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Following are ways to incorporate rubber stamp activities into your existing curriculum. These are some of the ideas that have been presented at many educational programs including state and regional reading conferences, state and regional early childhood conferences, and local K-12's. Thank you and have fun!

Rubber Stamps -- An Overview

Rubber-stamping is a natural activity for use in your classroom because it allows children the opportunity to be creative with one more manipulative. Rubber stamps are available with an almost endless array of images, so it is possible for you to customize projects that reflect the demands of the curriculum or portfolio. Stamps are easy to use so they work well in centers or other self-guided activities.

With very little care your stamps will last the length of your teaching career. Here are a few rubber stamp basics:

  • Rubber is a natural product. Store your rubber stamps away from heat and out of direct sunlight or they will dry and crack.
     

  • In the classroom, always use washable stamp pads. This makes cleanup easy: simply tap-tap-tap the stamp onto a cloth that is wet with water. If your stamps have become very dirty, use a solution of ½ water and ½ window cleaner. Be sure to use non-alcohol window cleaner, as alcohol will dry out your stamp. If you have lots of ground-in ink, moisten the stamp on the cleaning solution and scrub gently with a baby toothbrush. Never soak your stamps as that will cause the stamp to pull away from the backing!
     

  • There are two kinds of stamps, wood-mount and soft-handle. Rubber stamp purists prefer the artistic look and feel of the wood mounts, however, soft-handles work well in the classroom, and when you think about it, small stamps work well in small hands! Both kinds of stamps begin the same way, with a sheet of vulcanized rubber. With soft-handle, the square sheet is mounted directly onto a block of dense foam, and then it is either die-cut or cut with a saw in square or rectangular shapes. Peel and stick labels are added to the top of the handle by the buyer. With wood handles the rubber is mounted to a cushion backing and hand-cut so the rubber matches the shape of the image. It is then mounted to a block of wood and a clear label is attached to the top by the manufacturer. It is the amount of time it takes the manufacturer to hand-cut the rubber and the higher cost of wood which makes the wood handled stamps cost more at the checkout counter.
     

  • If the label comes off your soft-handled stamp you can make a new one by stamping the image onto a peel-and-stick label (a file-folder label or one of those "Hello My Name Is" labels). Cut it out and stick it to the top of the stamp. Easy!
     

  • To help keep track of your stamps, stamp all the images on a large sheet of paper, laminate the sheet, then place it in the bottom of a cookie sheet or in the bottom of the box you are using to store your stamps. This will give your students a wind-down "puzzle" activity, as they clean and match stamps to be put away. It also lets you know if any stamps are missing. If one turns up lost you say, "The dolphin is missing. Who can help find the dolphin?" Invariably the dolphin will leap out of his hiding place to be put back on the tray. Always teach your students that stamping is a three-step process

    1. Stamp on the pad.

    2. Stamp on the paper.

    3. Stamp on a moist cloth.

     

  • This way your stamps will stay clean, so students can go from one color stamp pad to another without turning all your orange stamp pads brown. It also keeps your stamps fresh for the next use. Some teachers like to use alcohol-free baby wipes, I prefer to use and reuse old rags.
     

  • To make your stamp projects more colorful you can either have the students stamp in one color and fill in the outline with colored pencils, or you can use water-based magic markers, applying the color directly onto the stamp itself, using as many different colors as the size of the stamp will allow. If you are working with a larger stamp, be sure to refresh the ink by "huffing" onto the stamp before you stamp the image on the sheet of paper. I like to use lighter colors first, so that when the colors "meet" on the stamp, I don't dirty the tips of the lighter colored pens with the darker colored ink. There are markers made specifically to be used with rubber stamps, but you may find some of the ones your students bring to school work just fine. You'll need to experiment a bit to find the moister inks.
     

  • You can always add embellishments to your stamped projects by using a little glue and glitter. Don't be afraid to cut the students lose with the stamps, you'll be surprised with what they come up with.