Wednesday, 28 December 2011

10 Tips for Laminating your Printables!

Laminating and packaging your printables such as worksheets and card games are so much fun! If you are an addict like I am, here are a few tips that can make it quick, easy and safe.
  • Printing Ink: Your printer must have medium to high levels of black and colored ink. If you print in color and your color cartridge is low on only one color, say blue, it cannot use other colors to make more blue so all color levels (the little bars) must be 'up'.

  • Paper color: The color of paper is really important. I love these for printing large and bright bulletin board letters, then I laminate them. For write-on-wipe-off worksheets that are 'black and white', you can print on colored paper, even the bright fluorescent ones! These are especially great for posters, name tags and things that you need to POP out visually. It's a cost-effective way of having color without needing colored ink! 

  • Paper thickness: For all of my printable card games, I print them out on Astrobrights cardstock. Why? It's not just for adding durability, it also helps to prevent the printed side from being seen from the reverse side. So students can play, without having to try to conceal their cards from their opponents' view. 
  • Laminating machine quality: It is preferable to use a machine that has multiple heat settings for different paper thicknesses. Older or cheaper machines may have limited options for temperature adjustments and this can lead to either under-heating or over-heating. If your laminator is too hot, it would cause the paper in the pouch to come out wrinkled with folds and dents. If it is too cold, it could lead to air pockets. The solution to both scenarios is to re-laminate it (pass it through a second time) at the right temperature setting, according to the paper thickness. This would iron out the wrinkles and seal out the air pockets.  For A4 sized laminating of large classroom posters, use a large laminator like this one.
  • Fire Safety: A good laminating machine should also have a safety automatic shut off (like a curling iron does).
  • Cutting: I recommend the use of a guillotine (if you are handy with it) because it really saves time on cutting.

  • Student safety: Laminating and cutting a page leads to sharp corners. You can either stack the pages three at a time to nick off the sharp corner with a scissors in a curving direction for a smooth round off or you can use a nail file to round off the edges so that it does not seem obvious e.g. for playing cards.
  • Even more durability: For super durability, when cutting out your cards or posters, do not cut along the edge of the paper or within the paper area, instead cut beyond the edge of the paper where the two sheets of the laminating pouch touch.  This creates a truly airtight and waterproof seal!
  • Using Velcro: For sorting activities and games, if you need to stick one card to another, use little strips of Velcro (the kind that's already cut into little dots with sticky backs) so students scan sort with ease. I do not recommend tape because it leaves a sticky residue on your cards, it takes up more time for peeling, cutting and sticking, and it is tricky for younger students to handle. 

  • Storage for easy access: Store your printables in labelled transparent 'Ziploc type' bags for easy identification and so that they can stay clean without little fingerprints and juice-spills all over them!

Sometimes laminators can get jammed. This is a really important tip: How to prevent jams - 
When feeding the laminating sheet into the laminator, always insert the sealed end, not the open end, or else it could cause your laminator to jam. Sometimes you may just have small piece of paper to laminate and you decide to cut out a nice rectangular section of the laminating pouch (because you don't want to waste the whole thing). This is okay as long as you cut from the sealed end. But then again, what do you do with the remainder - the part that is not sealed? Use it another time? No. Throw it away or else it could jam your laminator! I have learned the hard way that the best way to be thrifty with my pouches is to use them to the full extent. So if I only have a small piece of paper to laminate, I find other small things to add to the pouch so that I don't have any wastage.


So now that you know my laminating secrets, I hope you have a fun creating and laminating for your classroom!

Monday, 26 December 2011

Do you have a New Year's Resolution as a Teacher?

I made two resolutions last year and now I've learned that I should only make one! I can't believe I thought I could start a school choir on my own in two months with at least two well versed songs. I was optimistic, yes... but not realistic.

So my realistic goal for 2012 (and hopefully it will become permanent) is to do more inductive science experiments no matter what obstacles may come my way! I promised myself that I will teach 'quality' not 'quantity' so it's not going to be about racing against the clock to 'finish the syllabus'. This year, I'll be focusing on the Do's and Don'ts of... the inductive method. I think I'll use a Sherlock Holmes theme (that was just by-the-way).

I'll save the choir idea for 2013!

Sunday, 11 December 2011

My Students are Authors and Illustrators!

Last week, my students handed in their term projects. They created their own stories about a butterfly's life through each stage of development. Beautiful books were surrounding me as they all clamored for me to read theirs. I was really touched to see the effort and care that went in to creating these works of art. The instructions were simple.  I wanted them to stat off with a store bought construction paper book which is just colored construction paper that's already binded for you. Some replaced the generic cover with one of their own, others simply ripped of the generic cover and made the first page into the cover by just decorating it. The rules about content were strict: they had to portray they character at each stage of the life cycle and this had to be in the correct order - egg, caterpillar/larva, chrysalis/pupa, butterfly/adult. I loved them, I let them read their books to the class one at a time and while the stories were similar they were still unique in style and some even had hints of an impending sequel! lol. 

I felt very pleased at my choice of assignment for them because my students really felt like they got the experience of being an author or illustrator. And this should make them see more of their real potential.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Back to School Sale!

I'm loving this back to school vibe that's in the air. Do you feel it too?  I'm so excited to get back to class on Monday, don't get me wrong, I loved the holidays but now I'm just eager to get back with my students. I prepared some new stuff for them and I hope they like it. I know many teachers are already back out to school and the rest of you are going back soon.  So I'm throwing a back to school sale on my printables at TpT and TeachersNotebook - 20% OFF!


Monday, 5 December 2011

Valentine's Day Cards!


I decided to have my students do a quick card making activity for Valentine's Day. I did one for Mother's Day last year and it was a hit! So this Valentine's version consists of eight cards. The decorations on the cards are really cute and they vary to appeal to different age levels. Each card comes in both a color-print version and a black and white version. Grab it at TpT!

Valentine's Day Cards to print   Valentine's Day Cards

Happy Valentine's Day!

About Me

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As a Caribbean primary school teacher, I share my unique classroom with the world through this blog. Readers step into my class through the pictures, articles and classroom samples of games and lessons used in my class. I have been teaching since 2005 at the std. 4 primary level in Trinidad and Tobago. I am particularly interested in sharing my own personal lesson plans, tests and activities. Teachers need to share ideas and support each other because in doing so, we help to educate our students and develop ourselves as teachers. Technology is ever evolving and we as teachers should get on board with it, collaborate and keep up to date with this new age that we live in. Our students belong to this technological era and we must embrace opportunities to learn from each other in this global community. I also love to express my creativity in the classroom. I am a bit of a craftster . So I'm always cutting, gluing or making something... a game, a chart, a learning center, etc. So, teachers and parents, feel free to stop by and see what's new at Nyla's Crafty Teaching!