Tips and tools on making printable materials


My friend Jane from TheLaminatrix is a total expert in cutting, printing, laminating, and everything else pertaining to turning printables into ready-made materials. I often get asked about tools recommendations for printing and laminating my digital cards so I thought it would be interesting for you to learn what Jane has to say about it.


For those of you who do not know me, please let me introduce myself. I am Jane Albery, former teacher with a major in Language Arts. Now I’m a homeschooling/afterschooling mother of two who also owns an Etsy shop offering Montessori inspired finished materials thelaminatrix.etsy.com as well as printables on teacherspayteachers.com/store/thelaminatrix

I often get asked about tools I use to make my materials. I have received quite a few messages from teachers and parents telling me they admire the quality of the cards they received and would love to be able to take advantage of purchasing less expensive printables and making their own materials. So I decided to write a post about my favorites and share them with you along with affiliate Amazon links. I buy most of my supplies on Amazon since I have Prime memberships, and it has been great because it allows me to be able to try just about anything and return it if I am not 100% satisfied with the results. And trust me, I have returned a lot! Below are the pictures of my best tried and true laminating pouches, laminator, paper trimmer, corner rounder, and printer along with the Amazon links. I will post a short description under every picture.


I actually wrote a review on Amazon about this item, so I will not repeat myself as you can read it following the link. Purchased it a little over a year ago and had no problems since.


Prior to that I thought Fellowes Saturn 3i 95 was doing a good job. But the plastic construction of it couldn’t handle my load and started smelling funny and making loud scary noises. I only had it for 3 or 4 months when it started happening. But if you laminate occasionally it may very well work for you. Here’s the link to it on Amazon and as you will find out it has rather glowing reviews -  http://amzn.to/2uMmKu3


 I buy these in bulk now at 200 sheets, which ends up being about 12 cents a pouch. They come in two 100 sheet boxes with a feeding sleeve aka carrier. You do not have to use it, but I do as my industrial type laminator is capable of taking the thickness of cardstock, 5 mil laminating pouch, and the carrier. The results are gorgeous glossy finish without a single scratch or blemish.


Now if you read the reviews on Amazon, they do not seem so hot. But a lot of those have to do with people not being able to install it or some other technical nonsense that has nothing to do with the actual performance and quality of print. I had an HP printer before, it had duplex print capability and lots of other cool features. BUT! When I printed side by side, especially darker images, there really was no comparison. I do also buy my refills on eBay. All four toners are about $150 and they last me over 6 months. And I print a lot! In fact I just printed device statistics and it shows I’ve printed about 2500 sheets. What?



This was my 3rd paper trimmer and it’s a keeper! I initially ordered the 18” one and quickly realized I didn’t need it to be this long, so exchanged it for 12 1/2” and have been very pleased. It has automatic paper clamp, which holds whatever you are cutting in place rather well. Not so much for laminated sheets, as those are slippery, but since I precut all my paper and cardstock, it has proven itself to be irreplaceable. No Fiskars trimmer was ever able to cut with this German precision.


I’ve tried gazillion corner rounders and this one is by far my favorite! As with all corner rounders, they will dull over time and there’s now way to sharpen them. At least I don’t know how to. So when I buy these I get two at a time. It has a little storage compartment for your clippings, so they don’t fly all over the place and you can actually use your hand, rather than your thumb to punch corners, which is a lot easier on your wrist. I also like having 3, 5, and
8 mm options. It is not available on Prime as it’s shipped from Japan, but the wait is totally worth it.

So there you have it, TheLaminatrix tricks of the trade. Let me know what you think and if you use the same or different tools. I am definitely curious to see what others use and am always open to suggestions. And like I said, with my Prime membership, I really have no problem exploring other options.

I am wishing you the best in the new school year. Have fun learning and teaching.


Yours truly,
TheLaminatrix


A tour of the Montessori 0-3 environment at Montessori Doma

Everyday I read a lot about the Montessori method. I browse the internet and share all my finds on my Facebook page. I see so many beautiful Montessori places! 

Why do I like sharing with you my Montessori finds? I get inspired and I want to inspire you also! I think it is interesting to observe how Montessori classrooms look in different parts of the world. The classrooms have similar core materials but all of them are very unique. Looking at them gives me ideas for improvements. I find design decisions and material variations that I can implement in my work.

Recently I saw one place and I was so eager to have a deeper look at it. This was Montessori doma. I contacted the owner and got acquainted with wonderful Mojca. She turned out to be the sweetest person. She is so kind and lovely! I asked her to make a virtual tour of her place for my readers and she was so eager to show it. Yei!

    

Mojca is from Slovenia. She is a mother of two girls (9 and 7 years old), Montessori assistant 0-3 and at the end of 3-6 training. She is a founder of Montessori doma – it means Montessori at home (blogwebshop, and academy for parents) Now she is preparing her first online course for the parents who want to implement Montessori at home. How cool is that?! I think sharing knowledge is so important because by teaching others you learn and understand things better yourself.

