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Recording your Homeschool Memories

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.


"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.


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