Made for Learning

{Made for Learning} | Assignment Books

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.

{Made for Learning} | Assignment Books

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).

{Made for Learning} | Assignment Books

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.

{Made for Learning} | Assignment Books

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.

{Made for Learning} | Assignment Books

Now, using the original cover as a template, cut out a piece of cardstock.

{Made for Learning} | Assignment Books

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.

{Made for Learning} | Assignment Books

{Made for Learning} | Assignment Books

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.

{Made for Learning} | Assignment Books{Made for Learning} | Assignment Books

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.

{Made for Learning} | Assignment Books

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.

{Made for Learning} | Assignment Books

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.

{Made for Learning} | Assignment Books

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:

  1. Print 20 copies on nice paper (per Assignment Book)
  2. Cut them in half
  3. 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!).
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Stack your covers and pages together with the holes lined up neatly.  Secure with binder clips.
  7. 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
  8. Screw the wire into the holes.
  9. 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!

{Made for Learning} | Three Part Cards

{Made for Learning} | Three Part Cards

Three part cards are an important element of Montessori materials.  They are extremely versatile in that you can use them as aids in a wide variety of subject areas.  Use them for maths, reading, science, geography… anything.  And they are very simple to make and to customize to your family’s needs.  You can copy and paste images to trace or print onto your cards, or, if you are particularly handy with a paintbrush or coloured pencils, you can create your own artwork.

{Made for Learning} | Three Part Cards

For simplicity’s sake, I made colour nomenclature cards for my littlest ones to work with.  They are super-quick to make and you probably have the materials right there at home.

{Made for Learning} | Three Part Cards

  • 12 index cards (or cut your own from white or cream cardstock)
  • watercolour paints
  • brushes
  • water
  • permanent marker
  • scissors
  • laminating sheets and laminator (optional)

I chose to do primary and secondary colours, but you can do as many as you’d like.  Add in brown, black and white, make tertiary colour cards…  I just mixed my own from what I had here.

{Made for Learning} | Three Part Cards

You want to paint squares of each colour on pairs of cards – two red ones, two blue ones, etc.  When they are dry, print the names of the colours on the cards.  In hindsight, I should have printed ours in D’Nealian handwriting since that’s what I’m teaching them.  Easily done over later.

{Made for Learning} | Three Part Cards

{Made for Learning} | Three Part Cards

Now take one set of cards and cut them in half.  You now have three part cards – one complete card set to be used as the control cards, one set of colours, one set of printed colour names.  I feel that it is a really good idea to laminate the cards if you can.  it is spendy, however.  Laminating makes the cards last much longer, and you can wipe them clean in case a baby brother gets ahold of them while snacking. 🙂
{Made for Learning} | Three Part Cards
Alternately, you could paint decoupage medium (like Mod Podge) over the front and back of each card.  You’ll probably want to do several coats, and probably before cutting the cards.

Now, to use the materials, show your little one all of the cards – controls and their matching picture and name cards.  Show them how they match up, that the letters in the words match the ones on the control cards.  Now, let your little one try.  Take up all of the ‘cut’ cards and mix them around.  Leave the control cards out at first.  Let her match them up.  Let her make mistakes and then ask if everything matches exactly.  Point out errors so that she can understand what to look for next time.

Eventually, she will be able to recognize by sight which words go with which colours, without using the control cards.  And she will start to be able to pick the words out of books she’s reading with you.

{Made for Learning} | Three Part Cards

You can do the same with letters and sounds, numbers and their qualities, shapes, natural science, history – whatever you can think of.  This is also a fun way of introducing English as a second language to an older child (which we will soon be doing), or of introducing a foreign language to your children.

I would love to see the cards you come up with.  Send me a link when you make some!

pinktower1

{Made for Learning} A Pink Tower

The pink tower is a ubiquitous Montessori learning material.  It is a sensorial tool used to teach preschoolers about visual spatial relationship.  It also prepares them for mathematics and hones fine motor skills.

You will need::

  • Wooden blocks in 1/2″, 3/4″, 1″, 1 1/2″, 2″, 2 1/2″, 3″, 3 1/2″, 4″ and 5″
  • Pink paint or dye
  • sponge or bristle paint brushes
  • beeswax polish (we make our own)
  • optional: 6″ wood square 1/2″ thick, square rod 18″ long, four 1/2″ blocks (to make the stand)

pinktower1

  • Mix up your paint or dye.  I’m using milk paint in white and barn red (salem red would also work) at a ratio of 75% white, 25% red.
  • Check your blocks over and give them a sanding to make them smooth.
  • Use a tack rag or soft, damp cloth to remove dust.
  • Paint your blocks on 3 sides and set aside to dry.
  • Repeat with remaining three sides. This ensures that you don’t get fingerprints!
  • Paint additional coats if you feel they need it.
  • When the blocks are all dry, polish with your beeswax polish.  I like to do 2-3 coats.
  • Stack and enjoy working!

 

Pink towers – ready made – can cost up to $40 each.  This homemade tower cost me under $20 to create and was such fun to make!

You can buy your wood blocks at CraftParts.

Joful Journey to Easter

{Joyful Journey to Easter} A Young Person’s Lenten Devotional

Joful Journey to Easter

I had intended to have this ready for you all to print and use last weekend.  The project went through several incarnations until I settled on this one.  I’m pleased with it.  It is simple and inexpensive, and – I hope – instructive and useful for just about every age child you have at home.  You could print one set of cards and have all of the children contribute, hanging one card a day on a willow branch (or on your ficus tree… do people still have ficus trees in their homes or is that “so 80s?).  Alternately, each child could display his or her own cards on a ribbon or a corkboard in their rooms… Whatever works for your family and situation.

I’m going to release the first couple of cards separately today, and (pray for me) I hope to finish the whole set sometime today and make it available for you, in its entirety, by the weekend.

Each card introduces a virtue that we can cultivate, and includes a definition, a reference from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), and a quote from a saint or piece of Scripture.  On the reverse of the card, there is a prayer and a place for your young person to write down, or draw, or add some other artwork illustrating a way in which he practiced that virtue.

Have them punch a hole at the top of their cards and attach a string to hang up their cards to display.  They are intended to be printed on 3×5 cards, double sided.  You could print them on regular paper, cut them out and paste them to a pretty piece of decorative card stock, if you’d like. (please send me pictures!)

CLICK AND PRINT THE CARDS BELOW:

Joyful Journey to Easter – Joy   Joyful Journey to Easter – Patience

I am indebted to Kristina Hudson who gave me the original inspiration for this project, and who gave me a wonderful foundation for what I offer you here. God bless you and your family, Kristina.  And thank you again.

{Made for Learning} Something to Share

I am really looking forward to our schoolroom.  It won’t be done by the start of our new school year on Michaelmas, but that isn’t stopping me from making some things for the space anyway.  I’m working on creating a lovely Good Shepherd tableau for my wee ones to use.  Last night I worked on a pattern for the sheep.  This little ram was finished today and instantly became Joséphine’s new favourite toy.

 

Little Lamb

It’s a good thing they’re fast and easy to work up.  You can get the free pattern here and make a flock for your little ones, too.

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