Lately I’ve noticed several homeschool moms sharing this amazing new thing – planning lessons using notebooks rather than charts or computer programs. I seriously didn’t know you all didn’t know about this. Way back when I was in school, my mom did the same thing. She got me steno pads to keep my assignments in. My Assignment Books. I guess I figured everyone’s mom did this.
Each day, I was to write down in the assignment book what I was given for homework and projects. Make a list. Tick it off as I finished. So simple that it’s genius! The idea for homeschoolers is that mom writes in the book what she wants each child to accomplish for the day. The child can check off or line through what he or she has completed as they finish each task.
Writing plans out by hand for several children can give you a hand cramp. BUT, if you’re assigning so much that your hand is cramping, you’re either expecting too much, or you have a really large family and need to enlist Papa to help write up the lists. 🙂 I feel like teenagers should be collaborating on their assignments and helping to fill in their own books, but that’s my style.
A plain old notebook may revolutionize your homeschool. It’s simple, it’s elegant. OK. It’s not elegant. Those notebooks are UGLY. And if you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I adore Pretty. So I thought I would show all of the new Assignment Book enthusiasts how to make pretty ones. It’s really easy. The first one might take you 10 or 15 minutes, but after that, you’ll get them done in under five minutes. You remember how fast you could cover a book with a shopping bag, right? Like that.
Here’s what you need:
- Spiral bound notebooks (I like the steno pads for their size, columns, and for nostalgia. You use whatever you like)
- Decorative cardstock (or recycle cereal or cracker boxes)
- Scissors or Xacto knife (cutting mat for the latter)
- Needle-nose pliers (jewelry ones are ideal, but regular ones will do)
- Binder clips and trombone paper clips
- Micro-punch or awl
And here’s how you do it: (It seriously took me longer to type it out than it will take you to make a pile of them).
Place two binder clips on either edge of your notebook. This holds all of the papers in place and keeps the holes aligned. You don’t need to bind the top cover in with the inner sheets.
Next, using your pliers, carefully unhook each end of the coil and straighten the right-hand hook out so that it will slide through the holes without catching. Then simply unscrew the wire. The first turn will be a little tricky as you will need to keep the other ‘hook’ free of the book.
Now, using the original cover as a template, cut out a piece of cardstock.
Paper clip your original and new covers together so they don’t slip. Transfer marking for the holes from the original cover onto the cardstock, using a soft pencil.
Carefully punch holes through the card stock. I couldn’t find my micropunch. It must still be packed away. So I used my bookbinding awl. It worked a treat.
Place the new cover on the stack of papers and back cover. Use binder clips to hold everything in place. adjust everything so the the holes line up nicely. You may want to use your awl to neaten up or enlarge the holes now.
Screw the wire back in. Watch the way the wire wants to go. Most of mine needed to start in the back at the far right of the book. One or two needed to either start in the front, or begin on the left-hand side. Be careful to gently guide the leading end into each hole. It should go fairly quickly and easily.
Be sure to bend a new ‘hook’ in the leading edge and to hook each end of the wire around the adjacent loop. This prevents snagging.
If you’re feeling particularly fancy, you can hand-letter little name tags to glue on each child’s Assignment Book. Carrie was happy to get some more calligraphy practice.
Her tags made the books so special.
Now, if you want to make your own notebooks from scratch (because you’re a compulsive crafty mama like me), I’ve got this pretty template for you. Here’s what to do:
- Print 20 copies on nice paper (per Assignment Book)
- Cut them in half
- Make a front and back cover. The back one can be made from a piece of bristol board or the back of a used drawing pad (save those!).
- Mark the holes (about 1/4″ from the top edge, evenly spaced), do the cover first and then use that as the template for the rest of the pages.
- Punch holes using a micro punch or awl. You can probably punch four pages at a time without too much trouble. But hold them securely with clips so they don’t slide around.
- Stack your covers and pages together with the holes lined up neatly. Secure with binder clips.
- Wrap a piece of 20 gauge wire (or 18 or 16) around a fat magic marker or size 15 knitting needle the same number of times as holes you have, plus one
- Screw the wire into the holes.
- Bend the wire ends in or make a hook to catch the next loop in.
Voila! Totally custom Assignment Books.
BONUS: now you have a compact, easy to access basis for transcripts. And you didn’t have to use a fussy chart (unless you like fussy charts, which I sometimes do).
If you found this tutorial helpful, or interesting, or even amusing, please consider contributing to our adoption fund at Reece’s Rainbow. And we sure would be tickled if you shared this Tutorial with your friends through social media. Please feel free to pin away! And if you need to purchase supplies, you can do so right through our Amazon affiliate link. Those commissions go toward our adoption, too!