Custom School and Life Planner

Well, it seems like just yesterday I was posting the last installment of my Life Management Binder, when in reality it was over eight months ago.


And here I find myself at a juxtaposition.  I still really like the binder I made, the system worked great for me, and I LOVED the size – especially when it came to stashing it in my purse.


Here’s the problem I faced, as a homeschool mom, I had no where to plan lessons, keep track of school related to-dos, projects shopping lists, or anything like that.  I ended up creating a separate three-ring binder for my lesson plans, and by the end of the school year last year found myself totally disorganized regarding school related items.


So, I wanted to combine the two… I started shopping.

I’ve said before I love the look of Erin Condren Life Planners – but man, the price tag – and it still wasn’t customized really.  Personalized yes, but customized no.

Somewhere in there I also realized that what I needed was a school planner, not a life planner.  I needed a place for school stuff!  I did more research and actually bought a copy of The Well Planned Day, a homeschool specific planner. 

When it arrived, I opened it up, and it dawned on me – it didn’t have a “normal” calendar area.  DUH!  This was a teachers planner, not a life planner that included teacher stuff.

I shipped it back.

I did more research.

I forced to conclude that what I wanted doesn’t actually seem to exist anywhere.  I wanted a full and total life planner.  I wanted something that would combine my daily calendar and my lesson plans.  Extra awesome bonus if it looked pretty, and free cookies to all if it also included areas for my cleaning lists, notes, birthday lists and other stuff.

Yeah, no such thing exists.

So then I came to the conclusion, if thats what I wanted, I’d have to make it… 



Then began the hunt.  I started going back through my Pinterest boards, looking for stuff I’d pinned when planning my Life Management Binder, also looking for homeschool planner stuff.

In the end I found two things that really helped – extra bonus they had free downloads too.

First I found Mama Jenn and her Homeschool Planning Pages.

I love that her pages have a system that easily translates into planning out Inara’s workboxes, as well as divisions in the actual subject areas for two part lessons.

Next I needed a day planner.  Something with a full week, space broken down for scheduling during the day, a to-do list area, and a place for small notes (like what Inara’s AWANA verse that week is or something similar)

Enter Miss Allison’s Art, and her homemade planner. Extra bonus here, the download documents are totally customizable, and she shows you how she put hers together.


Downloads in hand (or on disk) I spent some time customizing the planner sheets to include what I wanted.

Then, I printed.  I printed one set of each download and did some tallying.  I figured out how many weeks of active school we have, and thusly how many homeschool planning weeks I needed.  Then I subtracted that figure from the number of weeks in a year.

I figured out I’d need 33 sets of school planning pages and 19 sets with no school planning pages.

Off I went to Office Max.  The nice guy there helped me figure out the self-serve copy machine and I made back to back copies of what I needed.  As I flip through my book first I see the weeks day planner (our normal family planer), then when you turn the page it’s the weekly homeschool planner.




Next I needed to figure out what the rest of my planner needed.

In the end I had six sections that would need to be divided out.

Off I went to the craft store next, on the hunt for “pretties”.  I hoped to find a nice card stock scrapbook page for the cover, but nothing caught my eye.  Instead I found a “normal” type scrapbook paper with fun rainbow style diagonal lines.  I took the theme and ran with it.

I bought the scrapbook page, and also sheets of solid colored 8.5×11 card stock following the ROYGBV color pattern.  I also grabbed some extra purple (my favorite) for some decorating.

I trimmed the rainbow sheet and glued it to the red card stock.  Found a template for a marquee shape and using MS Word, that template, and my extra purple sheet I created a design for the front cover.


On the inside of the cover, I printed out and glued on a basic at a glance style school year calendar and also used the same (although much smaller) marquee for a name plate.

IMG_8746I like a bold outline, so using a sharpie I outlined the marquees and the calendar, I added it to the pile to be laminated (more on that in a second)

Right after the cover is my cleaning list areas.

I used my trusty FlyLady plans and printed out my daily routine, weekly plan, and detailed zone lists, all of which would get laminated.

The next section went behind the orange sheet and has about a dozen pages copied back to front for notes.


Next up, behind the Yellow divider is my first school specific section.  Here I included the curriculum shopping list for the year, our school supply list, and a school years worth of monthly reading logs.

IMG_8751 IMG_8752 IMG_8753


Behind the Green divider is a copy of our school’s academic calendar.


In the Blue section is my family birthday and anniversary list


And then lastly behind the purple section is where my actual calendar and planer pages are.


