Build skills for back to school with a hammer! Executive functioning skills and responsibility are developed with this unique metal stamping project.
I’ve been at this “mom of a school kid” thing for many years. Both in traditional classrooms and homeschooling. The one thing I dread as a mom? Buying new clothes, books, bags, shoes only to have at least some lost by Christmas. No matter how I labeled things, no matter how many times I ask if they have everything. A coat, book, bag and even shoes… disappear. But not this year. This year we are making a permanent mark on our stuff. My kids are taking ownership and are vested in their new gear. This year, our school supplies and back to school clothes, will have our unique, permanent mark.
Disclosure: I have partnered with YMC and Sharpie/Paper Mate and have received compensation for this post. All opinions and ideas in the post are my own. #SpreadJoy
Part of our struggle with missing items comes from a need to develop executive functioning skills. Executive functioning is simply your ability to get things done by managing time and staying focused and attentive. All kids take time to develop these skills, but this year I’m making the development of these skills a key focus.
First up, I wanted the kids to pay attention to their new supplies and clothes. I wanted them to become vested in taking care of the items. When we care for something, we automatically give it more of our focus and attention.
Labeling Back To School Supplies
The idea for how to label our back to school supplies came from one of our favourite activites, metal stamping. Metal stamping is working with cold metal plates to hammer in words and patterns using steel stamps. It’s a fantastic activity for older kids to do, but even elementary aged kids can get in on the hammering fun, with supervision.
And brutal honesty? Metal stamping is a fantastic stress relief for mom and dad too! Hammering on metal requires calmness, precision, strength. And sometimes it just feels good to WHACK something.
My idea? To stamp metal tags for everything from coats to backpacks to shoes. Plus one more crazy awesome idea your older kids, tweens and teens will LOVE! But, I’ll get to that one in a moment.
Back to School Metal Stamping Supply List
Depending on what you want to stamp, you will need to adjust this list.
Metal Stamping Tools (see my original instructions for a detailed list)
Small dog tags
Rectangular plates (drill holes in both ends for shoelace plates)
Split Keychain Rings (small and large)
Sharpie Ultra Fine Permanent Markers
I was able to grab everything I needed with a quick trip to Walmart. While picking out my Sharpie’s I also grabbed some some Paper Mate Inkjoy Gel Pens. See I have a plan for that crazy, awesome idea. And that beautiful rainbow of gel pens was PERFECT. But first, we needed to do some metal stamping.
I chatted with the kids about my idea and once they realized they were going to be hammering again, they were so excited! Sitting down together, we planned out their letters and hammer strikes. Working through this together is a good way for them to learn some of those executive functioning skills. Planning ahead and preparing, rather than just starting swinging!
After the kids had hammered the words into their plates (always have back up plates for the inevitable mistakes), it was time to make those letters POP off the metal. We wanted to make their words stand out in a permanent way and make a statement. For that we needed those Sharpie Ultra Fine Permanent Markers.
I LOVE using Sharpie pens when I’m doing metal stamping with the kids. I can buy the pens in a wide variety of vibrant colours and they don’t fade, leaving a durable and permanent colour in our stamps. It is also SUPER easy for the kids to do.
Bringing Our Stamping To Life With Colour!
I let the kids pick whatever colour they wanted to use on their metal plates. They quickly learned that certain colours showed up better on the metal than others.
The kids hammered tags with their names, but also fun sayings, empowering words, things that made them feel like a SUPER KID! All of their back to school supplies were fair game, and they had a blast. The plates were quick and easy to attach with the split keychain rings. This also makes them easy to remove and use again on a different item when it outgrow it or the seasons change.
TIP: For even quicker and easier changes, try using a carabiner.
Shoes became super powered! We chose words that would help my son master left and right. R from Rock is the same as R for Right.
They made his feet feel SUPER POWERED!
Zipper tags on coats and backpacks were a must have. With our Canadian winters, using those zippers with mitts and gloves on can seem impossible, but with our fancy new custom metal tags, zippers are a breeze! They also help younger kids struggling with fine motor and zipping.
My son embraced his love of Minecraft, taking his special backpack to the next level. Creepers Gonna Creep!
Lunch kits are now clearly marked.
My Secret Back To School Plans
Once the kids had mastered planning out their stamping projects, I left them to it while I started my own little project.
I mentioned earlier, one of my big goals this year is to promote executive functioning skills. This ties in really well with developing a growth mindset. Together, these skills are important for success throughout life.
The kids took ownership of their supplies with such great enthusiasm with our stamping project that I decided to see if I could customize a planner.
First I created a custom stamp for the front, marking it permanently as MINE! With a red dragon, for this Mother of Dragons.
Check, out the gorgeous colours I was able to use with my Sharpies. I told you, those colours are perfect for metal stamping!
Then, I made myself a bookmark. Embracing my geeky love, Harry Potter, I decided the perfect bookmark for my planner was “Mischief Managed”. That way I could slide that mark into the pages as I completed all my tasks, and achieved all my mischievous goals! I tied it into the coil binding with a piece of ribbon.
Bringing The Colour Inside and Out
Now here is my big secret plan. Remember those Paper Mate Inkjoy Gel Pens I grabbed at Walmart? Those are perfect for using inside my new planner. With the huge rainbow of colours available I’m able to pick different colours to represent different tasks at a quick glance. Blue is work, red is meal planning, green is homeschool, and purple for my stuff.
Using all these colours makes the inside of my planner as gorgeous as the outside!
I am in LOVE with the final project.
And my kids can’t wait to customize their own planners. They went nuts playing with all the gorgeous colours and loved the idea of being able to organize and plan their schedules using colour. My oldest, who struggles with dysgraphia (and writes with a hooked wrist sometimes) and my husband who is a lefty, also loved that Paper Mate Inkjoy Gel Pens are quick drying. No smears!
My crazy, awesome idea worked and now everyone is excited for this year and back to school, plus we are feeling super organized. I love it when an idea comes together so beautifully.