Thursday, July 2, 2015

Inside Our Form I Binder


My rising first grader has been eagerly awaiting a Year 1 rite of passage in this house: receiving her very own binder!  She squealed with excitement when I brought it out of the office and placed it on her school shelf in preparation for Monday's start.  (I should add: this girl is amazingly easy to please, if that's not obvious. ;))  The funny thing is that it's really nothing special!  Just a handy housing place for her written/drawn assignments and reference materials for AO's Form I work.

Care to peek inside?


Copywork.  Cate is working on letter formation and loves writing.  So I printed a mix of alphabet practice and simple sentences to start her off.  Later in the year, I'll have her work on the poems she is memorizing,  favorite bits from her school readings, and prayers.  I usually keep just a couple pages in her binder and the rest in my own folder, waiting to replenish hers when she has finished.


An alphabet card.  These are just little reference cards for my eager early writers to use in their free time.  I printed them using Startwrite, just like I did the copywork pages.


Maps for mapwork and for reference.  Last year, I printed blank maps of Europe and America for my older kids to note relevant places we encountered in our readings--beyond the scheduled mapwork we did alongside our designated geography readings.  I did the same thing for my first grader's binder this year.  So when we read that Velazquez painted in Spain, Handel was born in Germany but composed for the King of England, or Leif the Lucky landed on this coast or that, we can make a quick note on these casual maps instead of just referencing our wall map (which, although convenient, wasn't making the impact I was hoping for).


I also have our formal maps for this year printed on cardstock--Year 1 has Paddle to the Sea scheduled, so we'll be covering the Great Lakes region in a bit more depth as we chart Paddle's journey.  Next year we'll do the same with Tree in the Trail, and the year after with Marco Polo.


And we refer to these handy laminated maps all the time, so they're in there too.


Binder timeline.  I've described our binder timeline before.  Cate's is blank now but it won't be by the end of the year!  My older kids have kept the same binder timeline through all of Form I.


Bird coloring sheets. This is something I did as a supplemental project with my older two when they went through The Burgess Bird Book in Year 1, and I'm certain Cate is going to enjoy it as well.  I used the Peterson field guide coloring book to make copies of the relevant birds, and she can color them based on the field guide's key.  At the end of the year, we can add them to her nature journal.  This is not a required element of studying Burgess' book, and for some kids it would be overkill.  For my kids, who happen to love coloring and nature, it's a fun addition.  (One might do the same thing for The Burgess Animal Book in Year 2, but we didn't.)


Memory work.  Each child has in her binder a copy of the selections we're working on: a hymn, a folk song, a poem, a passage from Shakespeare, and a passage from the Bible.


Once she learns this memory work, I remove all but her poem, which she illustrates and then gives to me to add to our family poetry folder.  We have four years worth of poetry in there from two children so far, and there will be more added as the years go on.  It's a lovely pile of drawings and poems even at this early stage!


Math drill sheets.  We use RightStart math in the early years, and starting in Level B, they provide math drill pages for regular use.  I put these in page protectors and they do one a day with a wet-erase marker.  Later on, I'll often print extra practice on specific topics from Math Aids and tuck them in the pocket for daily use.



Drawing drill sheets.  These free printables from Donna Young's site are another of those wonderful extras for kids that love to draw.  I schedule these for five minutes a couple times a week.  They coordinate with the exercises in Mona Brooks' Drawing with Children, which I have used on and off with my kids for the past few years. (Note: Unfortunately, these drill pages are by paid subscription only.  I haven't been able to find anything similar to substitute with, but you could technically draw your own quite easily if you are so inclined.)

And not shown, but -- Paper for drawn narrations.  I pop some blank paper in the back pocket for easy access.  My 1st grader's are just blank pages, but in second and third grade, I printed a variety of lined papers with a blank space at top, bottom, or side for sentence-long written narrations or copywork accompanied by a drawing.

