Here are some really cool ideas for things you can make for your classroom using either online printing services or special paper bought from your local office supply store or online. There are so many possibilities–happy creating!
Sticker Project Paper:
To use sticker project paper, you simply type up the message you want to appear and print it out! You can make custom messages for student work (such as “Please finish the incomplete section below and return tomorrow”), or for notes to parents (“2nd copy sent home: please sign and return! Thank you!”). Then instead of writing the same thing out a million times, just slap a sticker on the paper and you’re done.
I like to make stickers out of photos of students: they can use these for making class graphs (each student places a sticker of their face to show their choice when voting on options) or for choosing their centers/stations, etc. so there’s a picture of them instead of just their names. You can also create stickers to label your classroom’s book genres or labels or teacher belongings (as Mrs. Miner did with address return labels in the picture above.)
Magnet sheets are my favorite for lots of reasons. They’re a cheap way to make manipulatives for your classroom. Print out a page of math manipulatives (fraction circles, base ten block, etc.) and use on the board during instruction, or have students use them on cookie sheets during centers or small group instruction. You can also make literacy manipulatives, such as making sentences. Print out a bunch of random kid-friendly words (or include special vocabulary terms you want kids to use), cut them apart, and voila! Kids now have hands-on practice for part of speech, sentence fragments, poetry, and so on.
I’ve also used magnet sheets to create magnets with students’ names on them. These can be used for tons of things: to show attendance, for kids to pick their lunch choices, to display whose bus has been called at the end of the day, and so on. In the image above, you can see how Miss Hunt used magnets to create individual morning routine reminders that students can keep on their desks–this would be fantastic for students with special needs! I can also imagine creating a magnet with a personal schedule on it for those students who have a lot of pull-out classes. You can see even more ideas for magnets on Miss Hunt’s site.
You might not have considered making business cards for yourself, but they’re really great for giving out to parents at open house and conferences, as well as when networking at community events. You can also use business cards to make classroom tickets, math manipulatives, games, and more. Ashley of My Education Journey has used business cards for treasure chest reward cards. The homework pass example shown here is from Mrs. Van Dyke’s site: she has a whole slideshow of ideas for business cards and other things you can make using online printing services.
I used to buy perforated business card paper and print everything myself, but since business cards are small and commonly used, it’s actually cheaper and easier to design them online and have them printed for you. To get started, create an account with an online printing service like UPrinting business cards, which is inexpensive, simple to use, and eco-friendly (they use recyled materials and vegetable dyes.) Upload your own photos or images or choose from the stock ones available on the site–your entire project can be created there if you want. Be sure to plan ahead, as regular shipping costs are reasonable and you don’t want to ruin your savings ordering expedited shipping.
I like to send postcards to students’ homes before the school year starts to introduce myself and get the kids excited about meeting me and starting a new grade level. I also like to send “Good News From School” postcards at least once to every student during the school year. Usually I fill out the entire stack with students’ addresses and then pick one each week to write a short note on and send home. It’s not too big of a hassle and the kids (and parents) LOVE it! That’s my design to the left–you can download it free here. Mine are printed through UPrint because I hate buying color printer ink and one order will last for years, but you could print them yourself using card stock.
Typically I can get my school to cover the postage cost but I think postcards are such a nice way to build relationships with students and their families that I’ll pay for the stamps myself if I have to. Another idea is to just send the postcard home with the student: it’s still a nice gesture and the families will probably display it on the fridge for months. If you decide to try this idea, be sure to check out this adorable collection of ideas for teacher-created postcards from Fabulous Fourth Grade. She’s thought of a million uses! I love the idea of sending a postcard home to students who have been absent for multiple days: you can let them know the class is thinking about them and inform them of make-up work.
Fabric Transfer Paper
Use T-Shirt transfer paper to make personalized class t-shirts, which is a really cute way of building a sense of community in your classroom. Wear the shirts for field day, learning celebrations, parties, field trips, etc. Another idea is to make a personalized tote bag–adorable! The image above shows two items from Miss Van Dyke’s site: she made a VIP shirt for students and a “3 Before Me” hat for herself so she can simply point to the hat instead of repeating herself!
A note about how to save money on printer ink: Yes, printer ink is insanely expensive. I buy ink either from Amazon or eBay and I’ve been pretty happy with the prices: they’re definitely cheaper than the big office supply stores. Also, many ink suppliers now offer “deluxe” print cartridges that supposedly last much longer: I just bought my first deluxe cartridge, so I’ll let you know if that’s true or a waste of money! A final tip: make sure to choose the “gray scale” option when printing anything you don’t need in color, and select “fast draft” to print pretty much everything that doesn’t require extremely deep color. Fast draft is my default setting and I find it works for almost everything I print, and saves a ton of ink.
Disclosure: UPrint compensated me for mentioning their printing services in this post. However, all opinions are solely mine, and I only recommend products that I use myself and truly believe are a worthwhile investment for educators.
Have you made classroom materials using an online printing service or the special types of paper featured here? Share your ideas in the comments!