Tuesday, July 21, 2009

School Prep 6

Creating the Binders

I only have a couple of pictures....but I am going to list step-by-step directions for how I put together my children's school binders for this year. The final products are a compilation of ideas from my sister-in-law Megan, Managers of Their Schools by Teri Maxwell, and my own brain!

I decided to buy one 1.5 inch binder for each of my children to use. In past years, they have had multiple smaller binders, one for each subject that needed a binder (not all subjects need a binder).

The finished binders

Supplies needed to create school binders:

1. 1.5 inch (or bigger if you think you need more room) binder per child

2. tabbed dividers (one per subject). I bought Avery brand plastic dividers for durability. I printed out the labels on the computer and then slipped them into the tabs. Hopefully, these plastic tabbed dividers will last for many school years. Some of my subject labels include: science, IEW (our writing curriculum), history, computer literacy, home economics, geography, etc. I tried to use generic labels---science instead of biology--so I could reuse the tabs in future years.

3. construction paper--for making dividers within the tabbed dividers. I cut the construction paper to 8.5 x 11 with my paper cutter. Then I make a label on the computer (Avery shipping labels, I think they are 2 x 4 in.), stick it on the construction paper, and then laminate the paper. I 3-hole punch the laminated divider, and then place it in the binder.
The procedure I followed to create the school binders:

1. Cut, label, and laminate a construction sheet for the cover of the binder. Mine say the student's name, grade and year.

2. Create the tabbed divider labels. See #2 above.

3. Create the laminated construction paper sub-dividers. See #3 above. For example: within the Science tabbed section, I made laminated dividers with these headings--Vocabulary Words, On Your Own, Experiments, and Study Guide. These are the sections that Julie and Olivia needed for Apologia science. I also included loose paper behind each divider. Clay is doing IEW SWI level A, so I made laminated dividers for his IEW section labeled: Sources, Outlines, Compositions, and Stylistic Techniques and Banned Words. Some subjects do not require any laminated dividers.

4. Type the daily lesson plans for each subject. I try to complete plans for the entire year. See my School Prep 5 post for details about how I plan for the year. The student will cross off each item as they complete it. I place each subject's detailed daily lesson plans right behind its subject's tabbed divider. For some subjects, the lesson plan is all that is included in that subject's section.

5. The first tabbed divider for each child's binder is Daily Plans. This is where I place the overall plan/checklist for each day. I fit 4 weeks per page. I create this checklist using a table, and I include the weekly dates and the days of the week at the top. The side of the table lists each subject. This checklist does not list the details of what the student is to complete for each subject, (this is found behind each subject's tab) but it is a general checklist for the child to make sure he completes each subject each day. Some of our subjects are worked on the computer, and they do not have a tabbed divider in the notebook.

6. Finally, I add a zippered pouch to store pencils and other necessary items, and other useful laminated pages......maps, multiplication tables, lists of prepositions, literary terms etc.

The front of a binder

I know that this post is hard to read......I have spent several minutes working on the spacing between items, but blogger is not cooperating!!

I also created Test Binders for each child. These have the same cover pages, and I also made labels for the spines since these binders will be stored on a shelf instead of in each child's work bucket.

The test binders have only two tabbed dividers: Tests to be Taken, and Completed Tests. Behind each tabbed divider I made a laminated divider for each subject that has tests. I then placed each subject's tests behind the appropriate laminated divider. As the children take the tests, I will move the graded tests to the Completed Tests section of the binder, behind the appropriate laminated divider. At the end of the year, I will have all of the year's test in one location. I plan to take the children's completed writing assignments for the year out of their school binder and place the writing in the test binder at the end of the year before storing the binder.
Visit We Are That Family for more tips and ideas.


  1. Super! I finished Parker's and am almost finished with Carson's binders. I think this is going to be a much easier system than all the individual binders. I am very excited!

  2. Looks great! How nice to teach children like yours! Ha!

  3. I really like this system! I've been looking for some good ideas on taming the paper monster, and this is it!

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  5. You and your blasting organization! You are making me look soooo slothful. LOL

    Looks great, girl! You inspire ME