Laminating and packaging your printables such as worksheets and card games are so much fun! The most important tool is the type of laminator you choose. Use one with multiple heat settings for different types of paper. This prevents paper jamming and wrinkling. Laminating machines should also have an automatic safety shut off feature. Layering assortments of paper or cardstock in white and bright colors will give you beautifully laminated sheets that have popping colors. You may also need cutting tools and some sort of adhesive for sticking up your laminated posters or signs.
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- 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.
- 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!
- 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 laminated edges so that it does not seem obvious e.g. for playing cards.
- Even more durability: For super durability, when cutting out your laminated 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!
- Paper thickness: Before I laminate 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.
- 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.
- 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’.
- 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!
- How to prevent laminator jams: Sometimes laminators can get jammed. 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.
How to Store Laminated papers, pages or sheets
Always store your laminated posters and printables in a plastic see-through pouch or envelope until you are ready to use them.
So now that you know my laminating secrets, I hope you have a fun creating and laminating for your classroom! You can share these 10 Tips for Laminating your Printables to help other teachers. See the best thermal laminators for classroom use in this blog post!
By the way, I have put together lots of ideas for storing your cardstock in your classroom. You can check them out in this blog post.