The other day, I was over at a friend's house for a playdate and I noticed that she had labeled many household items to encourage her budding reader. It reminded me of a couple of years ago when Max started reading and our house was also covered in tape and index cards. But as I began taping up cards for Leo, littlest pumpkin Will followed behind me, collecting the cards as fast as I could put them up. Or worse, he would move them and I wouldn't notice until I heard Max saying, "mom, why is the 'door' labeled 'potty'?"
I needed a new plan. I didn't love the index cards anyways--with three boys, you can probably guess how yucked up they got. But unless you also have three boys--and incidentally, if you do, could we please start a group or something?--you probably don't know how fast they got yucked up. Well, it's fast. Like, by dinnertime the day I put them up fast. And I also didn't like how messy they all looked, flapping about. But that's probably just at my house due to the constant wind tunnel from the racing track an open floor plan apparently encourages. Don't get me started.
In a perfect world, I wanted to print on something because my hand writing would in no way encourage reading--squinting, yes; reading, no. I also wanted labels that would stay up, be wipeable, removable, and repositionable. Yes, I ask for a lot. I had some vinyl and tried to print on it, but four paper jams later I discovered that the ink never completely dries on it. Smear city was less than ideal.
Eventually, I did just hand write the words, but I traced a nice font. I then topped it with more vinyl for extra durability. I trimmed them down and played a game with the older boys: they drew a label, had to read it, then stuck them up.
They stick everywhere and stay put, even on a porcelain sink. And yet they are removeable without any residue. And you can wipe right over them. And if a little munchkin happens to pull them up, they go right back as they are repositionable. Nice.
Clear/transparent vinyl (I used clear Con-Tact paper)
Print-out of words in an easy-to-read font (unless you have nice penmanship, in which case I'm jealous)
Permanent marker/paint marker in dark and light (use the light color for labels for dark furniture)
Decide what items you want to label and print out your words.
Top your word sheet with your vinyl, leaving the backing on, and trace your words, using a dark or light marker.
Top you labels with another sheet of vinyl.
I like to trim close to the lettering to make the label less obvious. Peel the backing and label away!
I also like to use the labels to encourage sorting, e.g. clothing labels for drawers or toy labels on bins. And for our youngest, I draw pictures instead of words. Let me know if you give it a go.