Sunday, August 17, 2014

Made It Monday - DIY planner for less than $5

Well, today is my first official day back!  Students start on Thursday this week.  Getting up early wasn't too bad.  My husband always delivers my coffee before he heads out, making it much easier!  I'm thinking it won't be so easy for my two kids on Thursday.

I'm super excited about my new planner and gradebook spirals.  I've always designed my own lesson plan pages, and have used a binder in the past.  The binder is bulky however, and with laptop and papers, takes up valuable real estate in my school bag.  Plus, this year I'm only teaching ELA.  Last year I made an assessment page for each student, which is nice, but that's 66 pages that also will need to go home often.  I got the idea about making these items spiral bound from a blog post, and found out that Office Max does it for $4.29.  Plus, teachers get an additional 25% off (this week anyways).  The cost includes a clear cover and vinyl back.  The downside is that they are for up to 40 pages.  My planner was a bit more, but they didn't check.  I think the 40 page limit is slightly flexible.

Besides only paying $13.78 for ALL these, I got to make them exactly how I like them.

In my planner are 38 lesson plan pages.  I only need one page a week since I'm only teaching ELA.  Plus, I skipped all the specials schedules, lunch, recess, etc.  There's no need.  We all know this stuff, and it's just a space waster, my pages are for plans only!  All that other minutia is just for sub plans.  So this is my template this year:

Other stuff I included were calendar pages.  I found great free pages from Marshall in the Middle. There are 4 separate downloads for the whole year, but free and cute??  Whatever.  I also have our school calendar, my one page CCSS cheat sheet, printouts of student addresses and phone numbers, and some pages I made for notes and important information.

For my gradebook pages, I have a page for each student that tracks the CCSS through our Wonders series.  See my store for a free document I put together to plan out how I cover this, and for the assessment pages.  I also have some traditional checklist pages, and a few pages that I have student boxes to enter observational information during guided reading, or for speaking and listening notes.  The only thing I don't have here is a place to track writing progress.  This will need to be done separately.  Still looking for a great way to do this!

I am super excited to use these this year, and even more excited to use my new pens.  I think the blogging world is full of great secrets, and I'm glad to be learning them.  My friend Kate knew about these, but I just found them, so thought I'd pass on the info to anyone else.  FriXion pens are perfect for those that hate pencils, but are always changing their minds.  They are erasable, and a big improvement on the old erasable pen technology!  Skeptical, I only bought a 3-pack.  They work, but are a bit pricey.  I did a little research on these pens last night.  The technology is based on heat, which is why the ink disappears with friction when you rub it (hence the name).  Super high heat alone (hot car in summer) can make it disappear, and super cold (freezer) can bring it back!  I tried it last night and it worked.  Super cool...


I certainly hope that I will find time to keep up with blogging once school is in full swing.  I started this summer, and have learned so much!  I now have 25 followers, and my TpT store has gone from 14 to 45 followers.  Since I make my products for myself and students first, I stand by them as being my best quality.  Kudos to those who are conquering multiple grades to make more of a business out of this, but my stuff is specially designed for 4th grade, and it's nice to know that others find my stuff valuable.  My goal was to have 50 followers before the end of summer.  Not sure if that's tomorrow, or Thursday when the students come, or by the "official" date on the calendar, but I'm happy with how close I came.

One last thing, my daughter has also benefited from my blogging and crafting, and has enjoyed making stuff too.  Her latest was for a close friend who is moving away.  I think it's pretty cool and want to share.


  1. I too make my own planner. I have this odd 22 ring binder that I bought a few years ago that I use, but I think I might try binding next year like you did. I also need something totally customizable for my classes and needs. With 6 classes and 150+ students I need it my way.

    I am intrigued by these pens, and although I have finished school supply shopping, I may have to get some.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Kovescence of the Mind

  2. I made my own planner this year too. I just started blogging this summer too! I'm really hoping I can keep it up... I've done a lot of curriculum work this summer so that I'm ahead of the game!