I had thousands of conputer files of printables and several plastic bins of folders containing laminated cardstock manipulatives, just saved for whenever my son might need or want them.
Then I realized my son had somehow jumped from preK work to solid elementary – with fluent reading and writing and advanced math…and all those printables were just taking up space.
Then, I threw out all our printables and changed the way we learn.
I spent tons of money on paper, ink, and laminating when my middle girls were little.
Printables worked for us then.
Now that my kids are growing up, the printables are boring and are met with eye rolls and just simply ignored.
I really don’t have the storage space for all those bins with files of 3-part cards, file folder games, and cutesy literacy and math activities. We move frequently with the military, and downsizing is a necessity.
It’s very freeing to throw out things I don’t want or need anymore – trash, recycling, charity.
Printables can be a good introduction or substitute for learning about places, events, or people when you can’t travel to experience those things.
Also, I’m not into household printables either. I know they work for some people, but after years of trying and wasting so much paper, I am no longer in denial. I have come to terms with my preference to leave no paper trail.
The cute meal planners, household notebooks, artsy colorful day planners, adult coloring book prayer journals are just not for me.
I prefer my Excel spreadsheet for our budget and keep the synced family calender on my phone app. I plan meals based on what I can find that looks good at the commissary and local shops. I typically do the heavy shopping twice a month, around pay days. I have a simple notebook for prayers and scripture writing.
We also request companies to email us statements rather than send us paper bills in the snail mail.
Lessening our paper output is better for the environment and helps me maintain my goal of having a simpler life.
Here are the paper items we still love to use:
We primarily use notebooking for assignments and assessment.
The kids have informal journals for art, travel, and writing. We also keep journals for dictation.
I print relevant notebooking pages for history and other subjects. These are more free-form than worksheets, allowing my kids to write about what they found interesting. We often complete these after traveling to summarize what we experienced and learned.
The girls still use their planners where I write their weekly reading assignments and reminds.
We still complete workbooks for spelling and Bible, because they’re easy and working for us. We still do Singapore math workbooks. My high schooler is completing VideoText math. We all use Apologia science textbooks as guides into real science learning.
But almost everything else we do is experiential learning.
Here’s how we learn without printables:
We read a lot. Like, a whole lot.
Our entire curriculum is based on books – literature and history and living books.
Books are super important to me and I want books to be important to my kids.
I don’t want anything dumbed down – we read the real book, not some comic book condensed version in modernized language. We have real dictionaries and encyclopedias and bookshelves in bedrooms and the school room full of great reading material. We max out our library cards weekly.
We like to watch videos on Netflix, Amazon, or YouTube that coincide with our studies.
We often compare/contrast the movie to the book.
Video is very important to studying history. It’s the only way we can see it other than in photos or by traveling to view the monuments, museums, and landscape. We also like how many videos bring history to life. My teen and I watched Saving Private Ryan before our Normandy trip.
We like to travel to experience what we’re learning about.
We love to visit museums and natural wonders for art and nature study. I often center our travels around art museums.
We visit churches and castles (every chance we get!) to study architecture and church history.
We are loving living in Europe to travel to places in history we’ve only read about!
We will go back to Paris for early modern studies. We toured an antebellum house and Stone Mountain when we studied the Civil War. We lived in Hawaii for three years and learned the effects of missionaries and plantations on island culture.
We will try to go to Berlin for modern studies. We went to Dachau and saw an American cemetary in Luxembourg where Patton is buried. We recently took a trip to Normandy and toured the D-Day museums and monuments.
We visit botanical gardens, aquariums, museums, and zoos for science. We also love nature hikes.
We complete art projects to learn about culture.
We created lovely vases by glass blowing in the Black Forest.
We painted Papier–mâché pots when we studied ancient Greece.
We made henna handprints when learning about India.
We created illuminated historiated initials when learning about medieval Europe.
Throwing out all our printables makes me feel so liberated!
Learning by experience helps my kids remember more than just playing with paper.
I love the direction our homeschool is taking!
I challenge you to make a positive change in your home or homeschool. De-clutter, try a new curriculum, do a family read-aloud, or choose a new technique. Tell me about it!
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