Workbook Hack!

‘Workbook’ might be a four letter word in your house.  Given the child, though, they can be time and sanity savers, and some are even excellent educational tools.  Now if only they didn’t cost so much, or use so much paper, esp if you don’t know if just want to try a curriculum out for a while and see how it fits, or just use a few pages to fit in a specific unit.  ‘Wasting’ that money and paper for what might only be a few pages can be hard to justify, though.  Even if you pass them along to another family, having erasures on the first few pages is still less than ideal.

This is the jam I found myself in this winter with my new Instructional Fair Using the Standards math series.  At $13.00 a pop at our local Barnes & Nobles (please don’t close, please don’t close), I was loathe to buy each of the four books in the series for each of our girls, but there is good stuff in there, darn it!  I got one of each book, but then they sat here.  Did I want to make photocopies of each page we were going to use, plus a spare so their brother doesn’t feel left out?  That’s not only a lot of money in paper and ink, but a lot of recycling processes for sheets that might only take 30 seconds each to do;  the cost-to-benefit ratio was kind of sketchy.

I wanted to be able to have the kids share the workbooks, and still keep them nice, both for Buddy to use eventually, but also to pass along as others have passed things on to me.

First I thought about the reusable write and wipe pockets from Lakeshore, which would be *awesome* if using a homemade curricula, or one that came in a binder, instead of a book.   Using these would mean tearing the worksheets out of the books though, and while I wouldn’t be using any more paper or ink than they were made with, I would be destroying the workbooks, which would be a bummer.  Yes, I could save the sheets in a binder, and even organize the four books all together, but I know myself: pages would get lost or damaged, and that uber-organized binder would still need to be redone when Buddy’s turn came anyway, so why bother? 

Then inspiration hit.  I might sometimes complain about how little sleep I get cosleeping with a still nursing Buddy, but I do get some good ideas in the wee hours of the morning!  I could keep the pages in the workbooks, looking nice, use no more paper or printer ink than they had already used, and spend less money than I would on the Lakeshore covers.

How?  Report covers!  Remember those plastic folders we all used back in middle school that had the long skinny plastic binder part that slides down the side once your report on gorillas or whatever is already tucked in the clear plastic taco/folder with your nice little title page showing through, complete with illustrations?  If I ditched the sliding part, and turned the cover backwards, so the folded edge was on the edge of the printed page, and  sandwiched each page for the day in one such taco, I could outfit a workbook out for write and wipe by one and all! 

Report covers keep workbook pristine, but kids can go to town!

We tried it the other day, and so far so good!  I might tape the center, abutting edges (where pages meet in the middle) of two folders together if Buddy is really going to be doing a lot of erasing mid-stream, since he rucks the pages some otherwise, but the girls had no problem whatsoever.  Now I’m covering pages in advance, the folders stick out from the book some so we don’t need bookmarks, and Buddy likes being my big helper by cleaning them all off for me at the end of a lesson.  (I could trim them down to fit exactly, but this makes it easier to find our spot, and to get them on and off.)

Added bonuses?  My perfectionists can erase their answers until they are happy with the way they look, and we can extend the lesson *on the same page* without having to erase or draw anything over again!  Buddy loves ‘writing’ in the books just like his sisters, and I can go back and review/re-do with any child that needs it. 

This might *totally* be a reinvention of a very standard wheel, but, just in case, I figured I should share it with you! 

Less paper on my desk/in our recycling bin + more money in my wallet = Happy Siggi!

(BTW – if you are nervous about using wipe-off products due to the offgassing of the markers, those are old school.  They now come in low odor, plus you can get Crayola wipe-off crayons, or just go washable, with Vis-a-vis markers, or washable crayons or markers!  Wipe off tech has come a long way, Mama!  I love it!)

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One Response to Workbook Hack!

  1. Great idea! I have HS friends who use wipe-off sheets the same way but I never stopped to think of exactly how. I’m filing this in memory for the future. 🙂

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