Purchasing PDF instead of Pre-Printed
One of the questions I see asked all the time on the facebook group for The Good and the Beautiful is about whether people print their own materials or buy the pre-printed versions. I have seen the pre-printed materials, and they are beautiful. They are printed on quality paper and the color is amazing, as is the spiral bindings. They are truly quality materials. That said, I purchased all PDFs for our items to save money and to have the resources digitally.
Do I Need To Print?
I have found that we don’t need paper copies of everything anymore. Don’t get me wrong. I love the feel of a book in my hands. What I don’t love is the amount of shelf space I have to have to keep everything and organize it. So I was thrilled when we found TGTB had a PDF option.
The prices on all the materials are unbeatable, but the PDFs also had the benefit of saving us a little bit of money. That’s always a bonus! It also means that both my kids can have the Big Book of History Stories and their language arts readers on their Chromebooks, and we can read the pages together on our devices or they can read them separately on those days when they have just had enough of each other. (Please tell me we aren’t the only ones that have those days!)
Choosing What To Print
With The Good and the Beautiful, I am selective and don’t print everything. I know some moms chose to print only pages that need writing or to use a notebook. Those are all good options.
I chose to print the Language Arts books in full, as well as the Student Explorers for History. I printed only the relevant pages from the Arthropods and Space science units and bound them into a “Science Notebook” along with blank and lined pages for their journal entries and drawings.
The Great Debate – Inkjet or Laser?
I have and use both an inkjet and a laser printer. I prefer the laser because it prints and duplexes faster. I think the ink cost is fairly comparable between the two when averaged over time, but mainly because I have been buying generic ink for the inkjet at $12 for all the cartridges together. The last time we purchased laser printer ink we bought the brand name for a cost totaling as much as the printer.
The main difference is that the laser printer ink literally lasts us years, while the inkjet needs specific colors replaces in a month of heavy printing. If the laser runs out and I wasn’t planning for it the cartridge cost can be a big hit to the budget, but I can usually swing the $12 to replace the inkjet cartridge. Sometimes you just have to work with what’s in your budget at the moment. 🙂
So Many Paper Choices
I print the covers on cardstock to give them some heft once they are laminated. The full-color covers do take quite a bit of ink, so I have thought about using simpler typed covers instead, but there is something motivating (at least for me) about having a pretty cover.
I print the inside pages on regular printer paper using the duplex option so they come out in a stack in order and ready to be punched. I prefer a little heavier paper, but it can get pricey. I suggest going with the heaviest non-cardstock paper your budget allows, but remember that these are just consumables and not family heirlooms. Don’t fret over using basic copy paper – that’s what most of ours are printed on and they have worked out just fine. 🙂
Once the front cover is printed, I laminate it with my Scotch laminator on the 5 mil setting. I line the paper up so that the top right corner is close to the edge of the lamination because a full laminated page won’t fit in my ProClick machine so the extra lamination needs to be trimmed. Lining up the top right edge means the edge I trim off is against the binding and away from fingers, etc. It isn’t really that rough. It is just a matter of preference. I also laminate a blank sheet of cardstock in the same way to use for the back cover to protect the pages. I re-use the plain back covers as we print new books.
After I trim the extra lamination off of both the front and back covers, I use the ProClick to punch the binding holes. Because the lamination is thick, I only punch covers one sheet at a time.
Once they are punched, I lay a ProClick binding out, bending it together slightly to make it easier to close and lay the cover on the left and the back cover on the right. This way I can place the inside pages in as they are punched.
I find it easiest to lay the stack of printed pages on the right side of the ProClick. Since the machine only punches small amounts of pages at a time, it is done in batches. I pick up a small handful of pages – maybe 5-8 at a time – and slide them into the ProClick between the middle alignment marks.
I think it is easiest to slide the punch mechanism from top to bottom, so I always start it at the top. It does work both ways though, so that’s a personal preference. I also find that it punches the best when I put a good amount of pressure on the mechanism, pushing it down into the paper so to speak.
Once I have punched one set of pages I move it to the left of the ProClick and place it face down to create a punched stack. I just repeat this until the book is all in the punched stack. It usually only takes a few minutes for a whole book.
Once the pages are punched, I divide the pile in half, placing half on the front cover side of the binding and half on the back cover side. This seems to help to close the binding, in my opinion. Then I pick the binding up, letting the pages fall to their respective sides.
I find it helpful to use my fingers to close some of the binding, especially at the top and bottom, and then run the ProClick tool (included in each pack of binding) over it to close. Then just flip the pages back of the closed binding and voila! Beautiful book.
Adding or Removing Pages
What makes the ProClick binding preferable to spiral for me is that we can add or remove pages as we go. We have removed some of the History student pages so the binding wasn’t in the way while we colored and then put them back in once my kids were finished.
I love that we can add artwork as it is made. We also use this method for our history notebooks and the “My Book of Stories and Writing” created in the language arts units. I let my kids create their own covers and I laminate them the same way as the printed ones.
Have you thought about printing your own materials? What binding do you use? Share with us in the comments!