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Monday, January 11, 2010

Preschool proof your classroom resources

Let's face it - laminating posters, file folder games, and bulletin board pieces can get expensive. I wish I could offer up some great alternatives to laminating but all I can tell you is that in the long run, laminating produces the best results.

In the old days, I used clear contact paper to laminate my resources but this was a difficult task. If I wasn't sticking the contact paper to a table I was putting it on crooked or leaving huge wrinkles down the center of my pretty posters - ugh! So eventually I invested in my first laminator. I actually still have the same one today. It is about 20 years old and I have had to disassemble the whole thing a few times to make it work but it does still work!

My laminator is an Ibico PL - 260 IC. It is very heavy and can only laminate paper up to 8.5 inches wide. I have bought a few newer laminators over the years but they all broke down. This exact model may no longer be available but it is my old faithful.

I usually purchase my laminating pouches from an office supply store like Staples or Office Depot but there are suppliers online as well. There are also different thicknesses but I find the 3ml does just fine for my purposes.

The problem with a small laminator is that you can only laminate small projects. One of the schools I work with has a large laminator that handles posters and large displays but let me tell that the price of that baby is up there. The other option for large pieces is to go back to the office supply store or a school supply store and have them laminate for you.

When you go to laminate small pieces, cut the pieces out first. If you laminate first then cut, the seal around the edges gets broken and chances are your pieces will start to be exposed or just slide out. ALWAYS use the cardboard pouch cover when laminating small pieces and flimsy paper or the paper will get wrapped around the roller inside the laminator. That is what I discovered the hard way but I am now quite proficient at taking my laminator apart and putting it back together again. I rarely laminate just plain pieces of paper. I only use card stock or paper with a heavier weight for best results.

If you are getting big wrinkles or tiny bubbles then your heat may be set too high. If the laminating paper isn' sticking well to the paper, then your heat may be set too low. Read the directions that come with the laminator for more info. Always put the closed end of the laminating pouches through the laminator first!

Is it worth the investment?
I think it is in the long run. I still have many of those same games and bulletin board pieces I laminated back in the old days. I also think laminating makes everything so much more shiny and pretty. Avoid laminating photos though - especially ones you value the most. Better to try that out on ones you really don't care about.

What else can be laminated?
I laminate home-made books that my preschool students have made together as a class. Then I put the book in the reading center for the children to view at will. I also laminate journal covers and name cards for the kids to use all year long. When the children need to see their name card, they just whip it out and use it. Most crayon and some markers can be wiped (or scrubbed) off of a laminated piece of card stock but not all.

See what My Bilingual Boys thinks about contact paper:)
See when to laminate and when not to laminate by Kindergarten's 3 R's: Respect, Resources, and Rants


Elise said...

At the moment my laminator is my best friend (I have been laminating for ages tonight). I bought it when I was teaching and it has only recently seen the light of day now that I am making and preparing activities for my own children.

A laminator certainly is a great investment and I would be lost without mine.

Launa Hall said...

A laminator is a wonderful tool! There used to be (still is?) a deal at Office Depot once a year--Teachers could take in items for lamination on their mega-big laminator FOR FREE. Worth checking your local branch to see if this is still on for those big projects.

When I taught Kindermusik, there was a lively debate among Kindermusik teachers about whether to laminate our big lyric wall charts or not. They last longer and look nice laminated, but they can catch light and be harder to read in some cases. I tend to stay away from laminating big posters for this reason, but I LOVE to laminate all manner of smaller manipulatives. LOVE the photo of your old faithful! 20 years, now that's impressive!

MsJessi said...

I feel you on the contact paper...thinking of it makes me go "grrrr". I try not using it, but every once in a blue moon I must. I love our laminating machine, it is used quite often. Here in Phoenix there are several Teaching Stores and a place called Treasures 4 Teachers that laminates big items for a more reasonable price than the office supply stores.

Thanks for calling out the Laminator! Its by far one of the best tools for a teacher and worth the money!

Kara Morris said...

I just got my first laminating machine and am already a laminating fanatic! I haven't even graduated college yet, and here I am making file folder games... I know my students will love me for it later. At least, that's what I keep telling myself. :)

Thanks for the tips! They will come in handy!

SharaPCS said...

Oh, yeah. My laminator is my BFF. I use it all the time for business and personal use. I have found that the lamination sheets are a much better cost on ebay (rather than an office store). I buy in bulk because I use so many, though. A corner rounder is also great if you want to use thick sheets - so that the corners are not sharp. A hand soldered (metal) rounder cost me $47 but I think the cost (online) went up - last I looked it was $99. Well worth the cost if you plan to use 5 mil, 7 mil or 10 mil sheets - so no one gets cut or jabbed. Just a little tip :-) OH!! And if you live in Arizona be sure to check out - if you are a member there you can use her laminating machines, no charge.

jd6405 said...

I have been teachng preschool for 16 years now and I just got my own laminator for Christmas this year! YAY! I just love it! I am even using it to make projects for my two year old at home!

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