After I had everything copied, printed, organized, and planned, I went to our local teacher store and laminated what I needed laminated.  I laminated the cover to try and keep the pages glued together longer, the cleaning pages so they could be used as checklists with dry erase makers, the school academic calendar for longevity, and the same with the birthday list.

After everything was laminated, I went back to office max (or maybe it was Office depot the next time) and had them bind it for me.  I chose a black plastic spiral binding, and also paid the extra couple bucks to add a nice sturdy clear plastic cover over the front of the whole thing, and a black plastic cover on the back to add stability.


All in all, I spent several hours of my time, and somewhere between $40-$50 for supplies, laminating, and binding.

In the end though, I have a 100% customized whole life planner for the school year that I LOVE.  In the month since I finished it I’ve used it lots, and can’t wait to see how it holds up over the course of an entire school year.  The only thing in hindsight I didn’t include and wish I had was an area for menu planning and shopping lists.  But now I know that for next year. 🙂



So, uh, two months later…

I guess I took a bloging break for the summer. 🙂

Well, this week we did it, we started the next adventure – Kindergarten!  Inara has been loving school, she comes home happy and excited every afternoon, so far her favorite parts are Gym, Recess, and riding the bus.  She says she is meeting friends, but can’t remember any of their names lol.

Also new this week, Awana.  Thursday was Inara’s first night at Sparks, and she seemed to have fun, but for her the jury is still out.  We’ll give it a couple weeks and see how she feels after going a few times.  In the mean time though, we’ve been working on her scripture memorization.

Over the summer I have been working on just this thing.  We started trying to memorize scripture with her last year durring homeschool and it didn’t work out so well, so I started doing some research and (re)discovered the Scripture Memory System from Charlotte Mason.  I remember looking into this (or something very similar) a couple years back, but then never did anything with it.  The way this works, is that it’s self guided and builds over time.  There are several different “categories” for your scriptures to go into that build over time, but essentially you start with one scripture, and you work with it daily until you’ve got it down, then it moves back a category so you are working on it every other day and you add a new passage to work on daily.  When you’ve got the new one down, you move it into the opposite every other day category and add a new one to daily, then you work towards adding scriptures till you have one daily, every other day, and once per week, then again daily, every other day, weekly and once per month.  There is a video on the Charlotte Mason site (linked above) that explains it all much more clearly.

Confession, I love the idea of stuff like this, but then the actual implementation is halted because I’m too lazy to make all the cards and dividers you need.  Bonus – the Charlotte Mason had a set of printable PDFs for all the dividers – All I had to do was print them out!  I also then chose to laminate them prior to cutting, just to make them a bit more sturdy!

The next step was to figure out what versus we/I wanted Inara to learn over time.  I did A LOT of googling, looked at lists on the Charlotte Mason site, The Navigators, compared lists from our homeschool curriculums, and from random internet searches, and ended up with a HUGE list of old and new testament versus, and some full chapters for memorization.

Next step: make the cards.

1) I have not so awesome handwriting

2) I had a BIG list (that’s not even all of it in the picture^^)

3) I wanted them all to look the same

4) I’m a bit OCD/Anal Retentive when it comes to #3

So, I went the next obvious choice.  I typed them all.  I set up a template for 3×5 “cards” in Word, and set to work.  I made three different sets, Old Testament, New Testament, and Long Passages.  I chose NIV for the default translation and set to work – it took a while between formatting and the fact that there were just so many, but eventually I got them all done.  Next step, print and again laminate for longevity.  I  chose to print them all on white card stock and took my HUGE pile (including the dividing cards at the same time) to the teacher store and laminated my heart out.  Then I had to cut them all apart.  I also chose not to include the long passages at the time, I figured as it was there was PLENTY there.

I was excited to jump in.  I got them all organized, picked out which verse to start with, and set them in their box on the table.  I don’t think it was two days total before Inara “reorganized” them and they were a mess.  I was so frustrated that my work was all messed up I just walked away from it.  What took me at least two weeks, just sat in it’s box and went untouched for at least a month and a half.

Well, a big part of Awana is scripture memorization, so I jumped back in.  I sat down the other night, and reorganized my dividers, took out the old cards which we had done NOTHING with and stored them away.  Next I went back to the computer, I’ve spent the last 48 hours looking up the scriptures for memorization for the Awana program and putting them into word.  Yesterday I went back to the teacher store with a new pile, laminated and spent last night cutting them all apart, and getting them into our storage box.

