/or punching the tags.
  • Let parent volunteers help with the laminating, cutting, and/or punching if that works better for you.

Ready to Prep Some Tags?
I hope you're ready to give a few of these tips a try! Grab this FREE set of tags and start prepping them for your classroom today! Click HERE to grab your freebie. The download includes a black and white version. :)

More Reward Tag Related Posts
I have a few other reward tag posts that you might find helpful. Check them out here:
Raving About Reward Tags 
Reward Tags {All Your Questions Answered}

Reward Tag Resources
Looking for a more complete reward tag collection?  Be sure to check out my resources on TPT.  I have lots of options available.  Click on an image to learn more. :)


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  1. Awesome Post!!! Thanks for all great post.

    Helen |

    1. Aw, thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I appreciate you taking the time to comment! :)


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