Tips for Laminating Pelmanism Sets

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First off, I’m really sorry if this article seems to be stating the obvious. Maybe I’m just a bit thick; You see, I learnt a number of these things the hard way! And given that making these little cards can easily eat up a LOT of your time, I’ve decided to spell it out step-by-step.


You should ONLY make flashcards of things you know you can
use and re-use often! Or for special events that you know
will be worth the extra effort. Really.

If you’re not sure what Pelmanism is, please read my article What is Pelmanism? first.

1. Print out your cards and then cut out the main blocks (i.e. not individually; around the outermost border)

2. Turn on the laminator now; they take forever to warm up.

3. Stick them onto coloured paper. You only need a quick swipe of the glue stick through each box. They don’t need to have all the corners stuck down; remember you’ll be laminating them in a minute.

Also, the trick here is to have different coloured paper for each set of cards you want to make. So, for example, if you want 4 sets of cards, you’ll need, say, a green, pink, yellow and blue sheet of backing paper.

There are two reasons for this:

(i) It makes it much, much easier to keep the sets together. If you don’t do this then you will end up with the cards being all mixed up and you will spend a ridiculous amount of time preparing the next lesson because you’ll have to go through and make sure each set only has two of each card! With colours, you just count that you have the required number of cards and hey presto ready to roll!

(ii) The other reason is that without the backing sheet (which you can also do with white paper; just put a coloured spot in one corner of each card with a marker before you laminate them) is that you can see through single-layer cards when you lay them out on the tables! Which kind of defeats the purpose of playing the pelmanism game.

4. Cut out your cards individually at THIS step.

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5. Find something rigid. A clipboard or folder is good. Put your laminating pouch on this ready to load your individual cards.

Now, what’s this all about? Well, this will make it easier to move your laminating pouch with your pelmanism cards in it to the laminator without it all going pear-shaped. It will also give you something to butt up against the laminator’s “feed platform” (like I know what it’s called!) so that you can feed your pouch through without the cards going everywhere—It’s too late once the machine is in motion! (Yep, I’ve done that one!)

One final precaution to help avoid the cards going everywhere and your having to start again: Take your glue stick and give the back of each card a quick dab as you lay them out in a grid (in the laminating pouch). Make sure it’s not that stupid purple glue stick because it won’t become transparent like it claims to do! So you’ll end up with these horrible purple smudges on the backs of your cards (which not only looks ugly, it again defeats the purpose of the game!).

6. Use the edge of the clipboard to keep your cards lined up so that they have more or less the same margins. Remember that the space you need between cards is double what you want the margin to be! So, for example, each card need a few millimetres space for the laminating to seal correctly. So… you’ll need to leave double that space so that both cards (i.e. to the left and the right, above and below) get a good seal.

7. Once you’ve fed your pouch into the machine, don’t let it just roll out the other side and flop down otherwise your cards will be permanently bowed—again not so good for pelmanism because students can then see under them and/or tell the difference! So lay the laminated sheets out flat ASAP. (Be careful if it’s your first time using a laminating machine; they can be REALLY hot!)

8. Cut them up and give them approximately the same margins. As you do this, make sure that you also round the edges of each card. This is really important when you work with little kids because… there’s always some boy (yes, a boy; no, almost never a girl) who wants to flick the cards at another kid. And if you’ve never made laminated sets of cards before for class, you won’t appreciate just how sharp they can be on the corners. No, really. Eyes are very easily damaged. Round the corners!

9. Get some of those magnetized sheets which sort of feel like linoleum and which you can cut with scissors. I also see it from time to time in rolls rather than sheets. Just cut off a small chunk and attach with scotch tape (you actually need much less than you originally think! Test whether it will stay on the whiteboard/blackboard by throwing it on the door of your fridge!).

10. Put elastic bands around each set, put them in a large envelope along with your set of larger Teacher’s flashcards and label the envelope. Put the envelope in an alphabetically arranged filing system of other flashcard envelopes (I just use a box and I prefer to file the envelopes by title of lesson or subject area).

That’s it!

As I said at the outset, a lot of these steps might seem really, really obvious, but they’re only obvious in retrospect or once you’ve omitted them a couple of times and had to throw your efforts in the bin!

And as for the filing system, trust me! This will save you time once you start to build up a large set of resources and need to be able to lay your hands on a particular set of cards. I couldn’t count the number of times someone has called in late or sick and my Director of Studies has asked me to cover a class, like “Now!”

With your favourite games all nicely filed you should be able to select one or two envelopes and be off to class, ready to give a perfectly educational and fun lesson at the drop of a hat!

Best of luck with it!

P.S. I highly, highly recommend the bit about the box filing system (I actually use a large shoe-box!). It really will keep things in order and save you a lot of headache.

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5 Responses to “Tips for Laminating Pelmanism Sets”

  1. Kimberly Kimberly says:

    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! I was going INSANE this morning trying to laminate playing pieces for a preschool age file folder game. Your tip about the dab of glue stick on the back of each piece saved me from bursting into tears of frustration. Thank you! :grin:

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    •  Leslie says:

      You’re most welcome.

      Wouldn’t want the teacher crying along with those little tikes, now would we!

      Hope it all went well.

      Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  2. Kevin Kevin says:

    Great tips and instructions :!: Thanks^^

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. Tiger Tiger says:

    Good advice but I have a few comments and questions.

    When I am putting the cards into the laminating sheets, I place another sheet of paper under the laminating sheet. This sheet has a printed grid which helps me line up the cards with more equal spacing.

    My experience is that if I use top quality laminating sheets, I don't have to glue the cards to the sheets. The sheets themselves are slightly adhesive but without glue, i.e. the plastic holds on to the card itself.

    Magnetized sheets: have you tried very thin but powerful sheets which you could insert into the laminated card?

    Cutting up the laminated cards: I always find this is the hardest task. I use laminated domino cards and it's essential that every card is the same size. I could use a whiteboard pen to mark cutting lines but that's really too time-consuming. What techniques have you used to get identical-size cards?

    Many thanks for your tips!

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    •  Leslie says:

      Hi, Tiger

      (I've always wanted to say that! ;) )

      Good tips. Thanks very much for sharing.

      You're definitely right about the better quality sleeves; the paper does kind of "stick" to them more.

      I like the idea of using a backing grid. I could see that working, but then it presents the problem you mention at the end of your comment: How do you get them to all be the same size when it's time to cut them up?

      I'm not sure I have a solution for that, I'm afraid. Although, if I think of one, I'll come back and add another comment.

      Maybe someone else can think of how to solve that and will be kind enough to share.

      Re: magnets. No, I haven't tried including them in the laminating process. I think it would cause more headaches than it would be worth.

      What I do, instead, is just cut a short piece of magnet off the roll and sticky-tape it to the back of the flashcard or whatever it is. That usually seems to work and only takes a few seconds.

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