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Student Work Mats

A few years ago, my school was almost doubled in size with a huge addition and renovation.  All the kindergarten and first grades got to move into brand new rooms!  We even got to choose our own furniture:)

So, first grade went old school and choose heavy wooden tables with the cutest little wooden chairs.  We love them because they are heavy and sturdy and they still have little cubbies for supplies like our old desks.  But like any table, we had to figure out what to do with the nameplates.  If they are taped down, every time you move a kid, it's a hassle and leaves all the sticky residue on the tabletop.

My team decided to make individual work mats for each kid.  We used our favorite nameplates and a piece of 12 x 18 construction paper.
 The nameplate is from Trend and can be found HERE.

 Secure the nameplate to the construction paper temporarily with a couple of pieces of tape.  We overlap the paper about 1/2 inch.

 Run the whole thing through the laminator and there you have it!

Now, when a kid needs to move, it's simple - they just grab their work mat and go!  This is great for temporary moves like group work, or a kid who needs a quiet, personal space for a short time.

The mat also gives a child a nice defined space to work.  This helps some of our more 'scattered' friends!

After several months, some of our work mats are a little battered.  I just cut the nameplate off, attach it to a new piece of construction paper, and laminate it again.

We have a high transiency rate at my school, so the class list that I have today will probably look much different on the first day of school.  While I want  to be oh-so-prepared and label everything, I am hesitant to do so because half of the labels will need to be changed by the second day of school.  I waffle between writing names on items before or after laminating.

If I laminate before, I have to make frequent changes.  If I laminate after names have been added, the names eventually rub off.  For the last couple of years, I have just waited to introduce the work mats until the second week of school.  Then my class roll is a little more stable. 

So what's your take on labeling and laminating?  Before or after?



  1. I love this idea - my kids sit at tables and personal space is a big issue.

    1. It really does help kids 'stay in their space' and I think they like having their own little area.

  2. Great idea! I'm featuring this post on Bagels and Blogs tomorrow.

    Math Coach’s Corner
    Math Coach’s Corner on FB

    1. Oooh - thank you! I love reading Bagels and Blogs on Sundays! (Sometimes I actually even have a bagel while I'm reading:) I'm so honored to be included!

  3. I love this idea, too! I have been battling all summer with what to do about name tags! Thanks to you, I have the perfect solution!

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  5. Re: printing names on the laminated versus non-laminated. Run the mats through the laminator FIRST. Next, use a PERMANENT Mr. Sharpie to print the names on the laminated mat. Don't worry - you can use rubbing alcohol to remove the permanent marker, and the kids can't rub off their names! Voila - ready to go for next year/student. Thanks for the great idea! We're using this in our class this year ;)

    1. Yes, that's what I have done most of the time - I love that trick! I keep rubbing alcohol in a little spray bottle just for that. But the kids still rub the names off even if it is written in Sharpie! Silly kids:)

    2. I find black Sharpies seem to stay on longer than colored ones. :) But since nameplates usually come in large packages anyways, I usually just make a new one for new children then cover them with clear contact paper. It doesn't leave any residue when peeled off. (except one kind I used one year was awful - you have to use the right kind, which is the kind of matte kind, not the shiny clear kind)

  6. I had tables when I taught k and hated my student desks when I moved to first. I got tables last year, but couldn't put name tags/ magnets/ velcro on my tables. I can't wait to try this out this year!!!