Recording your Homeschool Memories

1/23/2014
This post may be my hardest to write because this topic is so near to my heart that I want it to be perfect. I almost wished I hadn't chose embracing imperfection as my word for the year. I know that Father is faithful to grow me in this area and He jumped right to the task to do just that with this series.

Today, I would like to talk about memory keeping for homeschoolers.

1.

"Cultivate a good {homeschool} life and record it."

The quote is from Project Life's Becky Higgin's motto: "Cultivate a good life and record it."

As the quote suggests, Project Life is so much more than just preserving memories. It is about cultivating a good life and then recording it.

Let's apply that to homeschooling...

Part of cultivating a good {homeschool} life is... ___________.



Fill in the blank!


What does cultivating a good {homeschool} life mean to YOU?

Part of cultivating a good {homeschool} life is...

  • reading to my children. I want my children to have fond memories of reading as a young child.

  • unplugging to plug into my children.

  • tuning in to their learning styles so they can thrive.

I will share more about Project Life below, but I want you to know that you can document your homeschool story in many ways.

2. Document Your Homeschool in a Tangible Way

This can be done ANY way you want. You invest many precious hours and days into homeschooling.  Whether you are required to record keep in your state or not, it helps you and your children to see all you have accomplished! I document on my blog and in a tangible way for my children to see. After all, they don't read my blog and benefit from it in the same way I do.

I do this in many ways.

At first, I wrote notes right in my Sonlight IG's and dated it. I slipped artwork, samples of their work, and even photos or newspaper clippings right into my IG. (This is why I could never part with my old IG's!).



Be still my heart. ♥ Dylan at age 5.


I also had their notebooking pages bound into a book. These are the days before Apologia had pre-made journals, (which I now love).  But, we also made books for our Around the World study, our United States study, and more.




Then, I discovered lapbooking, which I converted to a LapJournal for easier storage.

LapJournal  is...

A lapbook, a scrapbook, and a portfolio ~ a record of our learning time together.


I used the LapJournal to document our FI♥AR journey.  Our school work, narrations, illustrations, lapbooks, printables, worksheets, activities and art work are in our journals.

What we used to make the lap journal:

  • Binder (we use a 3 inch binder ~ buy the locking kind!)
  • Colored cardstock and printer paper
  • Heavy weight sheet protectors (can use lightweight for notebooking pages)
  • Rubber cement (cleans up nicely ~ be sure to let it completely dry before putting the page in the sheet protector as it bubbles the plastic if you don't!)
  • Vis-a-Vis Wet Erase Markers (to reuse printables)
  • scissors, crayons, color pencils, etc.

What goes inside?
  • A color photo copy of the book we rowed (this is a great visual aid to help the children remember the books!)
  • Lapbooks lapbooked on 8.5 x11 cardstock
  • Notebooking pages
  • Narration and Illustrations
  • Copywork
  • Printable activities (Tot packs, Preschool Packs, etc.)
  • File folder games (just trim the ends so they will fit in the sheet protectors)
  • Collages
  • Artwork
  • Photos
  • Lesson planning sheets
  • Anything you can fit!

I use the binder method because it keeps everything together and organized so nicely. I also use a binder to store all of Bo's Tot School Printables.


These "memories" are important to Bo. He loves to look back through, and pull out printables and activities from his binder. He often finds pages that he didn't want to finish at the time, and finishes them, or just reminisces over all that he accomplished as a two year old. :) He feels happy and proud of his work, and that encourages him to put his little heart into all that he does! 

Documenting your child's work builds their self-esteem.

And a healthy self-esteem is vital to our relationship with others and with God.

If you have time, and like to be creative, you can do more traditional scrapbooking with your children's work. I made this album with Malachi's preschool.


In fact, I was a traditional scrapbooker for 15+ years before I discovered Project Life.

But, I was becoming further and further behind on my scrapbooking and had less time to make memories with this system. 
"If you want to keep your memories, you first have to live them." ~ Bob Dylan


When I discovered Project Life and it revolutionized the way I record our memories! 


I have more time to make memories and record them than ever before!

3.  Consider Project Life to Simplify {and enjoy!} the Process

Project Life is a back-to-basics approach to memory-keeping. This system is so simple, that it's revolutionary." ~ Becky Higgins

It's really so simple, that I get carried away. When I first started, I put TWO years of our life into ONE album. And now I put ONE year of our life into TWO albums. And that's just my family albums.
It's that simple. It's just my photos + our story.

When I started working on a school album, I played around with combining my lapjournal/binder system with Project Life...

Project Life met our FI♥AR LapJournal:

Photos + Our Story


At first, I added lapbooks right into the album, along with photos, samples of work, and journaling. But, I moved away from using lapbooks in my Project Life albums, and just include samples, photos of lapbooks, or special works of heart.

This works better for me.

4. What else works for me? {The practical aspect of doing Project Life} 

  • getting all of my photos and a core kit into an album and journaling later.
  • having a variety of page designs so that I can work smarter.
  • storing those pocket pages in a Project Life album. I use clear dividers to separate each design and it is a snap to find the page design I need. (I got this awesome tip in Becky's CreativeLive class).
  • having my supplies out at all times so I can work on them anytime.
  • using the blank journaling cards for kids to draw/write on.
  • having 4x6 and 6x6 white card stock cut to size for artwork and drawings.
  • resizing larger artwork on my copier - I reduce an 8.5x11 paper by 50-60%, depending on how much of the paper they took up. (My little ones like having a bigger space to work with, and the miniature versions of their heart work are so stinkin' cute!)



Samples of artwork and drawings that have been resized (from my 2011 family album).



  • printing lapbooks and preschool packs with Project Life in mind (resizing where necessary).
  • using LESS lapbooking or just including a sample of their work ~ I have a tendency to want to include everything! so I'm really working on saving what is really important to me. Right now that is almost everything, but I am getting better. ;-)
  • saving what will go in my albums - my children's handwriting, pictures they draw, their narrations and illustrations, art work and of course, photos! I especially love little hands, tongues sticking out, thoughtful expressions, smiles of joy, working together, looks of concentration, and them showing me their work. :D
  • documenting each day in a draft blog post - If I take 5-10 minutes each night to make notes about what we did that day and include dates, it makes my job so much easier.
  • typing narrations as my little ones give them to me.
  • keeping a Pages document (on my Mac) formatted for journaling cards (if I type my cards).
  • printing my journaling cards ~ I like how clean it looks, it is much easier for me, and I don't like my handwriting, so this has worked for me for the last several years. However, since I am embracing imperfection, I am learning to like my handwiritng!
  • planning ahead. If I last used a 6x6 pocket page (Design E), then I need to be able to fill the back side with whatever we are doing next! That part can be tricky! I've made it work so far, with some creativity.
  • mixing it up, being flexible, and trying to keep it simple! I always have the option to go back and embellish my pages when my children are grown up, if I want.


Keeping it simple in this season of my life is essential for me to cultivate a good {homeschool} life.



Extra supplies I use: 


Most of my favorite pens were missing when I went to find them yesterday to take this picture, so I need to reorganize my stuff again.

How to store the albums or journal:
  • Store upright just like a scrapbook
  • Keep where the child can see it
  • Encourage them your children look through it!

5. To conclude. . . 

Part of cultivating a good {homeschool} life is...
  • creating delightful learning moments in your homeschool.

  • doing something special in your homeschool to create a memory.

  • recording those memories to instill a sense of familial identity and self-esteem in your child.


My heart is to create delightful learning moments in our homeschool by creating memories.  I share these on my blog because I love to inspire others, but mostly to document our memories and to have a record of our learning time together. It naturally has become a source of accountability, and I ♥ that!

My heart is to "cultivate a good {homeschool} life and record it." Project Life and blogging here @ Delightful Learning work naturally together to help me do that!

Project {Homeschool} Life in Action

I'd be hard pressed to share all of this and not share more pages from my albums. :)

Before Five in a Row 2010






Five in a Row 2011

This one is still in progress, but the photos are at least in an album.







2012









And that wraps up 5 days of Homeschooling Essentials!
Thank you for reading along with me this week!

34 comments:

Julie said...

Wow, Michelle. Those are beautiful, but they are SO overwhelming to me! I could never do that and homeschool and do all my housekeeping work and blog! I am in awe of all you manage to fit into your day. :) I would love to have a record like that though.

Michelle said...

Oh, Julie, after I posted this today, I had a feeling that I overdid it. I tried too hard and put too much into one post. Project Life is really so simple - just drop photos in. You can even have your kids write on the cards {I should have mentioned that!}. But, even organizing your children's school work so that you can do something with it later, would be a start. My system, as I shared, has evolved and it's taken me 8+ years to get where I am.

Lisa M @ Farm Fresh Adventures said...

Wow wow wow wow! Can you come over to my house when you are done at yours? LOL! I am happy that I even have PRINTED photos to put into a photo album or frames! I have never been a scrapbooker in any way shape or form. Project Life is AWESOME...just not for me.

I pick my favorite things from each year or unit and save them in binders. Much easier to keep track of that way.

Michelle said...

Well, I wouldn't even consider myself a scrapbooker anymore. Project Life is much more than that. But, the point of my post is to record your memories and putting them in a binder is doing just that! :)

angie said...

WONDERFUL post and BEAUTIFUL pics of awesome memories! I LOVE it! I have many project life albums...however not one is complete (and it really bothers me)! ;) SOoo super how you make a homescool book too. I think you mentioned how you save it to do for later...when do you take the time..once a month? I would definitely love to see more of these posts! Definitely a favorite!

Veens @ Our Ordinary Life said...

I really really want to do that .. and I just would love to get Project life too! I am actually in the process... started it. lets see - I am inspired by your pre-project life albums... I could do those! Thank you for the inspiration!

Erica B said...

Wow - these are beautiful!

Whispered Abundance said...

So lovely! I wish I could keep up with something like this, but just getting school done & keeping the home is a bit of a struggle for me. I'm overwhelmed with trying to keep attendance records and just get their papers into a binder. These are beautiful memory treasures!

Michelle said...

Well, my friend, you HAVE been recording your memories. Keeping attendance records and putting their pages in binders is documenting your homeschool. And you have a collection of very lovely bag books to treasure! Adding personalized notes, narrations, samples of their handwriting is all a treasure! You saw how I did it in my early days, and that pic of my IG with the treasures inside? One day I will organize it all and do something with it... but not now. You are already cultivating a good homeschool life - just save, date, and organize those little treasures for now, for when life offers time. :) And don't you make a blog book of your blogs? THAT is a tangible way of recording your memories!

Michelle said...

Thank you, Erica!

Melanie (Wren) said...

How encouraging, Michelle! And what awesome creative ideas! I'm so glad you shared these. Thanks, friend!

Whispered Abundance said...

Thank you for the gentle reminder of some that I am getting done. Sadly, even blogging our school journey though is not happening even now as we are done with week 18 of this school year and I have only blogged up to 12. It's a huge struggle for me, but I am okay with where I am at. My Bible time has tripled and that is where I am being called at the moment :) I do take the pictures, and maybe one day, I will even find a way to organize all those...hehe! --they are quite a mess..hehe!

MJ @ Creative Madness Mama said...

So a few years ago (through your influence!) I did buy a kit, but I still haven't gotten very far with it. I don't know if I think I'll mess it up or what my deal is. However you inspire me!

Whispered Abundance said...

Just coming back to thank you for the inspiration to get my blogging a bit caught up. Behind the scenes, I got a lot of blog posts nearly finished and was able to "see" what / where we are headed in our adventures ahead. Sooo many pictures to wade through, but I do feel I made a huge dent in the giant pile.

Amber said...

Love it! Love you!

I'm doing the Digital Project Life and LOVE IT!!! I can't say I keep up very well, but I'm trying. I still have the last 10 weeks of last year to get done. But I just love keeping up with memories this way.

Thanks for sharing with us!
Amber

Michelle said...

yay! You're most welcome for the inspiration! I will be along soon to catch up with you!

Michelle said...

Amber, did you send me a link to a tutorial? I'm thinking about doing a digital album for Bo's tot school... I haven't started printing for 2013, so now would be the time to start! And just the fact that you are working on it is enough! We never really catch up because life keeps happening!

Abby said...

You do such a beautiful job not just recording the memories, but making them too. It's inspiring to see all that you do. I think figuring out what cultivating a good life looks like is so important... Something to work on right now.

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Amy @ Wildflower Ramblings said...

Wow do I love love love this post! I have saved my son's Tot School work in a similar binder! I love keeping memories the PL way -- I'll have to try recopying work soon... I love how you print out all your cards -- I really have to try this -- I dislike my handwriting too :)

Jeannette said...

Absolutely inspirational! Love your albums. I have so many empty scrapbooks and all my children's work in plastic folders, I think I will put them in the scrapbooks with pictures. Looking forward to seeing more Project Life posts. Thanks again for sharing!

Amber Garsee said...

Michelle,

I got all three replies from you.

I think you would LOVE digital project life! IT's sooooo easy. No scissors, glue or anything. I can't cut a straight line to save my life.
www.jessicasprague.com
then click on online classes
then scroll down to
Digital Project Life :Photoshop
It's only $23

We're still praying for a house help!! I think it would be wonderful if you could get house help!

Homeschooling6 Mom said...

Wow, pretty amazing. This is something that I need to get working on. Ever sine I bought a digital camera I haven't even purchased physical prints. They are all on my computer (pretty scary). You are doing a wonderful job.

For the moment my blog is our homeschool journey journal but I'd love to put everything in binders.

Michelle said...

Thank you, Abby! ♥ Right now, I am struggling with balancing cultivating a good life online and in real life! It is beautiful when they compliment each other, but after last week and spending so much time online, and now with having a cold, I am feeling behind and overwhelmed. So, for me, cultivating a good life {right now} is taking care of myself and family and resting lots! :)

Michelle said...

Hi Amy! Thank you! ♥ I am making myself use my handwriting for my 2013 album (as a part of my word for the year ~ imperfection). I really do like the look of the typed cards better too! So far, it is easier and faster to use my handwriting (but a little more painful, haha!).

Michelle said...

Thank you, Jeanette! ♥ I hope you do! You will treasure it!

Michelle said...

Thank for the link, Amber! I found the class. I just need PSE, a kit and some time to devote to it. I'm excited thinking about it!

Michelle said...

Do you back up your computer?!

Your blog is a wonderful journal! Maybe you could do a digital album? I'm looking into it since I have sooo many pics!

I've been thinking about your dark photos.... what kind of camera do you have? and does it have multiple settings?

Homeschooling6 Mom said...

No, isn't that terrible. I am looking into purchasing a pdf book from Blog to Print. I put in 1yr. of post and it was over $200.00 to print. They also said I have too much photos, that I need to contact them :)

My camera is this one: http://www.amazon.com/Panasonic-DMC-ZS3-Digital-Stabilized-Black/dp/B001QFZMCO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1391400647&sr=8-1&keywords=panasonic+dmc-zs3

I've had it for at least 3 years now.

Michelle said...

You can get a portable hard drive for less than $100. It's a good investment. :)

I thought the blog to book price was outrageous, too. A good friend of mine just prints her posts and puts them in a binder. I did that for some of our unit studies and notebooks several years ago.

Do you have a lot of natural light in your home? The more light the better! Make sure all curtains and blinds are open and overhead lights are off. Natural light is best if you can help it.

On your camera, take a look at the ISO setting... a higher ISO (800-1600) will produce a brighter picture (too high will make your photo grainy), low ISO (100-200) = darker picture. I used to shoot in 400 because it is a happy medium, but adjust for light conditions. Also play around with the Intelligent Exposure (is that the aperture? which lets more or less light in. Also take a look at your shutter speed - you want the slowest shutter speed possible - too fast of a shutter speed will make your photos too dark. (If your subject is still, you can have a slower speed, but you need a faster speed for action shots). I hope you are able to figure it out! Your pics are not that bad... maybe a few changes in settings will help brighten them up!

Kemi Quinn said...

I'm so late commenting but...yeah WOW! This is amazing. I wish I had thought to take more pictures through the years. I take a few more now and she gets very irritated about it. I've thought about using my binder thingy to make notebooks of selected pages. From preschool on I saved EVERYTHING! I have a box of stuff in the garage. I need an assistant. Sigh! Well you inspire me and I need to do SOMETHING!

Michelle said...

Kemi, you have at least saved everything! Now to organize it! Here is a video that Becky Higgins did called Get Organized with Kids' Stuff. Maybe it will help!

Tara said...

There may be a simple answer to this question, but how do you print your pictures? Do you send them off somewhere that rounds the corners, or do you do it yourself?

Michelle said...

Hi Tara,

There are companies online that will round the corners for you (like Persnickety Prints), but I print mine at Walgreens or Costco and round them myself with a corner rounder - it is a small tool that rounds one corner at a time (can find them in any scrapbooking or hobby/craft store or section). I like to round my corners so they match the Project Life cards. :)

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