Time Savers for Interactive Notebooks

I am so in love with our interactive notebooks! I have been using them for three years and I have learned a thing or two about making the most of our notebooks with the small amount of time that we have. If you have tons of extra class time and nothing to fill it with, this might not be the right blog post for you. ;-) But if you want to use notebooks and struggle with the time they take, I hope these tips will be helpful.

Please tell me that I am not alone...but there is always a handful of students who cut so slow that I have to use all of my will power to keep from grabbing the paper and cutting it myself! Part of the awesomeness of interactive notebooks is that kids are cutting, glueing and moving. So I don't want to take that component away completely. But, I am not opposed to giving them a head start to save a little time!

When you print out a page for students to put in their notebook, there is always blank space around the outside edges of the activity. You can cut down on the time that it takes students to cut out the activity by using a large paper cutter to trim the edges.

This is so fast for me to do and saves lots of precious class time. I also recommend sending them home to be trimmed by a parent volunteer! I sent an email and asked if their were any parents who had a large paper cutter who would be willing to occasionally trim papers. My scrapbooking mommies volunteered!

Glue sponges are a huge time saver! I keep them at my small group table. Students can quickly push their paper into the sponge rather than dealing with rolling glue sticks and disappearing lids!

The glue sponges are super simple and cheap to make. Just head over to The Kindergarten Smorgasboard to learn how. He even has a video. But seriously, it is just liquid glue poured over kitchen sponges!

I love that my kids are cutting and moving, but I hate notebook activities that take longer to cut than to complete the actual skill. Some activities include cutting cute clip art that doesn't add to the meaning. Some notebook activities have lots of circles or odd shapes to cut. This takes so much longer! Before you buy a notebook, examine the preview. Look for kits that include primarily straight cuts. I also like kits that have similar cuts from one page to the next. Once my kiddos know how to cut out flaps, they are so much faster the rest of the year.

Thi is an example of one of our notebook sets and you can see that the activities have straight cuts and similar cuts. This saves tons of time! If you want to see more of my notebook sets, just click HERE.

Yup, you read that right. Put the crayons away. Interactive notebooks are awesome, but they are NOT art projects. When I first started doing interactive notebooks, I always gave my students time to color the pieces. I love to color. Most of my students love to color. But is this the best use of my limited classroom time? Nope! If you allow your students to take their notebooks home (which I don't until the end of the year), they can color at home. Or maybe you allow them to color when everything else is complete. But, I highly suggest that you do not take class time for coloring your notebooks. I actually print my pieces on color paper. Now my students don't even ask if they can color them. :-)

Now with some activities, color actually helps students with the given skill. Obviously, that is a totally different story.

My students did color their fraction bars because it helped them when we were comparing fractions.

Using your bell work time for cutting is a huge time saver. You can train your students to know that when they see a notebook activity on their desk in the morning, they should cut it out. Tape an envelope into the back cover of their notebook. This is where they should put the notebook pieces after they are cut. Later in the day, when it is time for centers, they will be ready to do the activity because the cutting is complete!

This tip is especially valuable later in the year when students already know how to cut the notebook pieces and have gotten quicker at their other bell work assignments.

If you have never tried interactive notebooks before, maybe the end of the year is a good time to get your feet wet! Then you will be ready to go full force next year. I promise that once you start them, you won't look back!

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