DIY Homemade Poetry Notebooks

Over the past year, I have made numerous notebooks and journals. I’m practicing and developing prototypes to sell, but I also enjoy making them with The Tornado. Truth be told, she isn’t as excited about making them as I am, but she loves having personalized books for her notes, detective work, journaling, and now, her poetry.

We have been studying classical poetry and have been writing our own. In fact, we recently wrapped up our author study of William Blake and I had an idea to create  our own poetry journals to keep track of our own creations, as well as phrases/poems that we read and enjoy. I have kept a poetry/quote journal on and off for as long as I can remember and it’s fun to look through some of them now and reread what I have written/found.

Here’s how to make your very own composition-styled notebook at home. This is a long tutorial so take some time to read it before you dive in to making one.



  • Glue: Elmer’s Glue-All or PVC Glue or Mod Podge. I love Mod Podge but for notebooks, but when I am making them for everyday use (not to sell), I just use Elmer’s. I also use Elmer’s Stick Gel Glue for the spine and embellishments.
  • Magnetic Cutting Mat & Magnetic Ruler: Save your tabletops and keep your lines straight with this. I have a separate green one for fabric and use this one for paper.
  • Ruler: You will need a second ruler, too.
  • Utility Knife: This is self explanatory, but you will need one.
  • Binder Clips: I would never be able to do any of this without these. I am a shaker, so this helps me steady myself.
  • Stylus: This is a double sided pointy tool and used for poking holes. You can use anything you have on hand, but if you can buy one, please do. It will save your sanity.
  • Nail file: Just use an old worn out one. You will need this for smoothing out your page edges.
  • Pencils: Just one with a sharp tip.
  • Decorative Tape and Scissors: Self-explanatory
  • Embroidery Thread and Needle: Any color is fine. You will also need a needle (medium size).
  • Paper Cutter: (not pictured) but you should have one of these if you find it difficult to cut straight (like me).
  • White Printer Paper: Regular letter size.
  • Photo or Scrapbook Paper: I used a photo from an old calendar. I tend to recycle paper and other materials.
  • Heavy-Duty Card stock: I buy mine on sale at JoAnn’s Fabric.
  • Piercing Block: I use my old iPad case but you can use anything that does the trick.

[Read more…]

Learning to Write Essays Without Calling it an Essay

I’ve struggled with when to teach essay writing. Mya is eight and while she writes blog posts and journal entries, the concept of essay writing seemed a bit daunting. But, she kept asking me how to write one and, because I am trying to incorporate more child-led learning into our homeschooling, I agreed.

Years ago when I was a high school teacher, I discovered that children have a natural aversion to writing essays. They seem to freeze in fright with the mere mention of the word and the results very rarely reflect their skill or knowledge. So I decided to avoid calling what we were going to do an essay. I simply said that we were going to answer some questions. That meant saving my favorite essay graphic organizer, the Hamburger, for a later date.

Mya has been reading Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. Her interest in Greek Mythology mirrors my own so I’m happy to discuss these books with her. A few days ago she asked me why people think that girls are weak. That prompted a discussion about the stereotypes that society places on boys and girls. And that led to a comparison between our world and that of Riordan’s- a perfect opportunity for an essay. [Read more…]

Web Design and Technology

Hardcoding her first web page

I am a techie. always have been. For some reason, I was able to understand computers and from the moment I used my first one back in 1988, I just knew what to do it. I’m a self-taught web developer and I love having the ability to make computers do what I want. Suffice it to say that my love of technology is a large part of how we homeschool. We have an iPad and use several programming apps. My daughter knows how to type and understands the parts of a computer. She knows how to type and she even has  a blog.

Today, she designed her first web page. I am teaching her HTML, CSS, and PHP and we are hard-coding our pages and putting together a course that I may offer to others.  We will be focusing on design principles and writing valid code, but we will also have fun. My hope is to have her create a book review site for children that will run on a CMS that she builds herself.

The Tornado's First Web Page