Montessori is very young in Slovenia. First Montessori preschool was established in 2002. Mojca found out about Montessori when she got her second child in 2010. It resonated with her immediately. By the way, the same situation was with me. It is such an incredible feeling when you feel that you found something you were looking for. She wanted to know more about the approach so she started reading the books, contacted the local preschool for attending the parent-toddler class with her girls. She even enrolled in the Montessori long term class for Montessori teachers 0-3. Firstly she started as a mother who wanted to raise her girls the best possible way and she found that Montessori is the best fit for her family. Now she is doing this as her main occupation.

She started to write the blog first. Her blog was the first  Montessori blog in Slovenia. There were not that many information for parents available and they were grateful for the information she provided., Also she decided to open a store with Montessori appropriate materials and items to help parents find them. I think this is one of the reasons we all are doing Montessori.


Running parent-infant and parent-toddler classes is her big passion. She has been doing this for 7 years now and the last year she has got a place to rent. She sees so many transformations happening in her class with the parents and the children. The parents become much more secure in their role as parents, they trust their children more and on the other hand, children become more independent, more engaged in their work as they were before. This is what makes her driving and keep doing her work. 

So let's look at her fabulous class! I am so excited! I want to tell you more about every element so you have a deeper understanding of what is inside the classroom.

The photos are from the space that was prepared for 0-3. Twice a week she transforms the place to serve only for the babies. She removes high furniture and all the materials for 1-3 and adds only the ones for the babies.


The space is 40m2.  I love it when the classroom has big windows. They are not always available because not all of us are lucky to find such place but you only look at it. Big windows fill the class with such amount of natural and warm light. Light plays a special role in forming a calm and beautiful space also. 

The classroom is not full of bright colours but does it make it look worse? No, not at all. This combination of wooden furniture, calm colours, green flowers and some colour elements form all together beautiful and inviting environment.

Furniture is mostly from Ikea. She reworked some pieces so they are costumed to the children and the purpose.

This little table and chair can be used from abut 6 months. They help a child to form independence from the day they start to sit.They are just the appropriate size for children. A child should be able to touch and feel the floor with his feet. It helps them to feel safer. 


Glass walls are my seconds love after windows. They add some kind of elegance to the whole space.
Here you can see practical life and food preparation area. 


On the top shelf you can see from the top and left to right: 
1. Red bin for organic waste, cutting board, and knives; 
2. Big ceramic green bowl with handles is for scrubbing the chairs, tables, and kitchen board; 
3. Tray with 2 cloths, one for wiping the spills and the other for cleaning the table. There is a small sweep and dustpan for the table beside the tray. It is for sweeping the crumbs or for cleaning after beans transferring; 
4. The green basin is for washing the fruits and vegetables. There is a little brush and the pitcher inside. 
5. Towels are for the wiping the floor for any water spills.

Pay attention that Mojca has a hook on the right side of this shelf and on the right side of the sink. This way children can access them easily.

On the left, you can see a child-sized sink. And here is an interesting moment - Mojca's room doesn't have plumbing. But the sink is completely functionating. She really wanted to have a running water in her room so she had to improvise. She wanted the water to be available for children. So she made a DIY portable child-sized sink. Her friend helped her out. She used this tutorialThe sink only provides the cold water and the water pump has a humming sound but the kids are ok with this. Mojca changes the fresh water for every session and empties the used water. 


On top of this shelf, you can see a basket with fruits and a basket with cutters


These are some other food preparation works that are available in the classroom.


There is a corner in the classroom where all the cleaning tools are situated. Again they are on the child's level so they can easily access them. There are different brushes and brooms. 


You can see a huge and amazing ball tracker on the next photo. I like that its size is pretty big so the child can observe it while standing. Then there is a small chest of drawers of the nice mint colour. There are dry towels for the activities of practical life inside. The children can change them by themselves if needed after finishing the activity if the used towels are wet. Also there is a drying rack where children can hang towels and clothes they used for cleaning. I like a lot this practical life element. Also, pay attention to the picture. It is on the child's eye level and it depicts a realistic photo of monkeys.


Other practical life work that you may find interesting is hands washing. I just love this ceramic bowl! It is beautiful and children learn to handle delicate things. Again there is a hook for a towel. Wow, every element of this environment is so well-thought!


Children have a small watering can so they can care for plants.


There is a table with mirror for nose blowing. Mojca stores napkins in this small drawer. It is so exquisite. Mojca has chosen such an appropriate piece of furniture exactly for this work and for this environment. 

Then you can see the fine motor shelf. Every work is in separate basket or tray. Here we have scooping, transferring, bolts twisting and threading material. As you remember we do all the transferring works from left to right (it is indirect preparation for writing). Pay attention at the right amount of beans in the bowl. You should put the amount of beans (or other things you use for transferring) that a child is able to transfer. A child will probably don't have that amount of patience to transfer the whole bowl and we don't want him to stop and leave half in one bowl and half in the other. When I put such work on the sheld i put in the bowl about 10 spoons of beans and then I observe how children work with this amount. This may seem like a tiny thing but the whole Montessori method consists of such small but important details.


