First, I've shared before how fun Confessions of a Homeschooler is, but I don't know if I've written specifically about her letter "curriculum." (We call them letter activities :-D). You can download each letter individually for FREE or you can buy them all at once via download for $10 or they'll send you a CD with everything for $16 (buying the files does come with some extras, but you aren't missing much). So, you start there, downloading the letters one way or another.
Then?? Well, my old Cannon Printer did about 1 letter per cartridge and it cost me about $52 to buy both a black and color cartridge. Yah, I ended up buying some on Amazon that saved me a little, but it was still A LOT of money for these things (and yet cheaper than having them printed in color at the local Staples..... the only place that we have available for printing in town). Thankfully that printer died (unfortunately as my husband was trying to print out a talk for church!), and we were in the market for a new one. Mr. Wonderful wanted us to get a laser printer since he too didn't care for the money we spent on cartridges, but after a week of researching EVERYTHING and finding mixed reviews on EVERYTHING, I was stuck. I finally made a leap and we bought an HP 8500 A Office Jet Pro. Staples even offers a discount if you bring them your old printer, working or not.
This puppy duplexes printing (there's one that even duplexes copies, but that wasn't worth the extra money for us especially since most of our printing comes straight from the computer), scans, faxes, is wireless, AND -THE CARTRIDGES ARE CHEAP AND PUT OUT AS MANY COPIES AS MOST LASER PRINTERS BUT WITH INKJET QUALITY. Simply put, it's amazing! The upfront cost is way cheaper than a laser printer and the upkeep is way cheaper for the same amount of work. I've done SEVERAL letter activities as well as printed out whole Discover the Scriptures curriculums, plus a ton of other things and I've only changed out the cartridges once, and they weren't even full to begin with. Don't waste money! This is the printer you want, promise!
Then, how to protect them? I picked up a Scotch Thermal Laminator at Walmart for around $25 a couple years ago and it's worked like a champ. The only trouble I ever had was buying the pouches for it, because at Walmart buying 50 will cost you about $13. Thankfully my fellow homeschooling buddy sent me a website where you can buy the pouches for a fraction of the price. My trip to laminator.com had me so excited. They have a buy 2 get one 1 free sale going on, and their boxes come with 100 pouches.... I bought 4 :-).
I guess the only other thing I can offer you is a time saver. Buy yourself a cheap straight-edge craft cutter from Walmart and you'll save yourself a lot of cutting. Works great even through the lamination.
Oh! My last tip is for storage. I use the cheap ziploc's (Great Value brand), and put different activity pieces in there. Then I put them in a nifty crate (they come in LOTS of colors!) with a hanging file folder for each letter and viola! Everything has a home and is easily accessed. The kiddies LOVE these activities. They're definitely worth having around whether you homeschool or are just looking for something fun to supplement with at home!