25 uses for index cards

I am in love with index cards. Have been for a long time. They are just so, well, handy. There are whole books devoted to using them in your homeschool, but here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • Flash cards. That’s a no-brainer, right?
  • Matching games.
  • Making puzzles.
  • Making 3-D objects.
  • writing out lesson plans.
  • collecting ideas for a paper or a book. they can be shuffled in any order until you are happy
  • Phonics: putting parts of words on cards to match up together.
  • Mental math. Put answers on cards and scatter on the floor. Read problem aloud and when they solve it they pounce on the right answer.
  • Life size board game. Put directions on index cards and create a path through the house. Use big dice and the kids become the playing pieces, following the directions on the cards.
  • For preschoolers: pictures on the cards help them communicate their feelings. They can point to the face that matches how they feel.
  • Use them like soccer warnings. They get cards as discipline. Green, then yellow, then red. You can assign discipline as your family sees necessary.
  • Create a flip book.
  • Write chores to check off.
  • Cut a slit in the end and wind stray ribbon on it. The slit holds the end of the ribbon.
  • Keep a grocery list in your pocket.
  • Lay several out and draw a road on them. Now your boy has a portable road he can assemble anywhere he goes.
  • Make bookmarks for a friend.
  • Recipes. Put one on the quick bread you give to a friend.
  • punch holes and they become lace up cards.
  • Keep a card file organized by month. Use it for birthdays, seasonal chores and other monthly duties.
  • Use them as little canvases for mini fridge art.
  • Make a countdown calendar. Number and decorate the cards and put them in order. Fold one card to make an easel and lean the cards on it. Each day the kids can move the card to the back and see how many days are left.
  • Make a speech. Practice it and then give the speech in front of friends and family.
  • Write or draw your clothes on the cards–Bottoms, tops. Mix and match to create new fashions from your same old clothes.
  • Write your memory work on the cards so you can put them in your pocket for memory work on the fly.

25 creative notebooking ideas

Notebooking is one of the best ways to demonstrate your individuality in your lessons. But sticking some worksheets in a binder is not true notebooking. You must generate the material yourself and it is a reflection of you, not simply a regurgitation of someone else’s thoughts.

In case you find yourself in a rut, here is a list of creative expression. You can also download the 25 creative notebooking ideas here.

  • paper folding
  • portraits
  • write a story and illustrate it
  • collage
  • mosaic with construction paper or magazine pictures
  • drawings
  • cut outs
  • silhouettes
  • rubber stamping
  • stickers to add to a picture or draw around
  • photographs
  • coloring pages
  • printable fonts that can be colored
  • pockets to put things in
  • door or flaps to hide things
  • pop-ups
  • paintings
  • rubbings or impressions
  • CD recordings of kid’s voice, documents, music, video, etc.
  • fold out pages for long projects
  • sew paper
  • create an award
  • cut words and letters from newspapers or magazines
  • create a small book and place in a pocket on a page
  • paper weaving

If you want to add to the list with something that you have tried, please leave a comment so I can add it to this list.

Commonplace books

In my studies recently I happened upon a type of “notebooking” that was fascinating. It combines two of my favorite things–notebooks and traditional books (which I happen to be passionate about making!). I am such a book geek that I had to learn more.

Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines it as:

Commonplace-book, a book in which are registered such facts, opinions or observations as are deemed worthy of notice or remembrance, so disposed that any one may be easily found. Hence common-place as used as an epithet to denote what is common or often repeated, or trite; as a commonplace observation.   

It’s taking a topic, such as sewing, literature, a branch of science or cooking and creating your own special book about it. It may include tables or charts, definitions, clippings, quotes, measurements or your observations. Some well known commonplacers included Thomas Jefferson, John Locke and Ben Franklin.  Jonathan Edwards also kept a commonplace book. 

Read more here and here.

Some modern uses for commonplacing may be for remodeling your home, landscaping or gardening, scrapbooking, reading an important literary work, fiction writing or Bible study. They can be invaluable resources for a life full of learning. And they can become treasures that your kids can fight over after your funeral!

