When I was first placed in a school without a defined English curriculum, I searched every inch of my newly assigned desks and materials shelf. I found a large pack of stickers and for several years, those were my favorite reward for kids who won games in class or raised their hands to answer questions. But, it got expensive. So, this year, I modified my reward system. Now, kids who participate in class get themed stamps from me. It’s only been a month and a half but it’s been a wild success.
I didn’t stumble onto this whole stamp card thing quickly or on my own. It took several years of people giving me teacher stamps as teacher presents for Christmas before I started to take them seriously as an educational tool. And then I took my sweet time to realize how many class subjects the kids already had stamp cards for. Kids have a stamp card to quantify their private reading time. They have a stamp card for PE participation. Some classes even have a stamp based poster to track performance on kanji tests!
When I ran out of stickers during a game at one school a year ago, I thought to stamp their textbooks instead. Here, kid who won bingo. Have a gold star! Since some home room teachers ban stickers altogether (because they’re allergic to joy) this whole stamp card thing seemed the best universal way to reward kids who stand out in English class without putting any kids down. I came up with the idea of a non sequential stamp card so that no matter how many or few stamps you got, you’d have something pretty to be proud of. It took a few days in Photoshop, but here’s inaugural year’s worth of themed participation stamp cards.
All stamp cards were rendered in Photoshop by me and printed by a mass copier on light card stock.
Both 5th and 6th grade have a ton more lessons than the younger classes and so I needed more space to work with. So, space! There’s plenty of white space on this stamp card and just about any star shape, sun shape, alien, or planet in any color works to fill it in. It’s been harder to track down planets than I’d hoped. But, I’m having fun with the aliens.
This card was made from the Earth clip art in the Hi! Friends flash card library and random bits found in Google image searches.
My 5th graders needed as much space as the 6th, but since they’re still young enough to be playful, I rendered a Zoo themed stamp card for them. This stamp card started life as a page in a dollar store sticker book, scanned and posted on this site, that I Photoshopped to the end of it’s life and rendered black and white. The sharks, penguins, and pandas are all Japanese stamps bought at the local book store. The kids are very worried about the poor penguins getting eaten by the sharks, though.
The fences and the general shape came from the sticker book, but the animals and tree are from the Hi! Friends flashcards.
Last year, I put together a bingo game worksheet based on the vocabulary from Eric Carle’s Very Hungry Caterpillar and rendered a table setting on the bottom of the worksheet to stamp fruits on for winners of the bingo game. It was so successful I went out of my way to try and render a food themed stamp card. The black on this page, unfortunately, doesn’t photo copy very well. But, the theme is easy to see even when it’s mangled by the copy machine. A set of fruit and tableware themed stamps from the store Flying Tiger Copenhagen has really rounded out this stamp card.
The tale and backdrop were poorly Photoshopped from a dollar store sticker book page, and the things on the table were all edited from the Hi! Friends flashcards. The plate and bowl initially had food in them, but I edited it out so that each could be filled with fruit and cake throughout various lessons.
Initially I had wanted to make the 3rd grade a beach setting and have the 2nd grade do a full on ocean scene, but it just didn’t look right in the end and so I rendered this for both. It’s very easy to find cute fish and other sea creatures for this theme and it could honestly be used for all grades. So far, the whale stamps have been good for lessons when everyone gets just one shot at a stamp, and the little fishes are good for lessons when each kid has more than one chance to get a stamp.
My final version of this stamp card has several textures and shapes, but not all the variation shows up when photocopied. The sky, especially, just seems to disappear on some rapid copy machines.
Last is my newest, and most original stamp card: The castle themed card for first graders. I intended for this card to have a Disney like feel and made it from scratch using Photoshop shapes and images from the Hi! Friends flashcards set. Initially, I thought I could find a lot of Disney characters to stamp into the scene, but official Disney stamps are really expensive so now it’s more of a free for all. So far frogs and butterflies work well. I’ll probably had birds and apples in the tree eventually. Maybe a few Disney characters can make their way in by winter. Gotta save my pennies and get an Olaf stamp!
What’s on the other side? I honestly didn’t break the bank on those. I took the three questions from a previous furikaeri/review card and put them into a pretty graphical setup.
But, some teachers needed more space and wanted their kids to write as well as check boxes about their lesson experience. So, I created cover art for a folder-style card.
It’s all a grand experiment, really. I’ll definitely make changes to all this in the future. The folder type cards are already holding up much better than the flat card types. And, I kind of want more writing space on the back for all grades. We’ll see.