Then there is a shelf with various works that will be interesting for children. 

You can see from the top and left to right:
2. Shape sorter from Ikea;
3. Hammering work - box with balls;
4. Small puzzle;
5. Mystery bag.


Then there is a place for musical instruments. I like that every of them has a separate basket rather than stored all together in one. This way a child can work with every instrument independently and concentrate on it.


Then you can see a language shelf. I like then she even put that adult books shelving exactly in this place in the classroom. They somehow belong to the language area of the classroom. Maybe this wasn't her intention but it makes sense for me ;) I like that Mojca uses different baskets. They add life and colours. The shelf looks calm and invinting. The hedgehog painting by the famous illustrator Jelka Reichman suits the space so wonderfully. 


There is also a reading area. There is a cozy reading corner with pillows, arm chair, and basket with books. Have you noticed that there are different blue elements throughout the whole classroom? I think this add the feeling of connection to the whole space and it is pleasing to the eye.


The classroom also has an art area with blackboard and different art works. The red bucket is for cleaning the art board.


On the shelf you can see from the top and left to right: 
1. Stamps; 
2. Crayons; 
3. Glue box; 
4. Protective covers for all the art works.  Children take the everytime they work with art materials and put on the table surface to protect the table; 
5. This basket is for plain papers.

This is an area for the babies. It has a low mirror, sort mat and pillows, stand for mobiles and takane ball.


This is a low shelf with materials for infants that is near.


This turned out to be a very detailed post. But I really like this place and I wanted to show you all its corners. I see that Mojca has put all her heart and soul into it! I am happy to meet such a professional. I want to thank Mojca for such opportunity to visit her space virtually ;)

The other reason for such a detailed description of the elements is to help you create your own spaces. I think it will give ideas for teachers in the classroom and for parents at home. This way you will have a more complex idea of the Montessori 0-3 environment and can go and implement some of this ideas right away.

Please visit Mojca here: 
Online store: http://trgovina.montessoridoma.si/ (she ships to other countries too)



This is not a sponsored post I just really like this place.

Spring Nature Table Inspirations

This post is a part of the Montessori Bloggers Network project "Our Montessori Spring". My blogging friends and I collaborated to share with you our seasonal ideas.

I like nature tables because they bring nature to the classroom. Usually nature table is a selection of various natural gifts or nature-related items that are collected in one corner or on one shelf. They add life to the classroom. They connect children to our wonderful natural world. These items welcome children to explore and discover them. Children like to touch, smell and interact with these items. A child can complement the table with his own finds and nature treasures.


During different seasons we can create seasonal nature tables that will include seasonal items and support children in their learning of the seasons and let nature to always be around. It may contain seasonal nature gifts, seasonal works of art and anything that is connected to this season.

Let's look at some spaces and get inspired to create something wonderful in our homes and classrooms. Let's get some ideas of what we can place on this table. Some of the tables have less natural elements and more seasonal items. You can combine several ideas and create something that is suitable for your environment. 

This spring area looks very beautiful and lovely. It will not take a lot of space. You can place it on any shelf or chest with drawers. Spring-themed painting or art piece, fresh flowers, little birds figurines look wonderful.
Spring nature table with birds and flowers
This table also looks pretty simple but lovely. It doesn't have a lot of elements but it definitely has a spring feeling. It has fresh bright flowers, lovely art works in spring colours and a couple of little figurines. 

Spring nature table with flowers
This is a very lovely seasonal setting. It includes different elements in various shades of green. Such table setting can be made even in small spaces. You can add more elements during the span of the season. Such setting can be easily substituted for another season by changing the elements. 

Spring nature table
This is the whole spring shelf. You can also have one if you have enough space. Painting with warm sun and bright colours, flower, book about spring, little birds. Think about what feeling spring gives you and what items will help your child to have these feelings also.

Spring-themed table
Spring flowers and green grass. This table also includes some elements of one of the biggest spring holidays - Easter.
Beautiful table inspired by spring
Look how springy this one looks! Willow twigs, green bulbs, green colours. It shows the the spring is a time of growing.
Spring table with flower bulbs
This one doesn't look specifically like spring one, the summer one can look similar. But it looks very green and full of plants. 
Fresh and green table
Again spring colours and flowers. These are definitely the things you want to include at your table.
Spring table with flowers
I like this piece of cloth that has different shades of green. Lovely book about spring. Small painting with growing bulb. Beautiful blossoming flower.
Nature table in March
I wish you inspiration!

Don't forget to check out other amazing posts about Montessori and spring! I wish you inspiration!



Don't forget to come back on March 21 and read all our botany related posts!