 And of course, I will endeavor to make some commonplace books that are uncommon. If you are interested in a unique commonplace book customized to your special topic, please contact me for details and I’ll make a one of a kind commonplace book you will treasure for years to come. anna at bluebonnetbindery dot com

The rewards of notebooks

Notebooks are not a new idea. Many of the founding fathers kept notebooks of their lessons and discoveries. What is so special about notebooks, as opposed to, say, workbooks? I say a lot.

Productivity. A notebook is not simply a container of a child’s work. It is a tool for learning and self-government. It requires the child to be a producer of education and not a consumer of information. The child is an active part of the learning process.

Developing character. Notebooks are also a tool for character development and an excellent education. These traits include stewardship, diligence, patience, perseverance, faithfulness and satisfaction.

Self-education. The child must learn how to learn, and a notebook will do that. These notebooks are filled with their own thoughts and reasoning. I encourage my children to take ownership of their ideas. When they are comforatable with that concept it will be easy for them to take on more of their own education

Scholarship. The child must write and produce their own work, as opposed to consuming a workbook. They are required to write down their own thoughts and ideas and to do it well. Neatness counts! Standards are a good thing. Children like to know what is expected of them, and notebook standards give them a goal and parameters, which also foster scholarship.

Reasoning. It requires thinking, and sometimes a lot of it, to produce and to learn. I know my kids sometimes act like their brain froze up when they are required to use their “reasoning muscles.” But I also have noticed that my 4th grader has come a long way and doesn’t shut down like she used to. She wrestles hard sometimes to reason out an answer. That is encouraging and wouldn’t happen if I were not using a notebook.

Reference. Hopefully your notebook will be filled with things, especially as they get into the upper grades, that will help them in other subjects and other areas of interest. I know one young lady who came home for a break from college and went to find her French notebook. She said it was to help her in her college class because some of the material was already there, giving her an edge. Another young lady I know has made notebooking such a lifestyle that even though she is out of high school she still makes notebooks for her interests. When she went on a missions trip she created a notebook her whole team could use as a reference, with maps, history and more on the country they were visiting.

Mastery. We are not slaves to the notebook, but masters. It is our tool to use as best fits us. It will help strengthen our weaknesses and highlight our strengths. And also a notebook helps us to master a particular subject.

Individuality. Of course notebooks are an expression of our unique thoughts and are our own intellectual property. My children love to peruse their notebooks from time to time and appreciate all the hard work they have done. They enjoy reflecting on projects and lessons they enjoyed, and also to remind me of things they weren’t crazy about. Some families keep electronic notebooks, some keep more like a scrapbook. There are lots of ways to express your individuality and education. Notebooks don’t simply have to be filled with written papers. You can include CD’s of audio, DVD’s of movies you make, printouts, foldouts and pockets, photos, art of all kinds, the list is really endless. Celebrate your family’e education, don’t just endure it.

The 4th R and prayer

I had a light bulb moment that I can’t believe I’m admitting here. I have created a prayer journal. This is a spare notebook with dividers and notebook papers to put all thoughts of my family and friends and other things to pray over. I am so excited. And as a prayer leader and avid notebooker (the 4th R), why am I not doing this already? ummmmm……

Sometimes the simplest things can elude you. I have been trying to pray from memory, writing thoughts on little pieces of paper, sticky notes and old receipts. What a way to record people’s most important needs! I should show these requests more respect than that. And how on earth would I ever be able to note the answer, given that I can even remember to pray before I lose it.

Well, now all those issues are resolved. I have little dividers to keep things organized, and a home for all those precious requests, with room to record the answers. So from now on, if you ask me to pray, take comfort that you will be added to my little notebook. And I will ask you about it later, so we can rejoice in God’s answer.

5 reasons to keep a prayer journal

  • place to track your prayers and answers (insights, scriptures, etc)
  • it is scriptural to write things down
  • it will help you in your prayer time
  • following up builds relationships
  • to have a record of God’s faithfulness

Principles of God’s Biological Creation

These are helpful for planning your science lessons. The list is not exhaustive, but almost anything you will study can be found here. If you are new to the Principle Approach, reading through these can help give you an idea of a subject’s principles and how they are found. As you can see, the seven Principles of America’s Christian history aren’t found here (from David Holmes of Heritage Christian Academy).

Principles of God’s Biological Creation

1. God created the elements, each one a distinct individual, with specific arrangement and numbers of parts, so that they can work individually or in complex combinations to form all the material universe, especially to perform those functions necessary for life. Gen. 1:1, Gen. 2:7

2. God’s creation will show evidence of having a master designer, not the appearance of chance happeneings. This will be seen in the complexity of life and the fact that many systems will be similar throughout the creation. Job 12:7-9, Rom. 1:20

3. Eveywhere God’s creation will show the evidence of order, not chaos. 1 Cor. 14:40, Gen. 1:31

4. God’s creation is complete and finished. Matter and energy can neither be created nor destroyed. The world is designed so that only transformation, conservation and preservation are now taking place. Gen. 2:1-3, Ex. 20:11, Neh. 9:6, Heb. 1:2-3, 2 Pet. 3:7

5. The creation is deteriorating because of the entrance of sin into the world. Processes in nature will always eventually go towards less order. Variations in God’s original design, because of deterioration, will cause harmful effects. Gen. 3:6, 14-19; Is. 51:6; Rom. 8:20-22; Heb. 1:10-11

6. Elements, molecules, and cells are capable of producing motion, resulting in locomotion of the whole organism or the internal motion of the parts of the organism. Gen. 1:2

7. Living organisms consume nutrients, break down the nutrients, then build bonds between the elements and molecules to make the materials necessary for growth, repair, energy, and control. The waste products will be eliminated for conservation. Gen. 1:29-30, Ps. 104:14, Matt. 6:11

8. Life activities depend upon a constant supply of energy, obtained from the breakdown of bonds in food molecules. In animals this is accomplished by adding oxygen to food (respiration). Gen. 1:29-30, Gen. 7:22, Acts 27:34

9. Life can only come from pre-existing life, which originated with the creative hand of God. Gen. 2:7, Ps. 33:6-9, Acts 17:25-28, Heb. 11:3, Rev. 10:6

10. Life activities require complex sequences of chemical reactions which require a balance in the amounts and concentrations of the chemicals in the organism.

11. Chemicals are complexly organized into structures called cells which make up all living organisms, and carry on their functions, either individually or in larger systems.

12. The individual or diverse parts of an organism will work together with unity to make and benefit the whole. 1 Cor. 12: 12,18,24

13. The information needed for all life and all life activities must be passed from cell to cell and from generation to generation. Ecc. 3:20

14. God has created a system of control for life activities which invloves a complex series of interconnections between all parts of the living creation. The basis of this control is DNA, and its ability to make proteins. These controls operate at optimal efficiency despite changes in the internal and external environments.

16. Organisms are capable of growth, and do so by an increase in cell number, accomplished by cell division, or by an increase in cell size. Gen. 2:9, Ecc. 11:5, Luke 12:27

17. Organisms are capable of reproduction. They can make other organisms like themselves (asexual) or similar to themselves (sexual). God has allowed for certain created kinds with diversity within the kinds. Gen. 1:11-25, 8:17; Lev. 11:13-32; 1 Cor. 15:38-39

17. God has chosen to use men to uncover the truths about His creation, on a timetable according to His sovereign plans. Dan. 2:22, Amos 3:7, Eph. 1:11

18. God created man in His own image, apart from all other creations, with a body, soul and a spirit. Man is now responsible to God in salvation, good works, subduing the environment, and being a wise steward of what God has given him. Gen. 2:7; Rom. 10:9; Eph. 2:10; Gen. 1:28; Ps. 8:6-8; Ps. 24:1; Prov. 27:23,26-27; Rom. 14:12

19. All organisms have a life span and will eventually die. Eccl. 12:7, Heb. 9:27, 1 Pet. 1:24

20. Compliance with biblical principles will always result in an improving of the biological situation, whether it concerns plants, animals, or man. Ex. 15:26