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16 Inventive Desk Name Plate Ideas for Teachers

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Photo of Emma (Teach Starter)
Updated | 5 min read

If you find your students have fidgety fingers and love to play with their desk name plates (or nameplates … both spellings work!), it might be time to be a little bit creative… a little bit quirky. It might be time to try one of the following ideas for labeling your student desks with their name tags!

Inventive Desk Name Plate Ideas

These desk name plate ideas will have your classroom looking great, those desks well-labeled, and your students fighting to keep them forever!

Pennant Banner Names

Having the desk name plate right where students look at it all day long can be well … awfully tempting for kiddos who are easily distracted. The solution? Move your “name plate” to the front of the desk, where they don’t have to look at it, and it’s just a little bit harder for them to stick a pencil beneath the plate and slowly work up that sticky tape! 

Create a fun and playful desk area by using a pennant banner to hang student names from the front of each desk. We have a huge range of pennant banners to choose from, and most of them are customizable to boot! Just click the blue ‘customize’ button, type in the names you want separated by a space, and there you have it!

15 Inventive Desk Nameplate Ideas Pennant banner

Just click the blue ‘customize’ button, type in the names you want separated by a space, and there you have it!

Pillow Case

Hanging a pillowcase over the back of their chair as a make-shift ‘chair bag’? Brilliant … and sustainable too!

15 Inventive Desk Nameplate Ideas

Hit the dollar store or thrift stores, and load up on inexpensive pillowcases for each student. They can personalize their pillowcases with fabric pens and hot glue to make it their own, then take it home at the end of the year. An added bonus is the handy storage it provides for their books and pencil cases.

Desk Pets

If you’re giving the desk pet idea a try this school year, why not give your students a habitat for their new pets? These fun desk pet name plates have a space to write your student’s name PLUS a home already designed — choose from a cat tree, sky, water scene, and more!

desk plates with a home for desk pets


Goal Setting Desk Name Plates

For students that need a bit of direction, Goal Setting Desk Plates are the place to go.

Choose from PDF and editable Microsoft Word downloads. There are set templates to establish literacy, numeracy, and overall classroom goals, or you can select the editable versions to set your own classroom goals you think are important for your students.

Pencil Pot Name Plate Hack

This is a great desk name plate hack that also helps the environment!

Sterilize and repurpose milk cartons or tin cans for pencil pots. Get your students to decorate them for a fun beginning-of-year activity as a way for them to put their own personal touch on the classroom.


Make a note to check the cans for sharp edges before handing them over to their designers!

Desk dividing cardboard

Sometimes students need a little personal space, particularly in the upper years where independent work becomes more frequent. To avoid distractions, a desk divider is a great idea.

15 Inventive Desk Nameplate Ideas

Use cardstock, and fold it so that it neatly fits the frame of your student desks. Then you are free to let your students decorate it and put their own personal spin on their desk space, or use one of our many downloadable labels and poster resources to give it a professional look!

Scrabble Tiles

Scrabble tiles have been a spelling teacher’s secret weapon for generations. Use these versatile pieces to create re-usable and changeable name tags on students’ desks! Hot glue the pieces to each desk, or use a Scrabble tile holder so that students can move them one from desk to the next.

15 Inventive Desk Nameplate Ideas

At the end of the year, peel off the hot glue, and they’re ready to go again for next year!

Work Folders

Keep hold of those pesky loose sheets, or encourage your students to catch up on missed work by creating a Name Plate Folder to hang on the front of each student’s desk.

15 Inventive Desk Nameplate Ideas

Checking their folders each morning for any work that they need to catch up on makes a great bell-ringer activity, and it can also be good for fast finishers. Why not look at some of our display banners, such as the Pencils – Display Banner on the photo above, for a fresh take on a name label?

Avatar Name Plate

One of the best features on the Teach Starter website, in my opinion, is our Student Avatar Creator widget! Create an illustrated character to represent each student, and use that as a desk name plate. This will be especially fun for parents to spot on meet the teacher night!

15 Inventive Desk Nameplate Ideas

Read up on How to Create and Use Student Avatars in Your Classroom for more ideas on how to use these fun characters in your room.

Stationery Basket Name Plates

With flexible seating becoming such a hot topic, sometimes static desk name plate ideas just won’t cut it.

Create a portable desk nameplate by incorporating a stationery and book basket into the mix!

15 Inventive Desk Nameplate Ideas

Use any of our Desk Plates Teaching Resources to create a sizeable label for any stationery basket!

Helping Desk Mat

Sometimes, students need a few reminders that can’t be found on anchor charts. Use one of our many resources to help your kids with some literacy and numeracy hints. Our Free Download: Desk Mats Upper Grades with editable fonts are great for older students, and lower primary will love our Desk Mats with customizable font lines.

Desk Name Tag Stands

Put a 3D twist on your traditional desk nameplate with a Desk Name Tag Stand! The starry stands are so easy to assemble: just print out the Desk Name Tag Stands, and write your students’ names on them. Or, why not have your students personalize the stands themselves?

Then cut and fold them to create simple name tag stands.

15 Inventive Desk Nameplate Ideas

Affirmation Desk Mats

Give your kiddos a reason to smile every day with a desk mat that not only labels their desk with their name but also gives them a positive affirmation to keep them going each day!

affirmation desk mats for the classroom

Traditional Desk Name Plates

If you’re a traditionalist who likes minimal fuss, there’s definitely still something for you in this blog. Have a look at our Name Tags Teaching Resources, Labels Teaching Resources, and Studio for some easy yet effective name label tools.

Choose your size, and click customize on any of our pre-designed resources, or design your own in the studio with access to dozens of fonts and illustrations.

Here are just a few more of our multitude of desk mats to jazz up your classroom!

What inventive ideas will you incorporate into your classroom?

Make sure you #teachstarterus – we’d love to see them!


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