What’s an unbelievably inexpensive and fun way for schools to meet myriad needs, from student rewards to fundraising to field trip safety? Buttons! And by purchasing your own button-making system for less than $300, it can pay for itself in a matter of days. Besides, making buttons is a fun and easy project that students will love whether it’s in the classroom, part of an extracurricular activity, or as a part of an art project!

There are countless ways to utilize inexpensive buttons in a school:

Buttons serve myriad purposes for any school, from student incentive to group organizing to fund-raising. And button making systems are so unbelievably inexpensive, they fit easily into any school budget. And the best part is, students can enjoy the fun and creativity of engaging in a button-making project!

Idea #1: Create incentives for students to always do their best

Buttons can be used as rewards for good grades and feature esteem-building messages such as “I’m a stellar scholar!” Teachers can launch classroom contests to see which students can collect the most buttons. Contests could even take place between different classrooms! In schools that discourage grades or competition, such as Montessori schools, the “contest” could focus on students’ beating their own best. For example, teachers could encourage students to beat their record number of buttons earned each week.

Buttons could also be traded in for rewards. For example, a student could trade in 50 buttons for three hours of free time or 100 buttons for an entire day of free time!

Idea #2: Reward positive behavior

As with excelling academically, buttons can also be used as rewards for good citizenship. Buttons could read “I was caught being good in Ms. Kim’s class!” or “I’m a good citizen!” These buttons can even be kept as mementos for student’s personal scrapbooks at home. Teachers could pick one or several students every day or week to receive the buttons.

Idea #3: Ensure field trip safety

All students participating in a given field trip can wear buttons with their school name. If a student becomes lost during a trip to the zoo or museum, staff can lead him or her safely back to the group or make an announcement. At the beginning of the school year, all students could even make their own personalized buttons complete with their name, address, phone number and school name, address and phone number.

This is so much less expensive and easier to orchestrate than instructing students to wear school t-shirts.

Idea #4: Identify crossing guards

In addition to crossing guard sashes, buttons can help identify crossing guards. These students can wear their buttons all day to help teachers identify who needs to be released from class a little early to tend to their crossing guard duties. This type of button can even be kept for students’ personal scrapbooks.

Idea #5: Identify different groups

Buttons with different colors are quick visual aids for teachers to easily identify different reading groups, math groups or even grade levels in mixed-age classrooms. Such buttons also make calling those groups to order a breeze. Buttons can also easily identify students who are undertaking specific daily tasks, such as turning off all computers or wiping clean the dry erase boards–plus, they act as a reminder to the student

Idea #6: Identify children with particular needs

This is especially useful in schools where children change classrooms frequently. Many needs are easy to remember and identify, but others aren’t. Buttons could actually save a child’s life if they indicate a medical condition such as a peanut allergy. This would be very helpful for substitute teachers or during special classroom events.

Idea #7: Create hall passes

Buttons can be used for basic bathroom passes and even more involved passes. For example, a button could read “Yearbook photographer” or “Newspaper reporter” to signal to teachers and administrators that a student is out of the classroom for long periods of time for valid reasons.

Idea #8: Promote special campaigns

Buttons can help increase student participation in particular campaigns. If your school is trying to save thousands in annual energy costs, for example, buttons worn by students, teachers and administrators can help. Buttons could read, “Turn off lights when you leave a room!” Buttons can help promote any campaign, from “Get 10 hours of sleep during testing week!” to “Don’t run in the parking lot!”

Idea #9: Advertise fund-raising events

All teachers and administrators can wear buttons advertising a fund-raising event for a specified period of time leading up to the event. A button might say, “Attucks High Annual garden show, May 5-7.” Teachers could also wear such buttons during parent-teacher conferences. Students could be encouraged to wear the buttons after school hours, as well.

Idea #10: Produce inexpensive visitor badges

Every school needs a way to identify visiting parents, volunteers and prospective student’s families for safety purposes. Using buttons for this purpose is much more cost-effective than ordering custom-made nametags and accompanying lanyards, which oftentimes accidentally go home with visitors and become lost forever! Buttons can feature your unique design, which cannot easily be duplicated by others outside the school system.

Idea #11: Enhance marketing efforts

Maintaining enrollment numbers is an ongoing endeavor for private schools and specialty public schools, and buttons are a remarkably low-cost marketing tool. Buttons could be given to students, such as “I’m a proud student at GiftedKids!” Teachers, administrators, students and parent volunteers can wear the school button during open houses. Buttons can also be distributed to each prospective student’s’ family with information packets.