Not all our Form I Keeping is held here; we keep nature journals separately in a hardcover spiral bound notebook, do math on looseleaf sheets or in math workbooks, house our family Calendar of Firsts in a shared binder, etc.  But this binder makes it easy for her to keep her personal work together and organized.  I can also assign "binder work" first thing in the morning, and that includes copywork, map drill (when she's a bit older), drawing drill, memory work, and more--and all she needs to bring to the table for that learning block is this binder and her pencil box.

This binder stays pretty much as-is (with year-specific additions and refreshing) through Form I (Years 1-3), but I'm pulling together my Year 4 students' binders now and I'll have to chat about those once they're up and running--added responsibility, more written assignments, and a couple on-going projects means theirs are a bit fuller.

51 comments:

  1. Those smaller laminated maps, where did you get those?! We LOVE our wall maps and have them on the wall by our supper table, so they get used often. But when snuggled on the couch reading, those smaller laminated versions would be lovely.

    My son (almost 10) pretty much adores maps. He will look everything up on his own initiative, make his own maps, "read" maps for fun. My Y2 daughter, not as into it. She will start map drills this year, so I'm hoping that will help. You've really noticed a difference with your kiddos labeling/coloring the blank maps of Europe and America after your readings? We've always found the places we read about on the wall map during supper. But like I said, map obsessed son, so it worked for him. Caroline's map drills this year are going to be of the US, so we will see there. But after Y1 looking up places on wall map did not really work for her. I figured map drills would help and I really do think they will. But now you have me thinking I will print off a blank map for her of Europe as well. Maybe tie it into the "where did we leave off last reading" too. I'm liking it!

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    1. Our map drills have worked very well in terms of memorizing what is where, and we enjoy having our maps hanging in the dining room. BUT in terms of making connections across readings and tying those readings to a sense of place in the student's mind, I haven't found either of those to be all that effective. That could just be my kids. ;) But something about the act of writing it down rather than just looking and talking about it on our wall map seems to make a difference. I don't make this busywork and I leave it all up to the kids' plan and initiative--when we pull out our binders to update the timelines, they update their maps too. Just a quick note jotted down with the name "Mozart" next to his city of origin or a line from where Sir Francis Drake sailed from to where he landed, etc. I keep it simple. It also is, in a way, a small act of narration because we actually don't do this when we do the reading. When I prepare the reading, I use our wall map to show where we'll be talking about. Later that week, they'll make the entry. So perhaps it moves it from short-term to long-term memory at that point? Not sure. But it has worked better than what we were doing before and is such an easy addition to our schedule.

      The smaller laminated maps are from Rainbow Resource. They are handy! I also have placemat maps (the kind you can get at Target or Walmart) that I keep by our sofa for when we're reading there. :)

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  2. Short term to long term: I think that's how it works for us by using the wall maps to look for/point out to Daddy the places we read about that day at supper time. They end up narrating their favorite parts or tracing journeys on the map for him. But my daughter is such a keeper (my son and I are not naturally like she is). So I'm thinking the personal map that she physically marks, colors, or makes a little note on would make it more internalized for her. For my son it might be busy work, but I don't believe it would for her. For my son I think he does what you were describing just in his mind as he looks at maps or makes his own. I love how they are each so different. Your family are such natural keepers (this map idea for instance) that I'm so glad you posted about it. This is perfect for my daughter.

    Rainbow Resource, I'll check it out. Thanks.

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    1. Tracing journeys on the map for Daddy is a great idea. :) Yes, coloring and making notes are definitely popular with my crew, particularly my girls! ;)

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  3. Oh! We are using binders for the first time this upcoming year. So, I'm glad to see how you do it. It will be for my youngest (doing AO year 5). I'm not sure if I will bother with my oldest . . . . too late of a start with him.

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    1. I will try to talk a bit about my Form II binder (for my AO Year 4 students) soon in case it's useful to you. It's basically this same binder plus a century chart, some dictation and grammar pages, map drill sheets, cursive copywork, a section for "this week" work that includes Latin and Italian written work, and a nice map of California that we're going to be working on together over the course of the year. I hope you find the binder helpful for your Y5 son!

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  4. I'm really interested in the drawing exercises you describe. I think I will give them a try. Have you seen good improvement since using them?

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    1. We did see improvement--although at these ages, when they're learning so much so quickly and making all kinds of jumps in ability, it's hard to know how much is thanks to the drawing drills and how much is just getting older and more dexterous. :) But the kids think they're fun and I do too...and they're free, so you can't beat that! ;) It's fun to do one at the beginning on the year and then another copy of the same one at the end of the year so that you can do a comparison and see how far they've come.

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    2. Karla - I just started using those drawing exercises with my son last year (Y3) and I felt like they made a big difference for him not just in his ability to control his pencil, but also in how well he could notice details in what he was drawing or writing. This translated into less mistaken letters and fewer dropped dots and uncrossed t's in his cursive copywork. It certainly could be basic development, but I feel like his learning curve accelerated when I started the drawing exercises about halfway through the year.

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  5. Love this, Celeste! Very helpful and perfect timing too -- I was just starting a binder for my 6-year old for the fall. Thanks!

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    1. Thanks, Stef! And is this your youngest, six years old already?!

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  6. Thank you for this helpful peek inside! I'd love to have a list of the poems you have used and will use this year. I found a few listed here on your blog - http://joyouslessons.blogspot.com/2012/08/our-cm-kindergarten-morning-basket.html?m=1 - but would you be willing to compile a list to share? I've been working on building a list for this year, and I love hearing suggestions from others! Thank you so much! :)

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    1. Hi Cheri! I actually have compiled ALL the memory work we have done over the past four years including poetry into a memory work index, which I have tabbed at the top of the blog:

      http://joyouslessons.blogspot.com/p/memory-work-index.html

      Hope that helps, and thanks for stopping by!

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  7. Celeste!!! I LOVE this post!! So incredibly helpful! I'm totally doing this for my girls. Thanks for posting!! (as always-I love your blog!)

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    1. Thanks, Catie--as always! ;)

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    2. Hello again! :) I'm going back through this post to do some planning and I was wondering...do you have a separate Circle or Morning Time binder? I started out with a CT binder at the beginning of last year, but since I was so new at everything it just didn't work out the way I wanted. (I've been looking at Brandy and Mystie's blogs a bit too, to help me decide b/c I think they both do separate CT binders.) Your thoughts? :)

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    3. No, we just keep this one binder for each child, no separate binder for our "Morning Basket" work (which actually happens over breakfast and lunch). I just like all the loose paper in one place, and I also don't think we have enough Morning Basket printouts to warrant a separate binder. (I think Brandy and Mystie include more in Circle Time than we do.) We do have separate spiral notebooks for foreign language and math. Hope that helps!

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  8. I really like what you've done with these binders for your children! Having the maps there is a great idea. I appreciate this post, I'm going to have to think about it a little more. I know I had binders for my kids the year before this last one and I dropped them last year... And now I wish I knew why. :-D I think I didn't make them useful enough, and they just started to feel like a burden? In the last year I used my ProClick to make copywork books and math books for the kids and these worked well, but the loose drawing practice pages and other work started to get a little overwhelming by the end of the year. And I *ahem* never did get that century timeline going... *sigh* But the next school year is a fresh start, right??

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    1. Hehe--I have a couple things that I am intent on adding this year after failed plans last year. Like handicrafts! So you're ahead of me on that one, for sure. ;) I love fresh starts!

      The binder quandary I'm having this year isn't for my Form I binder, which is pretty straightforward, but for the binders for my Y4 kids. They are very used to "binder work" so we will certainly be using them to house most of their assignments, but I'm going back and forth on whether to have them keep a couple notebooks as well, one for written narrations, for example, one for Latin...or is it better stored in the same binder as the rest of their stuff? They already have all their math work in a notebook and I love how it cuts down on paper clutter... I'm going to try it in the binder to start and see what I prefer. (And even with the binders, I'm positively drowning in paper here from all their free drawing! LOL)

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    2. Love your binders! :)I wanted to ask how you made those printable maps? You mentioned printing out Europe and America and you also have a Paddle To The Sea area map. Did you do those yourself or use a map program? I loved the look of our Beautiful Feet Holling maps, but they are cumbersome and if kept stored in the roll they shipped in, are harder to work with. The idea of a binder size map seems more manageable.

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    3. Hi Cynthia! I usually just Google "blank map Western Europe" or "blank map Paddle to the Sea" or whatever areas I am interested in and then hunt through the results to find what I'm looking for. AO also has links to relevant maps for each year in their History and Geography section. And yes, I too have the Hollings maps from BF and haven't used them yet! :) I do like the smaller format better, although for this coming year, I'm going to have my older two kids do a 9x12 map of California--we'll see how that goes!

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  9. Hmmmm...didn't think about a binder for year 1. I wonder if it is something that would get used. We do keep the placemat maps with us when we read, but since this is only week one of AO for us, I'm still not sure what will and won't work. But I'm bookmarking this to come back to in a couple of weeks!

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    1. Yes, it is good to try things out first and then tweak when needed! And a binder isn't necessary--I just like a place to corral the loose papers that inevitably result from our assignments. The more school-aged kids I have, the more I feel like I'm drowning in paper! LOL Although I can't even imagine how much worse it would be if they ALSO had phonics workbooks and spelling workbooks and writing handouts and and and... ;)

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    2. The binder is assembled! I added calendar pages to the front so that Jasper could mark of each day as calendar time. He has a difficult time with sequencing days and time, so I think doing this consistently will help. And I am off to print some drawing drill sheets which will be something I think he enjoys. Also excited to have a place for drawn narration so, because he seems to prefer that for OIS. Now, if only write start was compatible with Macs...do you know if there is an alternative? I use Handwriting without tears, but he sometimes needs more guided practice than the book has, and I'd love to print out some drill pages! Sigh...I'm feeling rather accomplished ;-)

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    3. Jasper is enthralled with his binder. He was explaining everything to his sisters and trying to use it to "teach" Joy. It was pretty funny. Then Esther started asking him about his drawings from OIS, and he explained the story to her, and she decided to draw the same story. It included a submarine and a cherry tree (it was the story of the Romans coming and Jaspers picture was off the boats and the chariots...I guess we need to work on vocabulary ;-) ) Made me smile!

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    4. I love that, Sarah! I posted an impromptu drawing Xave made of the third chapter of OIS while I was reading it to Cate over on Facebook the other day--I had no idea he was listening since he wasn't even in the same room, but after Cate finished her narration, he asked me how to spell "Britons." LOL His drawing had Caesar's ships being met with the Britons in their TRUCKS. So funny.

      I really like the idea of the calendar pages! I may steal that from you! :) I don't know of a program compatible with Mac, although another friend asked me the same thing and I think she ended up using this free online option:
      http://handwritingworksheets.com/

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  10. Just lovely, Celeste! We have binders like this also, but NO WHERE NEAR THIS NICELY organized! ;) LOL! I need to do a little housekeeping for the new year. :)

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    1. Hahaha--well, it is only the *start* of the school year here. I have a feeling they'll get messier as the year goes on. ;)

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  11. I'm thinking about purchasing Startwrite. Can you say more about it? Can you say why you like it and why you thinks it is worth the cost?

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    1. It is worth the cost for me because I will be able to make all my own copywork pages for all my kids through the years. There are free online copywork creators, but I can save mine for later kids, which is really helpful for me. I prefer to let my kids choose their copywork selections, so this is a good fit for us. I also have been using Startwrite this year to make our dictation/grammar pages, which I couldn't do with a free format. I bought it with charter school funds, so it was actually "free" for me, but I would buy it again in a heartbeat because I use it SO often. Hope that helps!

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  12. Would you mind sharing your links to your maps?

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    1. Do you mean the blank maps we use for mapwork or the binder-sized reference maps?

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    2. I mean the ones pictured above of Paddle to the Sea and Europe. They are pretty, simple, and clear.

