When T and S attended traditional preschool the slew of paper that came home with scribbles, glitter, or other "beautiful" work was rather large. (I have boxes of these treasures sitting in a closet.) When T and S attended primary Montessori school, very little paper came home. Now that we homeschool and are following Montessori's methods, we don't do workbooks, generally, or print-outs, or worksheets. But I've found that as my elementary children advance they are doing more work on paper.
I don't like messy cubbies with papers of all kinds and colors sticking out in every direction imaginable. It makes me feel dizzy and I suddenly get an overwhelming urge to grab a hole puncher, my label maker, and the recycle bin. (Even when when I see papers that aren't mine to organize.) I wanted to devise a system for our classroom that would eliminate loose papers and organize and archive the relatively small amount of paperwork we do produce.
Let me introduce T and S's working notebooks. These are just smaller spiral bound notebooks that I happened to find in a random box after our move. (These were gifted to my husband who helped put on a college conference in the Boston area a few years back. None of us actually went to RISD. ) These notebooks happen to have a pocket in the front, which serves nicely for the very few items that don't get pasted in, taped in, or written on the pages.
We tape or paste EVERYTHING into these notebooks. Stamp game paper, geometry lesson cut-outs and LBF paper get accordion folded and taped in so that we can unfold it and look at it in place. Things like word problem equations, word study work, and flag illustrations are written directly on the pages.
Most of the time T and S remember to date the pages. When T started working in his notebook on the 21st, he noted the date at the top of his first page of work. If he pulled out his work notebook anytime during the rest of the day he didn't date subsequent pages. The next day when he pulled out his work notebook he'd put the new date at the top of a new page again.
So far, we don't label what each work is called. Sometimes the type of work is obvious...
...and sometimes it is not so obvious. We'll work on titling our work sometime soon. We are taking baby steps here.
S has been doing a lot of daily world problems. Since I don't let her write in the Daily Word Problem book, she notes her "work" in her working notebook.
S is almost finished with her notebook. No, isn't because she does more written work. It is because in the beginning she was choosing random pages on which to do her next work. When I finally caught this, she had already marked a page halfway into the notebook, so I made her continue from there, making sure to mark her work on each next page.
Since S is a lefty I am thinking of getting her either a new steno book, where the coil binding is at the top, or a "lefty-notebook" which could be a bit non-Montessori, since it looks like your are flipping the pages the wrong way. The steno pad could get too thick because of all the items she ends up "pasting" into the book. Humn, maybe a composition book, since that doesn't have a spiral binding. We'll see which she likes.
S likes the daily word problems because she likes illustrating each problem. I guess drawing 40 camel legs was fun.
In the end, when we use work notebooks I don't see tons of paper pieces flying around the classroom. And the kids know that there is one place they should put their written work. I also think it is neat that they will have a real archive of their written work to reflect upon when they are older. And yes, I know that their future spouse will make them throw this away about 20 years after they get married because really, who keeps their school work from 1st grade??