I loved the idea.
And hated it.
Spiral books are so... final! I can't add to them through the year or move things around. I was intimidated enough by the idea of learning a new curriculum, let alone putting a year's worth of pages into a notebook! So I opted to use binders last year. And if you've read my previous posts you might remember that I dislike big, klunky binders. I wanted the spiral bound book, but I wanted the freedom to move things and add things as I saw the need. So I took my first year in TOG to just get my feet wet, get used to the set up, print pages as I needed them, and let it all slowly sink in. Now that I have that year under my belt I can see better how I want our 2nd year of TOG to work.
If you've read my previous blog post (A Place for Everything Part 3) you have seen my discbound planner for this school year. While investigating the discbound system it hit me, why not make the TOG notebooks with this same system?? Genius! And, it was a great justification for buying the special hole punch! Win-Win!
It did take me several hours and cartridges of ink to get the notebooks printed. But I'm SO excited that I will not have to print a handful of pages each week, hole punch them each week, put them in a bulky binder each week, you get the idea. Instead, the pages are all prepared and ready for our 2014/2015 school year!
I didn't buy covers. Instead I just purchased the discs, blue for my youngest and black for my oldest. I did order the folder page that I showed you in my planner (part 3). I had assumed I'd use some sort of plastic or card stock to make a cover, but this is working!
You can see that I have colorful dividers, and one of them is the front cover. Red for my oldest, blue for my youngest. Since the dividers are transparent, you can see the cover page through it. We all liked the look of this! I purchased all the dividers from the Dollar Tree. I bought 10 packages that had 8 dividers each. Each boy needed 36 for the 36 weeks, plus one more for the front cover. I then used my label maker to put the numbers of each week on the dividers. The little cardstock that slides inside these tabs often falls out. So I decided to label with the label maker instead.
I printed each of the TOG unit cover pages, I thought it made a nice looking cover and also shows us where each new unit begins. Behind the cover page I printed a page with their name, grade, and school year on it. This way, when I store these notebooks, I know what year they were completed.
I made my own month-at-a-glance pages for the boys, these are identical to the pages in my planner. Only less colorful, of course. They can fill in the blanks with these and will be able to use it as a planner.
Each divider reveals one of the thirty-six weeks in our TOG year. I have the Student Activity Pages for their level (Dialectic for my oldest, and Upper Grammar for my youngest.) Behind the SAP's I have the appropriate map from TOG's Map Aids CD.
I wanted to have blank paper in each week so that my boys could write answers to the questions in the SAP. But the binder was already pretty full and I was afraid one or two pages per week in addition to what was already in there would be too much. So, I have a red spiral and a blue spiral notebook for the boys. They'll keep their spiral with their TOG binder and write their answers in the spiral.
Then I needed a place to store their binders. Isn't homeschool organizing always an issue? You need room to have school supplies and yet you need a home to live in. So I cut up boxes and covered them in contact paper. We made our own 'magazine holders'. I priced several in the stores and they were way out of my budget. These work perfectly! Then I labeled on for files. I put file folders in here and will use that to keep papers sorted through the year. One is for "Mom" where I hold my planner, bullet journal, and a handful of other items. One is for my oldest and one for my youngest (I covered their names in this photo with orange papers, just FYI). This holds their TOG planner, their spiral notebook, and a few miscellaneous small books. And one actually IS a magazine holder, I subscribe to The Homeschool Enrichment magazine and didn't want to see them stacking up on the table. So now our notebooks have a home for the entire year where they won't be misplaced or damaged. And my shelf (which is in my dining room) doesn't look chaotic. Win-Win!
This is another angle of the covered box. Super easy to make and much less money than buying new ones in office stores!
These binders are not difficult to make, they are customizable, they are cost effective, and they are very easy to use. Anyone can do this! The only downside is the day or two you spend printing. But it's that or print pages all year. To me, it was worth the time to prepare in advance this year. But who knows, maybe I'll have a whole new idea for year 3.
How do you organize your school year for your kids? Do you have student planners? Feel free to leave a comment below, I'd love to see!!
Don't forget to check out
A Place for Everything Part 1
A Place for Everything Part 2
A Place for Everything Part 3
A Place for Everything Part 5