Friday, June 29, 2018

How We Make Our Own Notebooks...

I often get questions about my kid's notebooks. Many people want to know how and where I have them bound. Today, I did an Instagram live on our notebooks and the tools I use to create them. Since those videos are only available for 24 hours, I thought I'd make a more permanent record here.

First off, a little history. We've been notebooking almost since the beginning of our homeschool. I found this approach early on after reading several blogs, but the one that I tried to emulate with Riley in 1st grade was Charlotte Mason Help by LindaFay. I think The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise may have also tipped me off on this method.

Very early on, I was hooked! I loved the creative outlet it afforded my kids. And, I loved the record that was left at the end of the year. I found notebooking to be a much better approach to workbooks, especially in subjects like history and science, because it encouraged long term retention unlike workbooks. They were able to keep their narrations, illustrations, diagrams, and mapwork all in one place.

We've tried many methods of notebooking over the years, including hole punching pages for a 3-ring binder, but sometimes the pages would rip out with excessive handling. We've used lined sewn composition books. We've also used blank drawing journals. One problem with a pre-made notebook is page count. I never know how many pages my kids will need each year for their notebooks and I have a guilt complex about not using up all the pages...OCD, I know! We have also tried picking up the notebook where we left off the previous year to finish out the pages, but my kids and I both prefer to keep each year separate so we can see the progression. One other problem is sometimes the kids want lines and sometimes they prefer a blank page. Pre-made notebooks offer one or the other, rarely both. This is where my current method comes in.

I keep a file folder full of misc. notebooking pages on my desk. Some of them I've printed from Others, I've found randomly online. When I can't find exactly what I'm looking for, I create my own. I have a few templates saved in Word that I print when needed. After the kids finish their assigned reading, they pick a notebook page from the file and work through it. The kids know how to use the printer to make copies. They are required to refill the file with a half dozen more copies if they take the last page of that sort.

Throughout the year, they collect their completed pages in a folder. At the end of the year, I bind them. I used to take them to an office supply store for binding, but that added up financially. After doing some research, I found it was cheaper to invest in a binding machine and do it myself.

I purchased a ProClick Binder P-50 from Amazon. It's been a very good investment! I use it to bind the kid's notebooking pages, as well as lesson planners, book lists, PDF downloads, notes from seminars, and whatever else ails me. I also purchase poly covers for the pages I'm binding and of course, the spines. I use the 45 page and 85 page Easy Edit Spines. There were a few times I could have used the 110 page capacity, but I can only find them in a 100-count pack and didn't want to make that kind of investment. I like the Easy Edit Spines because they open easily so you can add or subtract pages if needed. You can buy comb-binding machines, but I would advise against them. From my experience, comb-bindings become brittle and break. I have never had any problems of this sort with the Pro-Click Binder spines.

One last note I'd like to make about our notebooks is in addition to the poly covers, I usually add a title page. On the kid's notebooks that I bind at the end of the year for record keeping, I use regular paper, often photocopying the cover of the resources they used/read throughout the year to create their pages. However, if it's a workbook or some other resource that will have frequent handling throughout the year, I use heavier cardstock for the cover page. This makes it more durable through continued wear and tear.

Overall, I have been very satisfied with my ProClick Binder and am glad I made the purchase. It's been a handy homeschool tool! If you are interested in purchasing, please consider clicking on my affiliate links below. Thanks!



  1. Brilliant! I'm going to try this method this year! We have tried both the composition notebooks and 3-ring binders but neither seem to work for us for the reasons you describe. We end up with a file folder of completed work at the end of the year instead. LOL

  2. I bought a Proclick probably five plus years ago after waffling about the purchase for ages (It is one expensive hole punch!) but I have never regretted it! It is so handy, and I have used it for song books, copywork books, drawing books, binding PDFs that I wanted to print... all sorts of things.