There is a great laminate debate between “true” Montessorians and those of us that feel the need to plasticize our manipulatives. While I see the point that things that are laminated take much longer to decompose in landfills, I think that re-making the same manipulatives over and over is a waste of my limited resources. I can’t afford to keep printing these beautiful, colorful, engaging activities only to have them ruined in a week or two’s time due to my 90 students handling them. Grease and grime, turns out middle schoolers’ hands are gross, make the task cards and sorts look dingy and then none of the students want to use them. There is something else to be said about being able to get them clean before putting them away for the next year.
There is also the reality that time is a limited resource. I teach Language Arts, which means grading lengthy stories and essays. I really am trying to make a conscious effort to spend less time working and more time with my family and actually taking time for myself to do fun projects, this also means having fewer things to create, saves me time. You can see some of my various projects on the desk. lol
To keep my landfill contributions down, I try to print my cards using as much of a sheet as possible so that there is very little waste from trimming. I store my cards and sorts to be used another year so that I don’t need to recreate them.
The favorite laminator used by teachers at my school is this Scotch Thermal Laminator that I purchased at Target for $16.99 before school started. Currently, they are $19.99, which is still fairly reasonable. I have one for home and another at school so that I don’t have to haul it around anymore. You never know when some last minute laminating needs to be done! One of the few things I shop at Walmart for is the laminating pouches. You can get 100 ct boxes for $17.99, and I go through plenty right now so that is a good deal for me.
While I am generally fairly environmentally friendly, I do believe laminating to be a necessary evil for right now. By limiting waste and saving them for future use, I believe that I am being as environment conscious as I can. I am looking forward to a time when ALL my manipulatives are already made and I can just pull them out to use instead of creating them.