Laminating Teaching Materials for Special Needs Students
If you are a parent of a special needs child or if you have taught children with autism, you may have a good idea of how important Visual/Hands-On Activities are in assisting the unique learning styles of students with autism.
For reading activities, many parents have great success when they use visual accompaniments such as task cards and matching sheets, and other kinesthetic materials that correspond seamlessly with the text which they are engaging. There are many online resources that can teach you how to DIY your own teaching materials. If you are looking to download free or buy reasonably priced pec cards or other teaching materials, check out teacherspayteachers.com
Children with autism are usually pretty rough when it comes to handling books, papers, cards and other school supplies. To protect the reading materials from damage, parents often laminate the materials. Some parents also opt to use vinyl pockets, bookmark sleeves, and docu-sleeves to protect the materials.
As a parent, it is well worth the money to invest in a laminator. A laminator machine is very durable and can last you a long time with one caveat, that is, if you keep it away from your child.
All laminating machines are used with either film or pouches. Film laminators, also known as roll laminators, are generally more expensive. These are the type of laminators that are found in schools where a high volume of teaching materials are being laminated.
A pouch laminator is more affordable and generally smaller. For laminating school learning materials at home, a pouch laminator that costs less than $200 would suffice. I bought mine for about $150 and it has been serving me well. Frankly, the laminator would pay for itself with just a few laminating projects. Prior to having my own laminator, I would frequently drive to Kinkos after work to laminate pictures and teaching materials for my daughter. It would usually set me back $30-$40 dollars every time I made the drive to Kinkos.
As the name suggests, a pouch laminator uses pouches to encase documents. Laminating pouches come in 3, 5, 7 or 10 Mil. When shopping for a pouch laminator, bear in mind that not all pouch laminators are capable of laminating with the full range of available film thicknesses. Home-use pouch laminators, like the entry-level models sold by Fellowes or Scotch , are often limited to using 3 and 5 Mil laminating sheets.
The 3 and 5 Mil are the most popular sheet thicknesses for your everyday laminating. I personally used the 3 Mil for making colorful morning, afternoon and evening daily planners and posters for my daughter. I use the 5 mil pouch for items like flash cards, which we have hundreds of. This thickness is much like a restaurant menu, which can withstand frequent usage and be cleaned easily. I used 6 x 4’ size card-stock in various colors for the flash cards and then laminate them with a 4-3/8" x 6-1/2" universal clear laminating pouches. You can trim any excess off.
When selecting the pouches, please note that the total thickness of the pouch is going to end up twice as thick as the listed thickness because the pouch is made up of two sheets of pre-cut laminating film seals together along one edge. The thicker the pouches are, the stiffer and more rigid the laminated paper will be.
At the end of the day, it is well worth the effort to start laminating your projects at home. I can tell you from experience, it is a great way of protecting your teaching materials all while saving money. I am sure your child would benefit from all the charts, sheets, and flash cards you will be making