So you’ve purchased your digital products and printed them all out. Now what? Prepping your products may not seem like a big deal, but I get I lot of question’s about this very thing. This page will walk you through how I prep my products before incorporating them into our school days. I will share what tools I use and which products I recommend.
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Some of my most popular shop items are my calendar time pages and tracing pages! I frequently get asked about what menus I use for these. While I have seen other families simply use page protectors or shop ticket holders, which is such a great idea, we have opted to use these multi-page menus. They come in a pack of two and have 4 pages (a potential of 8 different page views including front and back). We call these our morning menus and they are the first thing we work through altogether each school day.
In these menus, I love to put in our calendar and weather pages as well as some tracing pages or poetry for that month. This way my kiddos can fill them out with dry erase markers each morning.
TIP: For your calendars, you may find it helpful to use WET ERASE markers! That way the calendars wont wipe off until the end of the month when you clean them with a damp paper towel or cloth.
To Laminate or Not to Laminate
While some things are a one and done, I like to make my printables reusable and more durable whenever I can! I mean, I know my kids can’t be the only ones smearing peanut butter from their toast on their school things, right? Just mine? In any case, paper is destructible. And when you mix paper and children… well, paper products can turn into confetti quickly!
One way to make a product last longer is with page protectors or shop ticket holders (find some great shop ticket holders here). The target dollar spot also tends to have some in July and August with all of their back to school items. If I can slip something into one of these, I will do that instead of laminating it. I have even done this will a few of my play-dough mats.
But some products can’t be put into either of these, such as my activity mats.
For my activity mats, I tend to go all out! I laminate them and attach any pieces with brads or velcro, whatever makes most sense for that particular mat. This Scotch laminator is what I use, but shop around! There are so many good ones! Laminating mats that have any spinners or sliders can be especially helpful.
But its not required for the product to function, so no worries if you just don’t want to invest in something like a laminator! You can still enjoy printable games and activity mats.
TIP: If you need to push a brad through laminated pieces, first puncture the pieces where the brad needs to go through with a push pin or an Exacto knife. Then the brad can more easily slip though the pieces!
I have bent and ruined many brads by not doing this first.
I also use self adhesive velcro circles for game pieces whenever I can. Not only does this help my kids to actually use the game effectively, it also help us keep track of the pieces. when my kiddo is finished with the game, I can just attach all the pieces back to the mat and file it away for next time!
TIP: Don’t be afraid to cut the velcro circles in half or even fourths for those smaller labels and pieces!
Getting That Polished Look
Have you ever looked at the beautiful product pictures on Etsy, all smoothly cut and perfect looking, then printed and cut out that same product and it looks like a hack job? Here are a few tricks to make your printable products look more polished!
First of all, invest in a good straight edge cutter! Can you say game changer? If you are going to be cutting out flash cards and whatnot, just get one. Trust me.
Now, another tool I love to use is a corner cutter. This is definitely not necessary, but it does make flash cards look so pretty, am I wrong? I use this one that has three different sizes and it has worked really well for me.
I hope this was helpful in addressing some of my more frequently asked questions about prepping your products! Feel free to contact me if you have any questions on product prep that weren’t addressed here.
Here is a compilation of the tools I use! The dream team, if you will, for prepping your products: