However, I am a bit particular and like to have things just so. I find that putting in just a little effort before getting started helps eliminate small frustrations as we go along. Since I had the time and wanted to, I decided to do a few things to get ready for our year. This post will make more sense if you read our curriculum picks first.
The first thing I did was open our packs of student sheets and separate out the State Sheets and President Sheets. I used my brand new binding machine -- a Christmas gift from Hubby that delights my nerdy heart -- to bind each child's pages into a separate notebook. Since you receive some of the sheets this year and the rest of them next year in 1850 to Modern Times, it made sense to me to separate them out so at the end of the year it's easy to set these ones aside to be added to next year.
I choked back my design objections and allowed each child to design their own covers for their notebooks. The covers are not as themed or uniform as I would have made them, but it's one easy way to allow the kids to take ownership of their studies. We downloaded royalty free pictures from Pixabay, inserted them into a Word document, and added text boxes for titles. Then I sent them over to Office Depot to have them printed with nice paper and good ink. I could do it at home, but for only 22 cents apiece, it's a little luxury we really enjoy.
The next thing I did was trim down the state bird and flower cards. I bought some 8-pocket pages to appeal to the kids' desire to collect things. The only problem is the cards punch apart about a quarter of an inch too wide for the little pockets. So I broke out the paper cutter and trimmed 1/8th inch from each side of the cards. Now they fit into the little pockets beautifully!
While I was having covers printed at Office Depot, I also sent over the PDF of Writing Strands: Intermediate 2. Did you know when you upload a file to be printed at Office Depot, you can delete certain pages you aren't going to need? I ended up with only the writing lessons, not the reading lessons we aren't using. I stapled each lesson in the corner and put them into a 3-ring binder. I didn't spiral bind them like the others because Miss M will be adding her finished papers to the binder as the year progresses. Affix a cute cover on the front with washi tape, et voila, we're ready to go!
As in previous years, I used the grid pages from my teacher's manual to create a lesson planner for the year. My Father's World graciously allows for copies of the grid pages from their TMs to be made for your records if you agree to never sell, loan, or give away the manual or any copies at any time. At the end of each year, my lesson planner becomes part of the records I keep to satisfy Missouri state law. In addition to photocopies from the TM, I created another grid page for the kids' math, English, and foreign language lessons. I could have pencilled these in on the grid pages themselves, but it seemed neater to go ahead and type it all up in advance. Now each week of school is a two page spread in my planner. In the front I included a year-at-a-glance calendar and a monthly calendar for keeping track of holidays, events, and field trips. In the back I added a place to track a few grades and math drill scores, and a copy of the book of James for quick reference since we will be memorizing it this year.
Once my lesson planner was printed and bound, it was time to get out the one I ordered for Miss M. This year she asked for a paper planner rather than using Homeschool Planet like she has in the past. I thought that was wise since using an online planner has its pitfalls, not the least of which is the time-suck that anything on the computer can be, even if it's just "quickly" checking your email.
I once received a copy of The Ultimate Daily Planner for Students back when I was a reviewer with Home School Mosaics. (You can read that review here.) Miss M wasn't really big enough then to use it to its full potential, but she really enjoyed having it. I considered a lot of planners, but ended up going with this one again mainly because it's really difficult to find an undated planner for students, I needed a daily one, and I didn't want to write everything out like in a bullet journal or plain spiral notebook. She will be moving toward more independence this year with more opportunities for practicing time management, and I'm hoping this planner will be an excellent tool for her.
To go along with our planners and keep our place in my teacher's manual, I created a few quick bookmarks. You can use a spare piece of leftover lamination or even something opaque like cardstock or poster board. Decorate with stickers or washi tape. I love this kind because it doesn't fall out, but can be easily moved from one week to the next!
Last of all I went through our many back issues of nature magazines and clipped pictures to go with each week's science study. This will make notebooking go just a little bit faster since the kids won't have to draw everything they want to illustrate each week.
I couldn't really say how long it took me because I did all these tasks over the course of several days while also catching up on laundry, deep cleaning floors, and so on. And like I said at the beginning, none of this is strictly necessary for a successful year in Exploration to 1850. I just wanted to, and so I did!
What do you like to do to prep for your year?