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    3. Europe map is here:
      http://www.youreuropemap.com/

      The Paddle maps I found via the AO forums -- they are bookmarked in the Form I area. :)

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    4. Hi Celeste. I tried to post a comment last night, but I don't think it worked. Would you possibly be able to give me more direction on where to find the Paddle map on the AO forum. I spent quite a bit of time searching and to no avail. OR, would you be able to email it to me? I can send you my email address if you think that would work. Thanks!

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    5. They are here: http://goalongs.com/?p=32

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  13. Wow, so impressive. I love the organization and thoroughness of it all. I would love to get to this but it intimidates me. How long did it take to prepare? It feels like I would need a year or two to put something like this together. Did all of your kids start at 6? Any with learning delays or challenges?

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    1. Oh, it really wasn't complicated at all--just a bunch of Googling and printing. :) It looks much more time-intensive than it is, I think. I basically just made a list of the things I wanted to include, grabbed a stack of cardstock and a stack of printer paper, started finding things online, and printed and checked them off as I went along. I'd say it took me a couple hours to set it up for the whole first term. But this is just one way of organizing your written work for Form I. Much of this is not required, so find what works for you. :)

      Yes, my first three kids started at 6 and my next will start at 6 this fall. None have learning delays or challenges so far.

      Hope that helps, Monique!

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  14. Hi Celeste! I'm new to the MA Facebook page and stumbled across your blog. I love it! Thank you for taking the time to outline what you do. I'm a very visual person, so seeing pictures of everything is great! You mentioned that each child has a memory work section. Is the memory work for everyone the same? Specifically, the poem? I ask because you mentioned having the kids illustrate the poems they are working on. Does this mean you have multiple copies of the same poem once it gets transferred to the other binder? And what happens once it's in the new binder? Is it there for record keeping, review, enjoyment?

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    1. Hi Rachel! Thanks for stopping by! They memorize different poems -- their choice. So only one copy of each poem is in there. Our poetry binder is solely a keepsake, something to page through for fun. We don't actually use it to review because we use our Evernote memory notebook for that. Hope that helps!

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  15. Hi Celeste! Thank you for taking the time to detail so many helpful aspects of your homeschooling on your blog. It is so helpful! You linked to art blocks that you said were free on Donna Young's website but when I try to print them it requires me to pay a fee and join access for a year. Am I missing something? THanks!

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    1. Hi Elizabeth! When I first wrote this, Donna Young's site was completely free. Now you have to be a subscriber to access her printables. :/ I should change that above to avoid confusion, but I don't know of any similar resource. McIntyre's Drawing Textbook is like that but on a level suitable for kids a bit older. It would be easy to draw your own grids also. It's very much like drawing copywork. :)

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  16. Hi Celeste,
    You mentioned in this post that you were putting together your Year 4 binder. Have you shared about that yet? I will be planning Year 4 before too long and would love to see how you put together your binder for Year 4. :)
    Thanks!
    Karen

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    1. Ooops...never mind. I just found the post you did on your Year 4 binder. :)
      Karen

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    2. Glad you found it, Karen! :)

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  17. Thank you for taking time to come back to questions, if you have a moment for one more (I'm planning this week!). How do your students know what binder work to do and when? I noted as part of your daily schedule there is a slot for "binder work" - but do you direct them to a map, to math drill, etc. via their checklist?

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    1. Hi Karen! Yes, the kids have that "binder work" detailed for them on their checklists. I don't need that level of detail on mine, so I just lump it, but they have the full list. You can see an example on their checklist here:
      http://joyouslessons.blogspot.com/2014/08/scheduling-by-week.html

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  18. Lovely blog and detailed plan! I've been homeschooling forever, and JUST trying Ambleside this year with my three littlest who are in grade 6, 4, and K :) - Thank you for the inspiration! I have two graduated, three in various public-y schools, and just the last three home this year, and i needed a little extra push as i plan an wedding for one, miss my oldest who joined the navy and drive biggies to jobs and football and and and... :)

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    1. Thanks so much, Stephanie! Congrats on launching several children and I hope you are enjoying your time at home with the littler ones -- what a fun household! I can only imagine how busy the season of life you are in must be. I will find out eventually -- LOL!

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