If your child is like mine, he probably has papers that he treasures against all reason. For my son, it's a couple of computer-printed-out photos of his class at school, which he stares at and fondles and cherishes until they fray and fade and all but decompose.
The best we could do was scan the tattered remnants and print out dim replicas ... until we bought a small home laminator. Now, we can protect those intensely loved images with a coat of glistening plastic, and when he picks apart the corners of the laminate so they start to tear? We run it through the machine again.
You may think of laminators in terms of those enormous things in the back room of school libraries, the ones that look like they could suck a small child into their melted plastic rollers, and smell like they're burning the building down. But home-use laminators are much less scary. We got ours for about $100 at Staples, and it's a little smaller than a shoebox. We also bought plastic sleeves in a couple of different sizes. The photo to be preserved goes into the plastic sleeve, then into a paper sleeve to keep it from sticking to the machine. The paper sleeve gets fed into the machine, and after it comes out the other side, set aside to cool for a few minutes. Open the paper sleeve and -- there it is! Paper, plastically preserved for another long period of loving.
We've found a number of other uses for our plastic-melting pal. My son is obsessed with ID badges, so I make some up with cartoon-character faces, print them on the computer, and we use a badge-sized plastic sleeve to make them stiff, official-looking, and fun to play with. We also laminated a school project that called for making a book with different pictures affixed to paper. No worries now about those paper tack-ons falling off, since they're trapped beneath plastic.
When you put your mind to it, there are a lot of uses for lamination in a special-needs household. Use it to make:
- Write-on, wipe-off behavior charts
- A babysitter guide you can add erasable comments to
- Customized placemats
- Social story books
- Game boards and tokens
- A posted list of household rules
- Medication schedule
- Reusable worksheets for math problems or letter-writing practice
- Durable flashcards
- Sturdy bookmarks
- A check-off morning agenda