A Pretty Notebook Post

I can’t resist showing you my home education planning notebook! One of my favorite rituals is rethinking and redesigning my planner notebook at the beginning of each year. This planner notebook really is only for notes and ideas pertaining to home education. It is a simple (1 inch) 3-ring binder. It’s pretty non-descript really…white with those pockets all the way around, but a notebook is one of the best ways for me to provide a place for random slips of paper, ideas, internet resources, plans, lists, and inspiration all in one place. Of course, you know that I could NOT leave it as just a plain white notebook!!!! Oh no!!!! Scrapbook paper to the rescue! A pretty notebook is a must!


Hobby Lobby was having their big scrapbook paper sale, and I fell in love with this pretty black and creme toile! I added a few inspiring quotes and voila! Inspiring and fresh notebook for ideas, inspiration, and plans!

I had enough paper left to cover a few of my favorite spiral notebooks which I adore and use all the time! I found these great notebooks (my brother uses them all the time and I found them delicious!) and found that they are available at Walmart and Staples. If you’re curious and searching, the brand name is Ampad Gold Fibre Project Planner. I love these notebooks!

I’m using my smaller Ampad notebook to journal some thoughts, plans, and ideas for high school. Our offerings will continue to simply be a natural extension of what we’re already doing, just wider and generous. This requires some thought and planning on my part though…particularly in the area of science.


I added a small pocket with a little scrap of scrapbook paper on the inside front cover of the notebook. I thought this would be a frugal way to use all the scraps…and a smallish pocket can never be a bad thing!


If you’re wondering – I’m using contact paper to adhere the scrapbook paper to the notebook (I also use a bit of double sided sticky tape applied directly to the scrapbook paper to adhere to the cover). I also used contact paper to make the pocket – it is only attached to the cover along the bottom and the left side. The right side and top are unattached.

This is what the inside of the project notebook looks like…


Here’s my crazyidealistmakingscribblingnotebook. It’s big and has a cover that opens from the top rather than the side…great if you’re a lefty, which I’m not, but I thought I’d mention. The size of it is great for a variety of lists….


…and I have a particular talent and fondness for making lists! LOL! I start booklists here…to-do lists here…library lists here.


Let’s take a tour of the planning notebook, shall we?


Here you can get an idea that this is really just one of those simple 3 ring notebooks that everyone has in their supply closet…or maybe…I just have an abundance of them, and all of you are more normal? I have…ahem…a lot! In a variety of sizes. And I use them all.the.time!


Is there a place left unadorned – NO! On the inside front pocket is one of my favorite Goethe quotes! Keeps me focused!


I used whatever I had available in my supply closet. The actual dividers themselves are just pocket type dividers without tabs. I’m using Post-It brand index tabs to label the individual sections. My, but those Post-It people come up with some amazing things, don’t they?! I like these because they’re repositionable (so I can add and change sections anytime during the year) and I like that I can position them across the top of the dividers rather than down the sides. This just works better for me in storing it in my basket.


It makes sense that the first section would be the most frequently used section – the daily routine or rhythm. This section is where I keep my daily plans which I build in iCal.


The next section contains all the plans I use with Sweet Pea’s Literature for the Young Lady.  I can flip through it and journal notes there and add start and end dates as well as refer to it to see how she’s doing.


The next section contains all my resources used for faith, religion, and the liturgical year – I keep our AngelFood coordinated with Baltimore Catechism lessons chart, liturgical calendars, the Catholic Mosaic booklist, ideas and internet resources used for celebrating the liturgical year here.


Beyond that, I keep a section for containing *science ideas and nature study* resources. You can imagine this section sees a lot of use as the internet is such a treasure of resources for seasonal studies.


My History plans are next. I’ve already described how I build booklists for history reading through particular periods. Once I have a booklist, I sit down and build reading and project plans. I divide into units of days by century. This helps my planning not to get sooooo bogged down with plans for day 127 of history! I list reading plans for each child, as well as read alouds, timeline/book of centuries work, audiobooks, and history projects. I refer to these plans on a weekly basis as I journal our plans for the week.


The next section is entitled Kinder-themes. I pull lots of stuff off the internet for the little Peanut. Sometimes I come across a great idea I’d like to consider more, sometimes I find a neat puzzle, Enchanted Learning has a bunch of great printables. I keep a working list of Montessori presentations in here as well. I print and add it to this section and when I build his little themed area I have some resources already printed for him.


The final section I have labeled for Inspiration. There are just some ideas you come across that need a place to land so you can consider them over time. I might not be able to act on every organizational idea I find, but those that really inspire me go here. I consider them, brainstorm them, creatively consider ways to implement them with the materials I already have on hand. This section of my notebook is important for me!

Hope you enjoyed the little tour of my planning notebooks! What do you use to organize your plans, inspiration, and ideas for home education? Please tell me you all have a cache’ of 3 ring binders squirreled away like acorns! Tell me I’m not the only one! LOL! 🙂

Happy Notebooking!

EDITED TO ADD…more pretty notebook happiness:
An Ordinary Home Seeking Splendor Meets a Design Notebook
The Beginning of a Thing…Folders and a New Notebook for Planning 

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  1. This is so AWESOME! (as my kiddos would say) Toile is my favorite fabric. I have always had visions of doing a whole room in it! I know it sounds tacky, but I love it! I think I might have to steal your book idea, if you don't mind of course! You are so talented!

  2. I did so enjoy looking at your planning books. What a nice treat for the homeschooling mom. (thanks for reminding me that we need something nice for ourselves too!!)

  3. I am anovice notebooker… my eldest is just four and we are really beginning our home ed journey this autumn so i bought a divided notebook for notes and inspirations and planning ideas, but nothing so fabulous as yours.. not sure where to get those in the UK so no, sorry I don't have any squirreled away, have plenty of pretty notepads though!!

    P.S., your morning basket post was printed off and added to my inspirations section and now has scribbled notes all over it…. it will be a 'sunshine basket' in our house, a little bit of sun every morning on those damp winter days!!

    Thanks, Jenni

  4. I've never thought about decorating my notebook. Hmm…I've got lots of beautiful scrapbook paper….

    Where did you find your Liturgical Year wheel calendar? I love its simplicity!

  5. I'm so glad if you all found an idea here you could use in organizing and setting up a home education notebook!

    Let me see if I can dig up that old file with the liturgical wheel on it…my mom made it in 97! If I find it I'll send it to you!

  6. I stumbled upon your blog and LOVE it!!! Thank you so much for the school room pictures. They were such an inspiration to get my engine going for this year!

    Also, My husband and I have invested in a ton of 3 ring binders! We really like the “notebooking” method. Like you said every little scrap of paper can go in there. I, myself am a born sucker for school supplies and office supplies. I love this time of year when they are plentiful!
    Your ideas remind me of Dawn's over at By Sun and Candlelight.
    Have a productive and fun school year. Your children are blessed to have you as their teacher. Pay attention kids, you have a rare treasure in your mom.

  7. They call people like you “Binder Queens”, and I think it's a fitting and noble name. LOL My binders aren't decorated per se though I use white binders with the see through slipcovers. I add personalized (scrapbooked) and decorated 8 1/2 x 11 sheets into them and a matching label into the built-in spine pocket. They look lovely…all in a row on my bookshelf, and each year I just renew the front cover page for the children, keeping the older ones as completed scrapbook pages.

    Love your organization Jenn! You are a kindred spirited lovely woman who truly blesses so many with your blog. God bless


  8. Thank-you so much for making the ministry of education beautiful, your style is inspirational and yes, I too have a binder stash–enjoy the day!

  9. Wow, Jennifer! Once again you are an inspiration! I have a TON of binders squirreled away too! My husband used to work for Corporate Express and when they shut down they just gave away an awful lot of binders! We got like 3 boxes in the garage! So I am good for a few more years 😉

    Thank you for all the tips you give us so freely! You are a priceless (and high favorite) resource!

    Thank you and God bless.

  10. I love the pretty notebooks! I use basically the same system, but my notebooks are not nearly as neat and pretty to look at!

    What kind of Montessori resources are you looking for? We use almost exclusively Montessori at home as my husband is a certified Montessori instructor and he has sold us all on the method! I had a K last year at home and some of the things we did are up on my blog if you search back (I'd actually search by Aidan Michael or a specific subject area instead of just homeschool or montessori). Otherwise I have started posting 1st grade stuff.

  11. Wow! I'm blown away – so many good ideas to follow up on. I've enjoyed planning in the past, but this year I've had a hard time focusing. Thank you for your inspiration.

    I've been working on having a schoolroom this summer and I was thinking of sharing what I came up with. Now I think I'm going to follow your lead and blog it!

  12. Dear Jen,
    I wanted to say earlier in the week how lovely these are and to print it out for future reverence, but I wasn't able.

    I have also appreciated your prayers recently too. Thank you ♥

    I feel blessed that you share so many of your wonderful ideas with people.

    I have passed on a loyalty award to you on my blog in appreciation for your support.♥
    God Bless

  13. Your notebook is a wonderful inspiration to me. Thank-you for sharing it. I am going to get some paper today and get started. I have such a hard time with time management and routine and I love when others who are good at it share their talents. I appreciate how detailed your post is.

  14. How pretty! Thank you so much for sharing again, Jennifer! I love visiting here…it is such a pretty and restful place to consider my spaces…I always feel enlightened and not overwhelmed!

  15. I am not sure exactly what contact paper is. Is it clear sticky stuff that goes on top of the paper? Also, do you fold the edges of the scrapbook paper into the inside cover, or do you trim the edges flush with the edge of the notebook?

    Another big fan of your blog. Lovely school room. What care you take with your work.

  16. Nicole,
    Contact paper can be found very inexpensively in the office supply section of any store. Contact is the brand name for a roll of clear, plastic-like sticky paper that works wonderfully well in covering paperback books and the like. Think of it as manually laminating….if we don't laminate it around here, we probably contact paper it!

    As far as the covers, I measure and trim them exactly to fit the covers then wrap contact paper around the back side of the cover almost like you're wrapping a gift.

    Practice on a tiny little notepad you tuck in your purse if you need to.

  17. Thank you! I always liked those project notebooks, but the covers, yuck! Great idea to try a small one for practice; I was worried about bubbles, which, of course, would be tragic (!).


  18. Oh I just love notebooks and all school supplies! I'm a good list maker too! I just love it when I check things off my list, it's such a satisfying feeling. Thanks for all the great ideas. You have a beautiful blog.

  19. I really, really like this notebook! I am trying to figure out a new system for household routines, as well as liturgical-year ideas, and now I will be homeschooling my preschooler this fall. My older two go to Catholic school, but it's good to keep their stuff close by, too. I also looked over your iCal tutorial, and it is great! I had no idea iCal could be so helpful! What a tool!

    I just recently found your blog, and it is so inspiring! Thank you for all the ideas … I am sure I will be visiting often. God bless you!

  20. P.S. In iCal, do you even put your daily schedule (like rise time, meals, chores, bedtime routine, etc.) And if so, are you very detailed? I'm trying to work out a new schedule for fall, and I'm wondering if I should just give it a try in iCal … =)

  21. Hi Sarah!

    Thanks for stopping by!

    I do have an iCal calendar with details for the daily schedule on there. It starts with wake-up time, and I list morning chores, morning devotions, meal times, prayer pegs during the day (morning prayers, Angelus, Divine Mercy Chaplet), Quick Tidy time in the afternoon.

    I am pretty detailed under my morning chore listing, because as you know, if you don't explicitly ask for something, kids won't do it!

    >> “But MOM, you never said I have to wash the sink out.” << So, I list the chores for each child explicitly!!!! I don't add much to my iCal plans beyond dinner because the evenings here are pretty static…dinner, clean-up, family Rosary, read-aloud, bedtime. Occasionally, we have time for a board or card game. Since evenings move along at a fairly predictable rhythm, I don't add them…unless…it's baseball season…then I add more details because organization equals survival!!!! Hope this helps! Have fun with iCal!

  22. Thanks so much for answering my questions. I've been playing around with iCal a bit today, and I think I have something that I can at least try out, as we ease into the school year =)

  23. hello there!
    thank you for such a helpful post!
    Please may i ask where you found the liturgical year & jewish festivals wheel? it is fantastic!

    Kind regards

  24. Lynn,
    I am so sorry it has taken me so long to respond to your question!

    The Liturgical Year Wheel is something my mom made several years ago. Unfortunately, she can't find the file on her computer. I'm hoping to scan it in soon and make it available. I'll post here when I do that so keep watching.

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