Home / School Communication Binders

If you're like me, your mind has been going a mile a minute brainstorming and working on ideas for the new school year!  One item that is always on my summer agenda is my home/school communication binders... which my class calls EAGLE Notebooks.  I've been using binders for the last 8 years (K-2 classrooms) and I will NEVER go back!  It is so helpful to have everything in the same place... for the kiddos and their parents, plus it keeps all important items ORGANIZED! :o)

What do I include?
First you need to snag a binder for each student (plus a few extras for those unexpected new friends through the year!).  When I first started using take-home binders, I purchased all the materials myself.  Now, luckily (for me and my wallet!) we ask $5 on the supply list for the notebook.  We purchase all the materials and put them together for each child.  When I taught 2nd grade, I used a 2" binder (since I also included a Word Study notebook), but I love the 1" size for kindergarten.   Be sure to get the binders with the clear front pocket so you can slip a cover inside easily.  You can usually get a good deal at Sam's Club or on Amazon.  Right in the front I add a zippered pouch.  We call the zippered pouch our “Bird’s Nest” and use it to store any “golden eggs”—like money and notes for the office.   
 
Next I add a copy of our class handbook, the ABC's of Kindergarten.  This makes it easy for parents to find  answers to their questions throughout the year... because it's easily accessible.  Then I add an Agenda calendar.  I put the entire school year in the notebook at the beginning of the year.  It's easy for students to "look ahead" to dates this way.  The handwriting lines can be used for students to record a highlight from the day's lessons, classroom announcement, homework, or whatever you wish! With younger students, I have had success with attaching a mailing label in this area. 

The Parent/Teacher Communications box is perfect for jotting notes back and forth. The best part is they are all kept in the notebook for easy reference!  The green cover version adds a circle for noting daily behavior and a square for nightly parent initials.  I have marked behavior in 2 different ways:  faces and letters.  We used a purple excited face, green happy face, yellow straight face, or red frown face.  A different year we marked a capital letter Q for being a quality student (or the first letter of the behavior the student had difficulty with L for listening, N for nice, etc).  Click on the pictures below if you'd like to check them out.  




For the kiddos to easily find their place, I use an "Eagle Spot".  I print this eagle picture on both sides of a piece of card stock (inserted into a page protector).  Students simply turn to the eagle to quickly find the date... since the kids mark their own behavior each day with a crayon, this is a HUGE time saver!
After the agenda calendar section, I keep our Nightly Reading. I love these plastic envelopes with Velcro closure.  They are perfect for storing nightly reading books and really help eliminate lost books throughout the year.  Here are two ways I have recorded Nightly reading:  reading clocks and RAH!  RAH!  Read At Home! (what I currently use).  

The last thing I include is a folder.  Our school purchases these folders for every student.  I simply use an electric 3 hole punch.  The Nicky folders are pre-printed inside with Return to School (left pocket) and Keep at Home (right).   I prefer students to use LEFT at Home and RIGHT back to school, so I made these hand labels which I attach to each pocket.  Grab this FREEBIE here!



Tuck a cover into the front, clear binder pocket and you're all set!  Here's what I use for my EAGLE Notebooks and there are tons of fun ones for other topics on TpT (like the ones from Ginger Snaps).  

How will you store them?  
I used to use this wooden rack with storage bins.  I labeled the corner of each student's notebook (by the name label) with a colored dot.  Students simply placed their notebook in the same colored bin as the dot.  I labeled the notebooks on the front and spine to help retrieve them quickly at dismissal. 
2 years ago my assistant came up with a better plan--and she and her husband built us these!!   The notebook slips right into the slot and can be pulled out whenever needed during the day.  The name tag is attached with Velcro right above.  This makes it super easy to switch seats!  Plus, the basket slips right under the little ledge, so it gives more table room.  I LOVE them!!

I got the baskets from Really Good Stuff (although when I just checked I don't see them in the 6 colors: ROYGBP except if you do "Mix and Match").  We keep a 24 pack of crayons, 2 pencils, glue stick, scissors, pink eraser, and a spaceman in here. 
 
Here's a picture from setting up my room last year.  You can see we needed a different design for the rectangle tables where 5-6 students sit (red and orange)--to store more than 4 binders.  
This is the design for the rectangles, where the notebook just slips in the top and stands vertically.  (I'm happy I had this first day picture of them empty... before we handed out the EAGLE notebooks!!









Here's how it looks with student notebooks.


  
Hope this helps you get started with home/school organizational notebooks!!  Already use them?  I'd LOVE to hear how you do it!


6 comments:

  1. Your system sounds fabulous! And those holders are amazing! Awesome job :)

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  2. I love this!! I have a question for you... How do the kids use the eagle spot? Do they put the page protector in the three rings or just loosly in the binder? I hope that make sense!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! The page protector is in the three rings. Then every 2 weeks, we just move the Eagle spot between the next 2 calendar pages (the agenda pages are copied double sided). Let me know if you have any other questions!!

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  3. Hello,
    I have another question for you. How do the binders hold up? Do they last all year? Do you keep them over the weekend?

    Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great question! Yes, they last the entire year and the kids take them home every night (so they are at home over the weekend/holidays). It is very RARE that students forget to bring their notebook to school... it is one of the first ways we practice being a quality student--responsibility! Don't hesitate to ask if you have any more questions!!
      Karen :o)

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