Listen to God's voice at the foot of the crucifix." ~St. Gaspar del Bufaro~

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Celebrating Endings & Looking Ahead To New Beginnings~ Part 2 of 2

Part 2:  Learning Binders=Simple Success!
I wanted to share this idea that sprang from my desire to celebrate our children's accomplishments, as well as their individual God-given gifts.  I wanted to capture their work and who they are in their own separate ways.  This felt impossible at times! I searched around and didn't really find exactly what I was looking for.  As with many home educating families, it can be a constant challenge to keep up with  multiple grades, often with limited space.  And for me, I needed something easy that I knew I would keep up with and on top of.  I admire those who do scrap booking but it just isn't my reality at this time of my life!  So I came up with a simple Learning Binder. 
It's nothing fancy but I assure you that it is easy and do-able!  The "easy" was key for me.
I have used these binders for the past 2 years now and my children LOVE them!
These binders truly help us feel successful in our home education because it's a visual compilation of our celebrations throughout the year.  Sometimes when I doubt (like any mother/teacher who beats herself up sometimes) whether we got anything "accomplished", I take a look at the binders and say:"Wow, we really did a lot this year!" 
My children especially enjoy showing them to grandparents!

Supply list:  Binders, Sheet Protectors & 10x14 manilla folders
  • The sheet protectors can add up in price but they usually come on sale closer to the start of the school year.  
  • I estimate about 35-50 sheet protectors per child.  Buy them all ahead of time so they are on hand.  I found if I ran out, I got behind.
Step 1:  A Simple Binder (At least 1 1/2") 
*Get the ones covered in plastic cover to insert a cover sheet*
This is a photo of our Kinder son's (with name blocked out)
~My husband helps them design their own personal cover each year on the computer~
But you could certainly make a fun art project out of decorating your own front page!

**My photos are a bit limited since the kids have their names on everything**
(2nd grade daughter had an adorable binder but her name is all over)

Step 2:  Pre-load each binder with empty sheet protectors to start the year
Step 3:  Keep everything you want to "celebrate" here in the binder!  
I literally use it for EVERYTHING:
Liturgical celebrations, special school work, special artwork, writing pieces, piano certificates, pictures doing school work, pictures, and more pictures, sports, field trips, etc. 
It has been a great record-keeper!
This also helped solve the problem of where to display children's work they are proud of!
THE KEY:  Once great work is done, it just gets slipped right into the binder right away, without delay!  This is critical to success!
Before you know it, the binders are full of great things to celebrate!
When writing assignments are complete...IN they go!
One other important point...I try to print out field trip (or other) pictures right away.  Warning:  You may need to budget for a bit more printer cartridge ink to do this.
~If I fail to print pictures right away, I put it on the calendar to take 1 day and do it quarterly.~
But I still find the best success when I take a few extra minutes and do things right away or within a day or two!
So you are probably wondering what to do with these things at the end of the year?  Most of us do not have storage space for a billion binders that would accumulate with many children over the years!
Well, I have started removing all of the work and placing it in a large 10x14 manilla envelope.  These are easily stackable in a drawer or plastic bin.  I actually save all of the special things and keep them right in the sheet protectors.
Then we re-use the binders and create new covers the following year...the only cost is for more sheet protectors!
~I really hope this helps someone else out there looking for just the right simple and successful tool~
I'd love to hear how some of you organize your spaces too!
*God Bless your families as you, too, look ahead to new beginnings*
Oh and one more thing...I really love this E-book:  Simplifying Your Domestic Church

Major Note:

Since I last wrote this post, I discovered that this concept is definitely NOT my own!  Through some recent blog surfing, I found this Notebooking Site.  It's wonderful.  Though my original idea for Learning Binders was for "record keeping" and general storage for loose artwork, photos, and misc. extra things,  I plan on expanding to include some of the things at this site.  I am so excited about starting our year pondering some of these ideas!


  1. Tiffany, the binders with the artwork and photos and stories are beautiful! I'm currently using an expandable legal size folder for all artwork, but your system is awesome because you can put stories next to the artwork and provide narrative, and also use the protector to keep the artwork/photos etc safe. and the children (and others) can go back laterand review. very good idea. I think i will start on this!

  2. GREAT post. We keep a binder of their work, but you've provided extra inspiration and ideas here, thanks!


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