The last little while has been a birthday marathon. As a result, we have started a new gift tradition: backpack name tags.
A few years ago when my son entered pre-school I wanted to put his name on his school bag in a way that was easy for him to identify. For me, that meant something fun and unique, as well as something with a learning component. Given that pre-school students are learning their name the learning component was already built into the idea of a name tag.
I made a colourful hanging name tag with a Lego mini figurine at the bottom. It was a hit with my son, and his classmates. It has continued to be a hit in kindergarten as well. So, when the birthday marathon started these little backpack name tags became a must have.
To include my son in the creation of the backpack name tags for his friends, I allow him to do whatever parts of the process are age appropriate. Currently, his contribution consists of choosing colours, and helping create the pattern with those colours. He also helps to pick the item that dangles from the bottom end of the name tag, and after I attach it all together he gives it the final stamp of approval.
- Small drill with a 1/16th drill bit
- You may need a pin or needle
- Coloured crafting beads (I use assorted pony beads)
- Alphabet beads
- Braiding cord
- Bead landing split rings (small)
- Crimp beads
- Bead crimper, or pliers
- You may need headpins or eyepins
- Crazy glue
- A decorative item to hang on the end of the name tag (Lego figurine, fancy eraser, special bead or charm, etcetera)
- Decide on a word or name, if you are choosing to use one.
- Pick your alphabet beads to spell your chosen word or name. Lay them out.
- Choose your decorative item for the end of the tag. I recommend doing this now, or even before you pick your word because depending on what you chose, you may use it to pull your colour choices for your bead pattern, or maybe even your word.
- If your decorative item needs to be prepared at all, this is a good time. Some items need to have a headpin, or eyepin inserted so it can dangle from the name tag. Some may require glue.
- Pick your beads. Again I recommend laying them all out in the pattern you are creating to see if it looks the way you want. Taking beads on and off the braiding cord can cause it to fray, and then it can become difficult to get your beads on.
- Cut your braiding cord to size. I recommend cutting it a bit longer then you need because if it frays you can trim it and not worry about it becoming too short to finish your name tag. Furthermore, having a bit of extra length also makes it easier to tie off the end without struggling.
- I like to start at the bottom. I attach the decorative item first, and work up the way. Use the crimp beads to create a closed loop to hang the decorative item on.
- Now add your pattern and word. Take care attaching any alphabet beads to insure that your word isn’t spelt backwards.
- Use a second crimp bead to close the top end of the braiding cord, loop it around a small split ring. This split ring will be used to attach the name tag to a finding in the last step.
- After you have closed that crimp bead you will have some extra braiding cord left. You can cut this, and move on to step 11, or you can add some beads to it as well and close it off using a third crimp ring looped around a small bead. Either option creates a nice finished product.
- Attach the small split ring to a finding, and you have completed a backpack name tag! The finding is then used to attach the name tag to a backpack, pencil case, lunch kit, diaper bag, or etcetera.
A couple final notes. I would recommend being aware of the length of the name tag; it is a dangling object on a child’s backpack so it shouldn’t be cumbersome, or problematic. I would also recommend being aware of what beads you are using and for what age, for example glass beads wouldn’t be safe or last long on a kindergarten’s backpack. Finally, if you are using a Lego figurine, decorative eraser, or something with small parts that can be detached I recommend gluing them so the Lego figure’s arms and legs still move but the body can’t be pulled apart.
By Shari Marshall – 2016