I also included in the Awana sets a list of which versus were included on a 3×5 card so we could know how close Inara was getting to completing the goals of each workbook.  I highlighted any versus that were included in multiple Awana sets as well.

Also included in these sets are listings of the books of the Bible for memorization or review.  Now we are all set to tackle Awana’s scripture memorization.

The best part, you can benefit from all my handwork!  I linked to the PDF copies of my scripture sets.  I haven’t finished all the Awana sets (I intend to include all three Sparks, the Cubbies, and possibly those from higher levels as well) but what I’ve got done is yours to take.  For the Awana sets all versus are in NIV (I know you can also chose NKJV and KJV for Awana, but we picked NIV) and in the original sets, they are NIV unless otherwise marked.  All versus were copied from for version and referances.

Original sets:

Old Testament Verse Cards

New Testament Verse Cards

Full Chapter Bible Cards

Awana sets:

Awana Sparks HangGlider NIV

Awana Sparks HangGlider NIV book versions (abbreviated)

Awana Sparks WingRunner NIV


Summer sanity

Durring the school year, weather you homeschool or not, there is a schedule simply made by what time your kids start and end school, what activities are going on, and any activities you are doing.  Summer starts and that all goes out the window.  In some families there is even more going on (swim lessons, gymnastics, sports, vacation, and others) in some families, it’s a chance to take a break from a lot of things and have more relaxed days.  For me, either way, things seem to get more chaotic.  Either we are running all over the place doing all sorts of stuff, or we are home several days in a row and Inara starts bouncing off the walls with cabin fever.  It’s too stinkin’ hot here to just send her out to play all day like I did growing up, and without structure she ends up watching TV all day getting more and more antsy.

Enter the summer schedule.  When we are doing homeschool, I use a schedule strip to keep us on track.  A few months back I expanded that and made a second schedule board for Inara to use all day because she is a girl who loves routine, structure, and to know whats happening all the time (so NOT her momma).  It’s been great, but I have found both through general use, and especially now that we are in “summer mode” some changes needed to be made, so today I took our regular schedule strip/board set up and revamped it to be more summer friendly as well as to include a few more things that were missing before.

I also have a place in the center of our board where I keep the current bible verse we are working on memorizing.

The way our board works is that I print all the activity cards out as well as two blank grids (I’ve included a download below of our cards) and then laminate them.  You can do this at home using clear contact paper, peal and stick laminate, or a home laminator.  My preferred method is actually to take them to my local lakeshore learning and use their self laminator it’s only .29 cents per linear foot so you can do a few pages for under a dollar and the results are fantastic.  Then I cut apart all the little activity cards leaving the blank grid whole.  I attached my two blank grids to a peice of poster board but do whatever you want, I’ve seen them in binders, on clip boards, tacked right to the wall, hung on a magnetic surface you name it.  You just want to make sure that they are firmly attached because of the next step.  Using self sticking velcro (either dots, or long strips you cut to size) put the same side of velcro into the center of all your blank grid squares and the opposite side onto the center back of all your activity squares.

I keep our extra squares in a tupperware container on a shelf next to our board near Inara’s chore sticks (post coming soon on those)

As we go through the day, she takes off the card she just finished and puts it into the container.  Be wise though parents in letting your kids have this accountability with their schedule, I’ve caught Inara more than once, taking off two cards at once if she doesn’t like/want to do the next activity in the list (namely chores) so be aware of whats coming up so you notice if something doesn’t happen.

TA-DA you are all set to make a fully customizable daily schedule.  This is perfect for kids who don’t read yet since it’s all graphics, and it allows every day to be different (something I find to be true year round, not just in the summer), and I love that there isn’t a time associated with it, so if Inara want’s to play with her dolls for two hours awesome, if she only stays occupied for five minutes, great onto the next thing.  I do limit TV shows to one (or maybe two depending on what’s happening) episodes at a time, but otherwise it’s however the day goes and if she’s done everything and is at bedtime at 6pm great, if it takes till 9pm thats OK too.  Also, because of the free flow of the day, things can easily be added, removed, or rearranged depending on what’s going on, behavior rewards or punishments, etc.

Download our schedule set in PDF form here: SummerSchedual

Like I said, it’s our set so most of the figures are girls, and the shows featured are our favorites (mostly the educational ones) if there’s something you want let me know and I’ll see what I can come up with. 😀