I began downloading free printables from many wonderful sites about six months ago. (From: 1plus1plus1equals1, Homeschool Creations, and Mamas Monkeys, check out Blogs I Love for more suggestions of awesome sites!)
I actually didn’t even have a printer. I started out with printables about shape and colors and other random fun things. And I had them printed out at, can you believe it, Office Max, for gulp, $.49 per page?! I almost bought a printer right there in the store at that first printing session (I spent about $40, which was ridiculous), but I decided to wait, wait, wait. Finally, I bought an early Christmas present for myself and bought the Epson 545 Workforce from Amazon for $99!!! I love it! I have since printed over 1000 pages… and…. counting and am only on my second set of Epson Ultra 127 cartridges (the Extra High Capacity ones).
This new obsession came in my third trimester — my baby girl was born in later September — and I was busy, busy, busy trying to get things “done” for John’s Tot School which we officially began with alphabet weeks at the beginning of this year! Really, before then, my son was not interested in using “printables” and when I tried to put them in front of him, he’d throw them and the manipulatives that I set out with them. I knew that when he was ready, I wanted to be ready too.
I didn’t know how I wanted to organize all the craziness, so I started out with a white binder and sheet protectors. Fail. Things were falling out and I couldn’t fit all I wanted into one sheet protector (for example, all the “shape” activities I had would get all bunched if they had a paper clip or were in a little baggie).
And then a choir of angels began to sing when I found Carisa’s Storing Theme Printables post! She came up with the most brilliant way to store all of her printables! I have followed her advice and used the following method:
- Buy as many as you can of: the Up and Up brand of envelope sleeves from Target (they come in packs of 5 for $3.69).
- Buy the square canvas bins from Target (I have four bins so far, but I’m sure I’ll need to get more as my homeschooling supplies grow).
- Buy a labeler and label all of your envelopes so they are easy to find! (I found the Dymo brand one at Target for $14.99 just last week and now I can’t believe that I’ve lived without it until now.)
- Print, print, print. (I have been choosy about this and I have only, so far, printed out seasonal themed printables and others, such as a trucks and farms and baby animals, according to my son’s interests; 1plus1plus1equals1 and Homeschool Creations both have so many to choose from, which is incredible, but I can’t print out everything, right….)
- Laminate everything with this awesome laminator and these awesome 100 packs for $9 laminating sheets — so you can use all your printables for all your children (and beyond!)
I love this method, and I have four canvas bins, now, with all my Tot School supplies, one each for: Before Five in a Row-ish reading materials, my alphabet Tot School printables, seasonal and theme printables, and my Betty Lukens bible felt set.
Here are examples of all the materials I put in each envelope: