I don't know about you, but I am always looking for something to keep my kids quiet and occupied during church, while traveling, and any other time we have to wait anywhere for any length of time. I've got some busy kiddos, and I'm sure the people in the church pews in back and in front of us appreciate the effort. :)
When I came across these darling dry erase activity books by icandy handmade, I thought it was brilliant, and couldn't wait to make some of my own. Instead of using a binder, and sliding coloring and workbook pages inside sheet protectors (which is a great idea), I decided to make them differently, for a couple of reasons. First of all, I wanted mine to be smaller, so they would fit more easily in a diaper bag, purse, or church bag. I also wasn't sure how long the sheet protectors would hold up with my four little kiddos, and since they aren't super durable, I wanted to try a different method. I created half sheets, laminated them, and used book rings to hold them together. I bought some dry erase crayons to use with it, and I wish I would have bought them sooner. I LOVE LOVE how they turned out, and my kids are crazy over them. It's a hit!
These would also make super fun gifts for any child--birthday, Christmas, or just because! Add learning worksheets, word searches, coloring pages, church-oriented pages, and more. These are easy to personalize for any age, and a great way to keep kids busy and entertained. I love that they can be used over and over again, and easily cleaned up.
Here's how I did it!
- printables of your choice, saved as images
-white cardstock (not textured)
-laminator (or access to a store that does laminating, i.e. Staples or Office Max)
-book rings (3 per book)
1. The first thing you'll need to do is search online for the printables you want to use in your book. I ended up making three separate dry erase activity books, because there were so many I liked! All of the ones I used were free for use, and the link are at the bottom of this post. Some examples? I used coloring pages, word searches, learning worksheets: money, telling time, counting by 5's, etc., alphabet, numbers, colors, shapes and a lot of pages that were church oriented. My boys are 3, and my girls are 6, so I targeted those age ranges. I wish I could share the file I created, but many of the free printables I used have restrictions against re-sharing them online.
When you find a printable you like, the key is not to open the printable to a full page to print it like you might normally do, but to SAVE THE PRINTABLE AS AN IMAGE--as large as you can. Save it to a folder that you've designated just for the dry erase books--it will save you a lot of time. Why save it as an image? Because we want it in half sheets, with all images the same size, and we need a way to put two printables on one page for printing.
Let me show you an example:
These are the number printables I used. Instead of clicking on the link to download and print, I clicked on the image itself to enlarge it.
I right-clicked on the image, chose save as, and saved to my designated file. You have to make sure you are able to enlarge the image, or you may not be able to use it. There were just a couple of images that didn't enlarge, and were just too small to use. This site was perfect! The images ended up being the exact size I needed, I didn't have to re-size them at all! Plus, I was able to click all the images along the bottom of the page that you can see, and save them--so easy!
2. Once you have all of the images you want, you're ready to create your document for printing. I used Word, so my directions are specifically for that program, but I'm sure you could use something compatible. Open a new document. Format it to landscape orientation, make the margins as small as possible (top, bottom, and sides), and finally into two columns (in this order). Insert your images, and re-size to fit the space. Repeat with all of your images. I ended up with 50 pages, lol.
I also created a fun and simple cover page, and you're welcome to use it if would like it! It's also already formatted as I explained above, so you could just use this and add to it if it makes things easier! I also included my complete file, so you can just print and laminate!!
3. Now that your document is finished, you're ready to print! I used plain white cardstock that I bought in a package of 110 sheets at Walmart for around $4. I wanted something thicker than plain paper, so it would be a little more sturdy, but not so thick that it wouldn't laminate easily. Just make sure you don't use anything textured--that will be too thick.
4. Using your paper trimmer, cut each piece of cardstock in half, separating the two images. If you cut them exactly in half, it would make them 5.5 inches wide. I took off an extra 16th of an inch from the side that was originally in the middle of the whole paper (in the example above, between the bee and the apple). I did this so the two halves would easily fit in my 8.5 x 11 lamination sheet, plus leaving a little for a border in between them.
5. Time to laminate! I have to say, my laminator is one of my most favorite possessions, and absolutely worth the $25 it cost!! This is the one I have:
I bought it on amazon.com, and it has been one of the best investments I've made. If you do a lot of laminating, or would like to, you may want to consider getting one of your own. I can guarantee I would have spent a lot more paying per project to get things laminated!
I wanted to have activities on each side of the pages in my book, so I put two half sheets back to back together in my laminating sheet. I did that twice, so that I was actually able to fit 4 half sheets total on each page. I made sure to put the pages back-to-back that I wanted together in my book, because once they're together, there's no changing things, lol! For example, with the alphabet, I had A and B together, C and D together, and so on. I also grouped all the coloring pages together, learning pages together (and into sub-categories, like colors together, shapes together, money together, etc.) and church pages together. I laid them out in groups of two ahead of time, just to make sure it was the way I wanted it.
Here are my sheets laminated--with two just like it on the back:
If you take yours in to get laminated, follow the same procedure: Trim them as outlined above, and direct the store to laminate them back-to-back. Laminating them like this will not only save you money, but will allow you to fit more pages in your book without it getting to thick. If you want specific pages together, make sure you paper clip them together, and let them know.
6. Take your scissors and cut the laminated pages in half! Organize them as you want them in your book(s). I decided to make three books for a couple of reasons--first, with over 100 images, I had 50 sheets, and that was too fat for one book. It also means that more than one child can be using one, which is essential at our house. :)
7. Once they are organized how you want them to be, use your hole punch to punch three holes down the side of each page. To punch in the same spot on each page, and ensure even spacing, this works wonders: punch your first page, then use it as a guide for each page after that. Just lay the punched page on top of the un-punched page, and punch!
8. Slide the pages onto book rings, then add a little ribbon for fun! I can never resist ribbon, lol.
9. Now you're ready to use them!!! Get ready for some excited kids! I found the dry erase crayons at Walmart for around $4. They are washable, and come with a cloth to clean your pages. It works okay, but I've found that a baby wipe is perfect, removes all traces, and I always have one in my bag or car. ENJOY!!!!
My Henry just couldn't wait until it was time to use them!
There are so many free printables out there, so no matter the age of your child(ren), you can find plenty of options. As a starting point, I've included a list of all the sites I used as a reference and starting point.
Links I used for images/printables: