Project Life Meets Our FI♥AR LapJournal

I am getting some wonderful behind the scenes questions about Project Life and our school pages and a few requests to write a post about it. . . so here goes! But, keep in mind, this is still very new to me! 

First. . . 

Clementine Edition 

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

To learn more, read the Products page to see the designs and what you need to complete an album:
  • Project Life binder
  • Core kit 
  • photo pocket pages
  • your photos
  • pen
I own the 4 designs currently offered. I am currently using Turquoise Edition for 2012, Cobalt with the Cobalt binder for 2011, and Amber for 2007-2009. (Cobalt is the only edition currently available, but is one of my favorites!).

Watch some videos - my favorites are "Inspiration for Documenting Life" and "Project Life with Becky Higgins." Her newest video, "Getting Organized with Kids' Stuff" is a great place to start organizing all your kids' school stuff.

Some more awesome links:
Now, you can start thinking about a school album!

Project Life meets our FI♥AR LapJournal:

Photos + Our Story

Five in a Row (FI♥AR) is a literature based curriculum, in which we read a book five days in a "row" and do learning activities, focusing on a different subject each day, based on the book. 

 A LapJournal is. . .

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

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

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! 
Since I discovered Project Life, it has been my intention to put all my photos of our learning time together into a Project Life album; however,  I originally thought I would only add samples from our lapjournal and keep them separate (and I may just do that with our journals pictured above), but my goal is to have Project Life replace the lapjournal.

When I started working on a current family album this year, I started thinking about ways to include our school in my Project Life album.  Right now, I am just experimenting with different ways to make it work. I am learning through trial and error, but will share a few things that have worked for me so far.

(Note: I was originally going to wait for Project Life to release their school album, but I couldn't wait!)

What's working?
  • having my supplies out at all times - I keep a table (folding table from Costco) with all my supplies on it and several baskets with supplies in them. 

Here is my school table. . . 

 I added another folding table to the right of the changing table. (I love this set up!).  The top of the changing table now houses extra pages for PL and the bottom pull out houses albums and supplies.

(I also have 3 Creative Memories albums upstairs that I hope to redo someday - I will probably cut the edges off and drop them into 12x12 pages since the pages are falling out of the strap hinges.) 

  • 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, usually.)

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

  • 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. ;-) I'm still using some printable packs from Homeschool Creations and 1+1+1=1
  • deciding what will go in my albums - a trial and error process right now.  I try to keep the things that are most special first - 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. 
  • documenting each day in a draft blog post - I take 5-10 minutes each night to make notes about what we did that day and often include dates (I sometimes add a tag to the photo with a caption before I upload it too). Then I use my blog post to do my pages. 
  • typing narrations as my little ones give them to me.
  • keeping a Pages document (on my Mac) formatted for journaling cards (see below).
  • 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 works for me.  
  • 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.  
  • printing narrations, journaling cards ahead of time while waiting to print photos (see below).
  • mixing it up, being flexible, and trying to keep it simple! 

I am including some school in my family album - it is a large part of who we are! I include our school room, school photos and curriculum choices, and more. . . but I am keeping our Five in a Row pages in their own album, otherwise I will run out of room in the family album! (Each album holds 60 pages). 

I do plan to include a photo in our family album that reflects our row that week, so we can see when and where in our life we rowed a book. (I also share that in my FIAR posts with a link to my family blog for those who like to see our life "behind the scenes.")

(I am behind in posting, but try to post our week on my family blog first, and then share on my learning blog - it keeps me accountable and plugging away on what is important to me!)

Here is a gardening page from last year that included a photo of Malachi doing his copywork for our row of The Story of Peter Rabbit

(My focus in this post has been on Five in a Row, but I am also including our learning adventure with Sonlight in my album and can't wait to share what we have been doing! )

Extra supplies I use: 
  • scissors
  • rubber cement
  • small corner rounder (I have this one and it matches the corners on the PL journaling cards nicely) and a medium corner rounder (similar to this one and use it on the 6x6 pages).  The corner rounders are optional, but I like the look of all the edges rounded and not just the journaling and title cards. 

  • date stamper (my date stampers came with my original Project Life kit, but you can find them at any office supply store or on Amazon). 

  • white, colored and textured cardstock (I buy this at Walmart for $5 a pack). I buy the 12x12 so that I can cut it into 4 6x6 or 6 4x4. I've wasted a lot of cardstock using 8.5x11 (leftover from my lapjournaling supplies). 

How to print on journaling cards:

To print on the journaling cards, I created a 3x4 box in Pages (Mac equivalent of Word) and printed it.  (I can fit 4 - 3x4 cards on one page and 3 - 4x3 cards.) Then I use a little rubber cement (removes easily and cleanly and is archival safe) to glue just the top of the journaling card down on top of the box. The cards are just a bit smaller so I do not worry about printing the box on my cards, but if you make it true to size, then you will need to remove the box before printing. Then I create a text box and place it in the 3x4 box. By that time, the card is dry and I put it in my printer and print. Then, I peel the printer paper off the card (to keep from bending the card).

Here is a tutorial that uses Photoshop . It looks very similar to how I do it, but she uses Photoshop and double sided tape.

Just so you know, I am not tech savvy! If I can do it, then so can YOU! I do not use Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. I use Pages for printing and designing, iPhoto and Picasa for photo editing, and Picasa for making collages. (Picasa is a free download from Google - love it!).


I have a Canon PIXMA MX870 Wireless Office All-in-One Printer. I don't use it to it's potential, though. I have Airport Extreme and I can't scan wirelessly to my Macbook so I have to use a flash drive. I don't print photos on it, but it has the capability. I didn't pick this out for any special reason - I bought it at Costco to replace an earlier model I owned that had a paper jam I couldn't fix. It has separate ink cartridges, so that you only have to replace the color that needs replacing. They can be refilled as well as places that offer that service (like Cartridge World).  But, I just buy my ink at Costco ($54.99).


I have a Canon EOS Rebel T1i. Love, love, love it! I also have the Canon EF-S 55-250mm Telephoto Zoom Lens. (Perfect for getting up close, without actually getting up close!).

For you iPhone users, there are Instagram pages in the works! Be sure to read Becky's Blog - she has a Creative Inspiration Team and shares more about this on her blog.

Photo Printing:

I print my photos at Walgreens. I watch for a coupon code online (I get an email that tells me of new specials), order when prints are 10 cents each, and pick them up locally in one hour. I've been having trouble with my last few orders, so I will probably have them shipped to me next time (which is only 9 cents each and free shipping if you order 100+). I've seen some good deals from Shutterfly and others, so I will be shopping around.

To order my photos, I upload them to my online Picasa album and send them to a print provider. However, if there was a way to upload them from Picasa to Shutterfly, I would do that in a heartbeat so that I could try a digital album. A Shutterfly album is required for Digital Project Life.

To conclude. . . 

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! But my purpose is to "cultivate a good life and document it." Project Life and blogging work naturally together to help me do that!

I have a fun row to share with you and what I think are my funnest pages yet, coming up!