January 21, 2014

5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials: Keep Calm and Laminate On!

Just as the Dr. Who villain Dalek has the battle cry of "Exterminate!", my cry as a frugal homeschool teacher would be "LAMINATE!" My laminator is a dearly beloved and much used homeschooling essential and one of just two physical items on my homeschool essentials list this week.
#2 My Laminator
I big pink puffy heart my laminator. I bought it for just $19.99 at Costco the first year that we homeschooled. Honestly, I think I laminated nearly every single day of that school year--or at LEAST three times a week! When you are trying to save money, repeatedly printing out paper after paper is not money wise. Neither is printing out a game, a puzzle, flash cards, calendar cards or anything else that is going to be handled a lot, without protecting it. Do you plan on reusing curriculum material like bingo boards? Or charts? Phonics helps? If you don't cover them with something, you won't be able too!

That's where my laminator comes in handy. When I get a new curriculum--say a boxed curriculum like our My Fathers World curriculum--I sort thru it and pull out anything that is reusable. Once I've got all those type of papers out, I heat up my laminator and get to work! It takes a bit of time, but knowing that I won't have to worry about tearing or marking it up and it becoming unuseable is worth the time it takes! I have things from Kindergarten that I laminated because I knew I'd need them again when my youngest Baby Britches is old enough for school.

homeschool essentials laminate small posters
Another VERY good use is for things that go in a calendar notebook. Instead of printing out a lot of sheets, I see if I can laminate any of it. Then I can hole punch it and know that with a simple wipe of a rag it's cleared off for the next use. No wasted paper! This is the same for any worksheets that I am going to use repeatedly--print once, laminate and then use over and over!
homeschooling essentials laminator
If you are going this route, my tip to you is that the Vis-a-Vis pens work the best for writing on laminated items...

Did you buy some online units or games? Are they in color? Are you worried they will tear and you will have to reprint and waste ink? Print them off once and then laminate them! I do this, then stick the game and it's pieces [all laminated if possible of course!] into ziplock bags for storage. I'm far more likely to play a game if it's got a laminated game board.

For me, the teacher...well I laminate my forms too! I laminate a weekly schedule, a calendar, blog forms...anything that will get high useage and could save paper...it gets laminated!

homeschooling essentials laminator

So if a laminator is a homeschooling essential, what kind is the best?
Any kind!

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That's the lame answer I know...but truly, if you just find yourself a good laminator whether $5, $10, $15 or $100 you are going to get your money's worth! My particular laminator was special product for Costco. You can find the next generation of it on Amazon...

I have a Purple Cows brand laminator and I have had no problems with it at all! I've even had to completely take it apart to get something out of the rollers and it went back together and still works great!

Another laminator option is by Scotch:

Here is what my friend Diana has to say about her Scotch laminator:
I have the Scotch Laminator and I love it. It's easy to use, heats up quickly and laminates evenly and quickly. We've used it at co-op without overheating or jamming (think 30 kids' projects in less than an hour).

Many of my friends like Diana, have and use the Scotch Thermal Laminator and love it...others have a Purple Cows brand either like mine or the one above. Regardless of which brand of laminator you get, I recommend going for one that won't take up much room. Mine is barely longer than a ruler and just about 3 1/2" wide so it's easy for me to use, then put away until the next time. (which like never happens since I use it so much. But I COULD do it if I wanted to. LOL!)
Now--laminator sleeves...that is where you can get spendy if you are trying to stay with name brand pockets. Here's the secret--your laminator doesn't know the difference! Once I used up all the sleeves that came initially with my laminator, I searched around on Amazon.com and discovered sellers who sold them in bulk 100pc boxes. Would you believe I have to buy one of those every school year?? But laminating is great for so many things...including posters for your walls, important photos, paper puzzles.

Yes, I could wax eloquently about all the things I've laminated over the last few years...and I will be holding a funeral the day that my dearly beloved homeschooling essential finally kicks the bucket! May it not be soon!
homeschooling essential laminator

So far my list of homeschooling essentials includes love and my laminator...tomorrow we will talk about something that is essential to my homeschool---but something I need to "stretch" myself on!

5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials
Head on over to our anchor post to see the full list of participants in this week's blog series...or if the thought of 80+ blogs is overwhelming...here is a great group of nine to get started with!

Make sure you get entered in our giveaway for this week--we've got a iPad mini up for grabs which is a great prize and a homeschooling essential for many! You can get entered to win, and because I am one of the co-hosts for the giveaway all of my Facebook fans and email subscribers get free entries (one for each!)! Deadline to enter is midnight January 28th, so don't wait!


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