Junior Ranger Badge Display Ideas
Have your kids been collecting Junior Ranger badges and you’re wondering what to do with all of them? Why not make a special Junior Ranger badge & patch display?
In our house, souvenirs often end up being thrown away but never the Junior Ranger badges. So many happy memories are wrapped up in these shiny little keepsakes.
Junior Ranger Badge Display: Shadow Box
For many years, my kids displayed their Junior Ranger badges in simple shadow box display cases. These worked for a long time but over the years, as badges were accumulated, the cases got messy. Overflowing with badges, patches, pins and buttons from various trips and events (including my son Will’s Junior Ranger-themed 7th Birthday Party), we decided it was time for a change.
We found our shadow boxes at HomeGoods several years ago. If you like this idea, Amazon sells a similar hinged box or you can even go for a fancier display case made especially for this purpose (affiliate links).
Junior Ranger Badge Display: Felt Banner
Felt is a wonderful fabric to work with because it is heavy enough to hold its shape for a hanging banner. Also, felt is ideal for no-sew projects (my favorite because I’m not a great seamstress). Forest green was the obvious color to match the National Park Service colors.
First, we simply cut out a wide strip of felt then trimmed one end into a V shape. At the other end, we folded the felt over a thin branch and used tacky glue to attach the banner. Finally, after letting the glue dry overnight, we tied twine to each end of the stick for hanging. Sara now has a place to proudly display her Junior Ranger Badges!
Junior Ranger Badge Display: Fabric Banner
An aisle of ridiculously cute printed flannels also caught my eye at the fabric store. Most of these adorable prints didn’t appeal to my “tweens” (my 10-year-old recently insisted I call her this instead of a “kid”). And many cute woodland prints were too busy for badge backgrounds. But we found a monochromatic one with a bear peeking out from behind gray trees. My son loved it! We also grabbed a piece of black felt for backing since the fabric was a little too lightweight on its own.
We followed the same steps as our first banner, cutting a strip of black felt with a V shape at one end. Next, we cut the print fabric’s shape slightly smaller (allowing room for a hem) so the black felt would show like a trim. Because of my aversion to sewing, I ironed the hem around the edges of our fabric. We used tacky glue to secure my hem and to secure the print fabric on top of the black felt. We used a pretty paper birch branch for this one. I wanted it to really show so we mounted the fabric behind it using tacky glue and a couple of staples. For the finishing touch, we used a hiking boot lace to hang our banner!
I really like how this one turned out, especially the little branch. The woodsy feel seems appropriate with the National Park theme. However, if you don’t want to use a twig, a wooden dowel would work just as well. Or you could even hang it from something fun like a decorative arrow.
For both banners, it was important to begin with laying everything out that we wanted to display. Either of these banners could be scaled larger or smaller depending on the number of badges and/or patches you’d like to hang.
Junior Ranger Badge Display: Painted Artist Canvas
For artistically-inclined Junior Rangers, a wrapped artist canvas is another idea. First paint the canvas and then poke in the badges or glue on the patches with a glue gun or glue dots. The size of the canvas obviously depends on the number of badges you’re working with. We used 12×12 inch canvases.
Using acrylic paint, Sara painted simple stripes of green and brown, the National Park Service colors. It turned out to be a fantastic background for her patch collection! (If you want to add any words or smaller details to your canvas, we recommend using acrylic paint pens for precision.)
Junior Ranger Badge Display: State Outline on Artist Canvas
Since we live in Washington but visit Alaska and Arizona frequently, we talked about making a canvas for each state and attaching the corresponding badges. Turns out that I was the only one excited about this approach. I think my kids preferred the simplicity of having all of their badges in one place. Still, I wanted to give it a try, thinking these would look great alongside vacation photos.
To get the perfect shape of the state of Alaska on my canvas, I used the pencil transfer method. (Honestly, I didn’t know there was a name for it until writing this and searching online. I’ve always just described it as sort of making an old fashioned carbon copy.)
The Pencil Transfer Method
The pencil transfer method is where you scribble a layer of pencil on the back side of the image you want to reproduce. Focus on creating a nice even layer of pencil (or graphite) over the lines you want to copy. Hold your page up to a window to double check that you have put down enough pencil in all the right places. Then, flip the image back over to the front and tape the corners to the canvas so it stays in place. Use a pencil to go over every single line that you want copied to your canvas.
The hardest part is keeping track of where you have done this and where you have left off if you stop for a moment. I made light dashes beside my ending point to help me remember where to begin again. After going over every line, lift the paper and you’ll see pencil marks transferred to your canvas. Since most kids have never seen carbon copies, they think it’s magical!
Finally, I carefully used a Sharpie to go over the line. Originally I thought about also painting the state the same blue as the Alaska flag (and maybe even adding the flag’s golden stars too). However, I sort of like the simplicity of the black and white. Also, I’ll admit that I got nervous about painting the details of Southeast AK and the Aleutian Islands! But it does look a little plain. I will probably revisit this canvas and add something more. Stay tuned…
Junior Ranger Badge Display: Burlap Canvas
A stretched burlap canvas is another easy way to Junior Ranger badges. The rustic look and feel of burlap seems fitting for the badges but if you want to dress it up, stencils work well. Look for plants and animal stencils that fit with the habitat of the National Park you visited or simply stencil fun shapes and lines around the edges to create a frame. Using a Klutz Stencil Kit, my son decided to do both!
In some ways, this burlap version turned out looking the least refined (writing on the burlap with an acrylic paint pen may have worked better than a stencil dabber). BUT it was also the most personalized and looks 100% kid-made (it was!) which is always cool. Perhaps most important, Will had a blast making it and felt really proud of his creation.
Last but not least, for those times when your child wants to take their badges on the road, a handy Junior Ranger utility vest is the way to go!
If you made it this far, I’m guessing that you’re a big fan of National Parks and the Junior Ranger Program, like we are. Be sure to check out the free printable Junior Ranger Activity Book I’m offering to new subscribers.