French Stamping Ideas & Activities


Just popping in today to talk a bit about stamping in maternelle. My students LOVE using stamps! Variety is the spice of life, and stamping is a new and exciting way to make words.

Of course, stamping is not without its problems when you are doing it with a bunch of five year olds! The biggest problems I have come across so far when stamping with my students are: 

1. Making sure my students understand the correct way to use stamps and ink (ie. not for creating temporary tattoos or to help the local police station with fingerprinting),

2. Keeping our stamps ORGANIZED so that my students can find the letters they need right away, and not waste valuable time,

3.  Getting my students to use the stamps to make actual words, and not to just fill the page with as many random letters as possible.

I usually have stamping as an independent centre. This means that only some students are stamping at a time (usually two), and I am busy with another group and thus unavailable for direct supervision. So, if the aforementioned problems are happening, then stamping is not going to work out. Read on to see how I run the stamping centre in my classroom, and to hear my tips for keeping things running as smoothly as possible!

Problem #1: Following correct stamping procedure

As with anything in maternelle, teaching procedures and expectations has to happen first, before letting them loose. One thing that I find really helpful when introducing stamps is to give my students time to explore them and use them for fun, before expecting them to create words, patterns, or anything else academic.

Before I even introduce the idea of using alphabet stamps to make words, I make sure that everyone has the chance to just play with the stamps. I have a collection of outer space stamps from when I was little (yup!!) that I will usually put out first, along with the alphabet. Some students may choose to create a picture, some might stamp random letters all over the page, some may decide to write their names. The point is, they can create what they want!

During this time of creating what they want, I teach them how to use the stamps. We talk about placing one stamp at a time on the ink pad and wiggling it back and forth a little bit to cover the whole surface of the stamp with ink. We are careful not to let our fingers touch the ink pad. Then, we move the stamp to the paper and press down gently but firmly and lift it straight up.

I don't get them to wipe each stamp off because I only have one colour of ink out at a time, but that's up to you! I do teach them to put each stamp away before grabbing another. This mega saves on clean up time at the end of their rotation!

We talk about how many sheets of paper they are allowed to use (one) and where to put their paper when it's time to clean up.

After my students are masters of the stamping routine, then I will teach them how to make actual words (see number 3).

Problem #2: Keeping our stamps organized

When I first started teaching maternelle, I kept our alphabet stamps all jumbled together in one zip lock bag. Easy to keep "organized"... but very difficult to find the letters you need when you are 5 years old and barely even know your alphabet!

My students ended up wasting so much time looking for the letters they needed that sometimes they wouldn't have even completed one single word by the time their centre was over.

Now, I have a bunch of tackle boxes from the dollar store that I use. I use these for both stamps and magnetic letters, and they work great!!

As you can see in the picture, I just wrote the alphabet on some sticky labels and stuck them inside each compartment in ABC order. I've actually started just using Sharpie to write directly in each compartment because I hate peeling labels, and that words just as well!

Getting your students to put the letters away in the correct compartment (and even to look at the labels to find the correct letter) takes a LOT of mini lessons. But it's worth it!!!!

Side note - I can't 100% remember, but I THINK that my alphabet stamps are from Scholastic!

Problem #3: Actually practicing what I want them to practice

 Okay, so now that they have the procedure down... how do you get them to actually practice making real words, and not just stamp a random bunch of mumbo-jumbo??

When I first started teaching, I would provide my students with *sight word lists* or names/words from our word wall for them to copy over with stamps. This worked really well!

Now, I have actually created a variety of different worksheets that practice different skills to encourage them to practice even more things than just copying over letters.

These sheets allow students to fill in the sentence with a seasonal vocabulary word. There is a little bit of extra sight word practice while using these sheets, as students will fill in the blanks and read each sentence. If you don't have stamps, you could also just get them to write each word with special markers.

The following sheet is for stamping the beginning letter of each of the seasonal vocabulary words. I like these sheets because they force my students to think about the new vocabulary we have been discussing, focus in on the beginning sound of each word, and figure out which letter makes that sound.

The next sheets ask that students both stamp and write the word. This helps reinforce correct spelling and gives your students some extra handwriting practice.

The above examples come in a pack with a fourth option on TPT, where students will stamp a word, write a sentence containing the word, and then illustrate their sentence. This could be a great option for first grade, but I find it a bit tricky for my maternelle students to complete on their own!

All of those sheets come from my Tamponner le printemps resource on TPT. There is a set for each of the four seasons, plus a bundle that contains enough sheets to have you covered for the whole year!.

Another activity that my students love are Mystery Sight Words! To complete these stamping sheets, students will use the included référentiel to help them figure out the first letter of each picture clue. By stamping the first letter of each clue left to right, they will crack the code and discover the mystery sight word!

You can find these in my TPT store, too - RIGHT HERE!

Well, there you have it! My best tips & tricks for having your stamping centre run smoothly in your classroom. Please let me know in the comments if you have any other problems preventing you from giving stamps a try in your centre rotations!

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