Have some idle time over the summer and wish to be productive for the upcoming academic year? Consider making some buttons! My wife bought a button making machine and all of the necessary accessories a few years ago for her small business, and I’ve co-opted those materials for my own purposes.

I construct a few hundred 1.5″ buttons each year during the summer, and I hand them out at various times during the school year. For example, early in the year, I hand out buttons to parents on Back To School Night. This especially comes in handy when asking for donations. I also hand them out to well performing students throughout the year as incentive.

Buttons are also a fun way to help recruit students into your classes, and I do a round of promotion when counselors are programming students for the next academic year. This usually occurs in mid-spring.

Admittedly, the initial investment of a few hundred dollars for the machine and the paper cutter is daunting, especially in an age of ever tightening budgets. Afterwards, though, if you buy the button materials in bulk, each button costs you about 10 cents to make, plus your time.

But, when I see the faces of students, parents, administrators, and the school’s boosters light up at the finished product, I consider the effort to be a worthwhile investment!

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