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10 Ways to Washi in the Classroom

By Meghan Everette on January 16, 2014
  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

Last year I picked up some washi tape at the craft store, not really knowing at the time what I’d do with it. Washi tape is a Japanese paper tape, similar in weight to highlighter tape, but without the plastic coating. It holds (better than highlighter tape, in my opinion) and yet pulls off cleanly. It is easy to tear, so there is no need for a dispenser. You can write on the paper surface with a pencil, pen, or marker. Washi tape is affordable too; I’ve picked up sale rolls for as little as fifty cents. Once you have this cool, patterned tape, what will you do with it? Here are 10 fun classroom uses to get you started.

Washi tape border

1. Border

Add washi tape to any plain paper project and you have a cute, repositionable boarder. You don’t have to mount work first and the tape is easy to take off (think of a painter’s tape-type hold). Add pizzazz, find a tape that matches your theme, or just make note pages look more special. You can also layer washi over border you already have for a better bulletin board without buying all new Bordette.


Dated washi tape

2. Date Stamp

Used in student journaling, work samples, or your own date book, washi tape rolls come preprinted with a variety of fun fill-in-the-blanks. I have a date roll I use in my teacher notebook I tote to all meetings. My students are forever excited about dating their work when they have the washi tape out.


Decorative cabinet with washi tape

3. Decorate in Style

Because washi tape comes in colors and patterns for each season, it makes a perfect simple decorative accessory. I lined my cabinets with peppermint stripes for the holidays and it pulled off cleanly in seconds when I was over it. If you have rules about what you can tack to the walls, washi tape may be the perfect answer. A little washi on the end of pushpins adds a decorative note. Folding the tape on a piece of thread and making bunting, or just taping notes to your board can make a coordinated room pop.


Math tool labels with washi tape

4. Student Labeling

You can write on washi tape, even with pencils, so it makes an easy labeling tool for students to use. Have kids label the parts of a microscope, a diorama, or math tools. Even kindergarteners can control and tear the tape and the removability makes temporary labeling possible. Students can label, turn in work while the labels stick, and then easily remove labels for the next class.


Washi labels on chairs

5. Teacher Labeling

Labeling with washi tape means you won’t be peeling white goo off every container when you want to reuse it. You can label chairs for a game, label the desks, or assign computers without permanent sticking or mid-use peeling. Adding tape to teacher editions or personal books makes them easily identifiable, but you can peel off easily if you ever change classrooms.


Washi tape lids

6. Impromptu Lids

For science experiments needing dark, gifts made for mom, or just to prevent spilling, washi tape can be an easy impromptu lid. Lay strips across a cup and fold or cut edges. Crisscross patterns for a more appealing design.

Washi tape on cords and chargers

7. Electric Organizing

Washi tape on the ends of cords or around chargers can help identify which cord goes where. Much easier to handle than electrical tape, you can wrap cords together, suspend tape from the wall, or flag each student’s belongings.


Washi tape on pattern blocks

8. Pattern Block Suspension Pattern blocks stuck together


Pattern blocks and similar math tools can be frustrating to move around the room or save for later. Simply stick washi tape to the back and the design can travel easily to the document camera, another table, or be saved for later. Put student work on display easily and untape without leftover goo when the work is done.

Washi tape for math measurement

9. Measurement

Washi tape is the perfect solution for measuring. Students can lay the tape on a page to represent what they measured and write on top to show how they measured length. The tape is repositionable if they mess up and is easier to use than lengths of string that we typically use in math measurement. Tip: I would not use the sectioned tape like the one pictured, but a single-color tape instead. The patterns can throw off measurement for young students unless they are even sections.


Washi tape pencils

10. Pencil Power

Washi tape can make pencils cute with little flag ends or wrapped around the entire base. Let students pick and wrap their own as a special prize. Because the tape is made from paper, it can go in a pencil sharpener without destroying the design or the mechanics.



Where to WashiWashi math voting

Washi tape is available in craft stores and most major retailers. Check the scrapbook isle for your best bets, but the tape is also becoming a popular addition to wrapping. Sales after the holidays are great times to find holiday patterns, but also plain colors like gold and silver. Be sure to check the yardage to make sure you are getting the best deal.

Digital Washi

Digital washi is becoming popular with many designers and bloggers. A quick Pinterest search for free digital downloads yields tons of tape samples that can be used in digital designing.


Even More WashiWashi tape signature line

The ideas for using washi in the classroom, and your home are endless. Make a cute pumpkin, label party cups, add bunting to cupcakes, or upscale your notetaking.

What other ways have you used decorative tape in your class?


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Comments (8)

I don't think there's a whole island devoted to scrapbooking. How about the scrapbooking *aisle*?

Where to Washi

Washi tape is available in craft stores and most major retailers. Check the scrapbook isle for your best bets,

Where does one buy the Washi??

It's really available in a lot of places. Superstores like Target and Walmart are now carrying a version by 3M in the pens/pencil isle. Just be careful you get the washi and not the decorative tape (very different). Check craft sores like Michael's or Hobby Lobby in the scrapbooking area. Both superstores and craft stores have Smash book areas that carry it too. Right after the holidays, check in the wrapping/holiday stuff. Most stores are now carrying washi in the decorative wrapping each holiday. Sometimes the kids craft areas carry it as well. It may be called "paper tape" but that's the same thing!

I will say, fellow blogger Alycia said that she only found rolls for $5 or $6 each in the Brooklyn area. Now maybe that's just big-city prices, but I can get rolls under $3 regularly, and clearance rolls for under a dollar. You just have to keep an eye out!

Good luck!

I love Washi tape, but I've been using masking tape for years for these same purposes… just sayin'.

I just don't like the junk that masking tape can leave behind. Washi seems to be less likely to get gooey. I live in the South and when they turn the air conditioner off over the weekends, masking tape gets seriously sticky!

I think my classroom pencil issues have been solved! Washi tape with their names. Awesome

I'm in love! I think I just met my new best friend. I LOVE that you can move this stuff around. Thanks so much for introducing me to washi tape!

Thanks, Dean! I'm glad I could introduce you! It's the best!

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