Monday, August 15, 2011
Homeschool Money Saver: Make Your Own Notebooks
Frugal Homeschooling: Making your own books, notebooks, and notepads is easy! Here are some ideas and links to easy notebook making projects that are fun for the kids as well. It's a fun "getting back into homeschooling" project to start your school year off in a fun way that will encourage reluctant writers. I started doing this because I love office supplies! Letting me anywhere near an Office Depot or Staples is a dangerous where my bank account is concerned. Geekling has inherited this trait, he loves notebooks, Post It notes, index cards, and Sharpies. So to save money, make Geekling want to write and so we can have custom notebooks and notepads for different purposes, we've started making our own!
My favorite method is to use large index cards and "book rings." You can get 100 book rings for under $9.00, so this is a great option for large families or kids that go through notebooks quickly. The Index Cards can either be the cover, back, dividers, and reference pages, or for durability, used for every page. We do both, using half sheets of construction paper or index cards depending on how much it will be used and dragged around. If you're planning to use construction paper, make sure your printer can accommodate the size. I like to use 8 1/2" x 11" (standard notebook or printer paper size) to make it easier to print and format.
If you can't picture this in your head here is a DIY Journal made with index cards, library pockets, and the like. http://www.make-paper-crafts.com/journal-writing.html
I also like using this method because I can glue a post card to the cover to make it beautiful or let Geekling design his own cover using collage or drawing a cover relevant to the subject matter for which we'll be using it. For small notebook and notepads, use paint swatch cards from your local home improvement store as covers or dividers. Try using colorful contact paper as a cover or cut a gift bag, wrapping paper, gift tag, etc. to size. Reuse paper that has only been printed or written on on one side by folding it in half and running a glue stick around the inside edges. This will give you thicker, more durable pages and keep some extra paper out of the landfill. Also save those large advertising post cards for sturdy covers or dividers. Your imagination is the only limit.
The easiest way to make your own notebook (besides just using a binder), is to remove the pages from an old day planner and punch holes in index cards or paper you've cut to size. Check your local dollar store for day planners and journals with removable pages that are about to be out of date.
Adding custom content:
I also like to add reference material as dividers and in the back of the book. If we're learning state capitals, I will print a map and list of states and capitals on index cards. You can add multiplication tables, the periodic table, spelling lists, grammar rules, and an emergency contacts list. Just take a look at the back pages of a day planner for inspiration. The kids can help you make fun facts lists, you can add trivia, world records, story starters, and more.
If you have weekly spelling and vocabulary lists, print or write them on index cards and keep them in a "book" for reference. Use index card dividers to allow your child to make his or her own dictionary of spelling words. Keep it with you when reading so they can make cards for words they need to look up.
This is a fun way to make flip books of nature drawings and the facts your children have learned about them (sort of like mini-notebooking). They can use it as reference later, or make books for their younger siblings.
If you want the cover to be a daily checklist of things the kids need to do, just use shiny tape on the front of an index card. I like to print lines and check boxes on the card first and I can write chore or assignment lists on the card with a dry erase marker.
If you don't have any book rings, simply use a large binder clip until you get some.
Here are some links for inspiration:
This is meant to be a recipe book, but you can use it for anything!
This is a very cute idea using the wide ruled dotted mid line early elementary paper. Ignore the "corner rounder" and more complex parts of this unless you're a scrapbooker that has the tools mentioned. Just simplify, and use whatever tools you have.