Saturday, July 04, 2009

Paper, Paper Everywhere

I don't know how most homeschooling families do on the paper issue, but we seem to have our shelves, boxes, and floors FULL of papers all the time--reports, worksheets, drawings, worksheets, and more worksheets. And we use an online curriculum! But they provide worksheets we can print. And then there's extra math worksheets you can download. And maps to mark. And vocabulary pages. And....

Paper Everywhere.

I tried just printing ONE set of worksheets and sticking them in sheet protectors in binders and having the kids write with dry-erase markers on the sheet protectors.

The kids didn't know the difference between dry-erase and permanent markers.

And they took the sheets out of the sheet protectors. Or the sheet protectors out of the binders.

And binders tend to pinch little fingers.

And that's a lot of binders!

So, as of this week, we've gone on a paper reduction diet. Now, instead of printing worksheets for the kids, I open the pdf on the screen, zoom in as much as the kid needs, and hand them a marker (any marker, although you might not want to go the toothpaste route required to faithfully remove permanent marker from computer screens). They work their sums, fill out worksheets, match polluters to their effects...all right there on the surface of the computer screen. I check the worksheet right there on the spot, and then we use a very slightly damp paper towel (the kids swear spit works best--so don't kiss our computer screens if you come to visit!) to wipe it all away. They even can work out math problems in the tests by writing on the screen.

Hooray for washable markers and glass iMac screens!

I can't say there's no paper waste anymore. It's really hard to do one of the kindergartner's beloved cut-and-paste worksheets on screen. But we have greatly reduced the print-and-trash cycle around here.

I suppose the downside is the kids will have much better handwriting on vertical surfaces than horizontal. Maybe they'll all grow up to be teachers....

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