Friday, August 22, 2014

Introducing: My First Planner

For the last year, my 6-year-old daughter and my 7-year-old niece have watched me make planner pages. At first we called them "fancy calendars" and the girls would ask if I could print them off a few pages to play with. They would color pictures in the squares or circle their birthday with a big heart.

During their first year in school, the girls learned more about planners and how kids use them to write down their homework and remember important dates. But when my niece saw the elementary school's planner, she told me it looked way too BOR-ING! She said she wanted a pretty planner like the ones I make in my shop. What can I say…she's a girl after my own heart <3

This summer, the girls sat down with me to talk about what they wanted in a planner. Obviously, nothing in my shop was going to work for a 1st and 2nd grader. They needed something for beginners that would be fun, simple and easy to use.

So, after LOTS of brainstorming sessions over chocolate milk, the girls and I have come up with 

Getting in the habit of using a planner does not come easy to kids (or adults). I actually appreciate the fact that our elementary school now requires kids to use their school issued planner to write down homework and important reminders and have the parents sign off each day. What a wonderful lesson to teach these kids early!

But as my niece said earlier…those planners are a little boring and not something they look forward to pulling out on their own to write in. To truly get kids in the habit…the act of writing in (or playing in) their planner should be FUN! So, that is why we made our kids planner bright, colorful and geared specifically to their needs.

Perhaps the most important page of this set is the Daily Page, which the girls helped me design by simply explaining what they did in their Kindergarten and First Grade classrooms. 

At first, I wasn't going to include a traditional monthly calendar page, but when I mentioned that to the girls, they said, "Well how will we know when a birthday party is coming up?!!! How will we know how many days left until Christmas?!!!"

I mean…duh. They needed a monthly page.

 One of the most important parts of any planner set is having a basic "notes" page, but at the beginner stage, we thought having a "Doodles" page was much more appropriate :) And of course…no planner set is complete without a pretty cover.

My First Planner actually comes with 4 cover options if you consider the two blank versions that kids can use if they would rather write their own name in (you can also convo us for custom cover options and pricing).

Printing and Assembling "My First Planner"

As with all of the planners we offer at ThePolkaDotPosie{Printables}, "My First Planner" is also a printable set, meaning you receive the PDF file and print it yourself at home. Perhaps one of my FAVORITE features of this beginner planner is how easy it is to print!!! Detailed, step-by-step instructions will come with your download and we are always available to help if you have additional questions. 

Once your planner is printed, it's time to decide how you will put it together. In the picture below, you will notice that the planners I made for my niece and daughter are bound with pink discs and a laminated cover.

Our planner has a total of 3 sections: The Monthly Calendars

The Daily Pages

And the Doodle Pages.

The discs I used for the girls' planners are from the Arc System by Staples. I own my own laminator so I simply laminated the front cover page, as well as a back page, and punched the pages using my Arc punch. For those of you that do not want to invest in the Arc punch, some Staples stores (but not all) may punch the pages for you. You can also get your covers laminated while you are there :)

If you want something a little more durable as the cover for your kid's planner, you can also use one of the great covers Arc makes, or you can skip the discbound system entirely and go for a standard 3-ring mini binder. Avery makes several options, as does Target. In fact, Target's mini binders are SUPER cute and SUPER inexpensive.

And finally, another option is to have your kids planner bound for you at an office supply store or printing shop. And that's the great thing about a printable planner…you can set it up however it works best for you!!!

Once your pages are printed and you've selected your binder, you may want to consider finding a way to separate each of the sections of their planner by either using dividers (you can find them already made for any size binder or planner), or you can separate them with paper clips or even page markers. I purchased these adorable plastic Project Life dividers, cut them down to size and then punched them for their planner. I labeled on "Homework" for the Daily section, 

 and one "Doodles" for the doodles section.

 It just makes it easier for them to flip to the section they want to work in :) 

Well, the girls and I hope you LOVE our newest planner design!! Now even the tiniest planner-junkies can have their very own special book. Here's to a bright and organized new school year!!

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go "play planners" with  my girls :)

Monday, August 4, 2014

Get Organized for Back-to-School!

“The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color.” 

~ Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting

A friend of mine shared this quote with me the other day and I thought it was the most fantastic way to describe the month of August. Although, judging by our filled calendar, I feel like the drop to autumn is less like a ferris wheel and more like a roller coaster. Those beautiful blank calendar squares just waiting to be filled with lazy days at the beach are now behind us. So as we reach the top of this crazy ride, I realize it is time to start preparing us for the drop :) 

We have a lot of changes going on in our house this year! My son will be starting his second year of preschool (which will be 5 mornings a week) and my daughter will be starting First Grade! This means busier mornings, packed lunches every day and a list of things to do each evening. So over the next two weeks, I want to start preparing for the craziness by getting my planners updated, getting my house and our routines back on track, work on meal planning and lunch duty and of course, get ready for our FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!! Below you will find a bunch of FREE PRINTABLES and other resources from our shop that will hopefully help you all along the way too :)


Judging by the traffic in our shop the last few weeks, it's obvious that teachers, parents and students are all eager to start planning for the school year. If you don't already have a planner started for the 2014 - 2015 school year, we have several fun options available. In the last two weeks, we've launched our Teacher & Homeschool Planners, our new Student Planners and for those of you that want a more basic home planner to use for multi-tasking, our Signature Undated Planner set is incredibly flexible (and cost effective because you can use it year after year).

This set is also to great to use for a Home Management Binder or Household Planner. We have recently updated all of our FREE Home Management Planner Printables and extras to coordinate with this set! 

This set has a TON of great freebies for your planners, including:

Emergency Contacts
Physician Contacts
Annual Appointments
Annual Renewals
Special Dates
Password Tracker
Updated 2014 - 2016 Holiday List
Cleaning Schedule

It also has a bunch of great list pages, including:

To Do checklist
Books to Read
Movies to See
Things to Make
Recipes to Try
Bucket List
Blank List page that you can use for whatever you want!

A lot of people ask what the difference is between a daily planner and a Home Management or Household planner, and this answer can be different for everyone. For me, the difference is that my daily planner is something only I look at. It's where I keep my schedule, notes and other important info. 

Our Household Planner is something that sits in our office for my husband and I to both access when we need to see the kid's school paperwork and calendars, their activities schedules (for dance, library, etc.), our menu planning (NEW SET COMING SOON!) cleaning schedule, important contacts and notes. I always use 8.5 x 11 binders or notebooks for this planner because it is so easy to punch and file the things the kids bring home from school. I hope to do a special post this on this planner sometime in September :)


I have a love/hate relationship with the word "Routine." By the end of the school year, I am so ready for carefree days and blank spaces on the calendar. But by the end of summer, I am craving it. This summer, all of our routines went out the window, including my cleaning schedule. One of the most important lessons that Martha Stewart ever taught me was that if everything in your home has a space, then everything can easily find it's way back to that space before the day is over. If your closets are so packed you can't squeeze in another folded pair of jeans, or if your kid's toy bins have no rhyme or reason, the likelihood of either of you putting things back where they go is slim.

So I am taking her advice and making "space" for everything we need for school. That means spending a little time reorganizing:

* Bedroom closets and hall closet.
* Coat racks and hooks
* Kitchen cabinets (make room for lunch supplies)
* Office and homework station

I am also going to try and nail down a new weekly cleaning schedule. I have updated the one that is part of our FREE printables and I am excited to start using it!

And speaking of cleaning schedules and household responsibilities, make sure you don't forget about the kids!! Although mine both love their chore charts, we have really let them slide this summer. This week we are going to assign our new chores for the school year and fill up our "reward" bin. Right now, we have several cute designs in our shop and will hopefully be adding more this fall! Check them all out HERE.


There was a time when I was SO good at meal planning. That time was definitely not this summer. Ha! But this school year is going to be twice as busy as last year so I MUST get back on my game. Luckily, most of our planners come with a meal planning option built right into your weekly schedule. We also have some fun daily and weekly dockets that also have space for planning dinners throughout the week. Perhaps my favorite docket for back-to-school is the Workin' Mom Daily Docket. But please don't let the name mislead you. This docket isn't just for Moms who work outside the home. This docket is for ALL moms who have work to do during the day. Many stay-at-home-moms like myself have small direct sales businesses, online shops, blogs and more to keep track of, so this page is a great way to balance all that on one page.

For those of you that want to spend more time with meal planning, we have a fabulous new Recipe & Meal Planning set coming out this month that will have everything you need for planning, grocery shopping and putting together an awesome, personalized recipe planner. So stay tuned for that :)

Planning dinner is a big enough challenge some days, but what about during the school year when you need to be thinking about lunches too? I have a whole Pinterest board filled with cute lunch ideas and when I show these to moms who have been packing lunches for years…they just laugh at me. Apparently most moms don't have time to make ham sandwiches that look like sailboats every day :)

But one thing that these experienced moms have told me is that cute little lunch notes go a long way. I used to LOVE when my mom would slip little notes into my lunches as a kid, especially when I was younger and missing her at school :) There are a million options for free lunch notes online, but I went ahead and made a cute set anyway. My goal for this school year is to share a free sheet of lunch notes every month. But to get you all started for the school year, you can download this set HERE.

These lunch notes can either be printed on card stock and slipped into your child's lunch tote, or you can print them on Full Sheet labels, cut them out and stick them to our child's lunch bag.

I also got a little excited and thought it would be fun to do a printable treat box for special days too :)

 These little boxes are so easy to print and assemble at home and you can fill them with anything. They would also work for teachers who would like to give a special treat to their students (or parents…hint hint…you could use them to give your teacher a special treat one day too :)


My daughter has had her "First Day of School" outfit planned for a while, but my son will leave that part to me :) I get so excited planning the kids outfits for school and I love seeing their fresh new backpacks hanging by the door, ready to go. I know "First Day" and "Last Day" pictures are all the rage now, but having these memories of my kids each year is priceless! But don't wait till the last minute (like I did) to print your signs and get them ready for pictures. Nothing like realizing your printer is out of ink 20 minutes before leaving the house on the first day. YIKES! So now you can plan ahead and download our new Chalkboard First Day of School signs!! 

I am so in love with these. Maybe it has to do with my obsession with chalkboards and bunting banners this year…but they look so darn cute framed. I hope you enjoy using them :)

Now…in addition to all the great FREEBIES we are sharing in this post, I also want to do another GIVEAWAY!!!! I get a LOT of custom requests in my shop, but perhaps the most common request is for customized daily and weekly dockets. Some people like posting them on their fridge or family bulletin board, while others use them in their planners and home management binders. Many people like to customize the colors or the headings of the different sections to meet their needs. And since I understand how valuable these one-page dockets can be…I thought this would be a PERFECT back-to-school giveaway!!

So here's the deal…

THREE lucky people will win their very own 

Winners will choose:

Page Size
Colors & Patterns
Category Headers
Your View (daily or weekly)

You will have one week to enter and we will announce all winners on Monday, August 11th! We hope that this will get all of you excited for back to school and give you the motivation you need to say goodbye to summer and hello to another fabulous school year!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, August 1, 2014

Our New Student Planners are Here!

My freshman year of college, I took a class with a professor who required students to use a planner. They gave us all a Franklin Covey planner as part of our book fees, and we were graded on how well we took notes, wrote down homework assignments and used our monthly calendars. I remember the grumbles and moans from all the students as the teacher wrote "How to Use a Planner" on the board. It seemed pretty self-explanatory, right? You have a calendar and you write important things on it. Easy peasy. Our professor, however, said that if we were going to use our planners effectively, we would have to follow three simple tips.

Tip #1: Look at your planner every single day.

It seems like such a simple rule, but it was surprising how many days I would forget to look at in and then as a result, I would forget an assignment. So I followed this tip and looked at my planner every morning while I ate breakfast.

Tip #2: Write in your planner every single day.

Even if there isn't an assignment to keep track of or any notes to jot down, the simple act of writing in your planner every day taught you to make it a part of your routine. I remember some days I would just write what I did that day or jot down a to do list.

Tip #3: Make your planner your own.

One day, our teacher walked in the room with a stack of newspapers. She had saved the comics section from about 6 months worth of Sunday papers. She told us to find a comic that made us laugh, cut it out and put it in our planner. Some kids just shoved it in a pocket, while others (like myself) glued it to a sheet of paper and put it at the front of our planner. The next day, she asked us all to bring in a picture of our family or friends and put that somewhere in our planner. By the end of the semester, our planners weren't just boring agendas anymore. They were personal to us. They were a part of our daily routine and by the end, many of us (not all...we are talking about college kids here) enjoyed looking at and using our planners every day. 16 years later, I am still using my planner the same way :)
Learning to use a planner in school made me a better student. I was more organized and on task when it came to my school work and extra curricular activities, and I truly believe that I got better grades because of that. So if you are a student, or the parent of a student, I challenge you to try using your planner every single day this school year. Look at it, write in it and above all else, PERONALIZE it!
The best way to motivate yourself (or your child) to use a planner is to make it your own! We took our boring old University Edition Franklin Covey planners and made them our own with fun pages, comics, stickers and more. I can't say the guys in our class got quite as excited as the ladies, but they still found a way to personalize their pages.

So with both types of students in mind, we have designed two different Student Planners that are fun, flexible and easy to use!

Our first Student Planner option is my personal favorite :) The Yellow & Gray Design is bright and fun and it makes me smile every time I look at it. This design comes in LARGE 8.5 x 11 and SMALL 5.5 x 8.5.
Both of our Student Planners come with two different weekly layouts to choose from. The first is a more basic, lined, horizontal weekly layout with plenty of space for writing assignments and other tasks. The second option is a more detailed weekly layout with 7 subject boxes to help you better track homework and assignments throughout the week.

Our Student Planner also comes with 2-page month-at-a-glance calendar pages and two fabulous dockets!! Dockets are an excellent way to look at your day or week at-a-glance with plenty of space for various lists, agendas and more. You can use these pages with (or in place of) your other weekly and monthly pages.

Although a traditional spiral bound planner is convenient, it doesn't offer a lot of flexibility for adding your own pages. Between handouts from school and schedules from extra curricular activities...students have a lot to keep track of. And if you have a planner system that allows you to add pages of your own, you can include great extras like the ones included in our Student Planner! It comes with a variety of Notes and ToDo lists, a Class Schedule page, Assignments and Projects checklists and a detailed Project Planner for your bigger assignments and presentations. We've also added a contacts page and a standard cover.

I realize that our Yellow & Gray planner may be a little too fancy (and too girlie) for some, so we have also created an equally fun and simplistic version of our Student Planner! This set is easy to print, uses minimal ink and is perfect for guys and girls! You can easily customize it with stickers, washi tape or other embellishments, or leave it classic and clean!

Our Simplistic Student Planner also comes in LARGE 8.5 x 11 and SMALL 5.5 x 8.5 and includes all the same great pages.

For those of you that have never printed your own planner pages before, let me assure you that although it a process and will require some "project time," the flexibility and customization it offers is worth the work!!

There are a variety of different planners out there from Filofax to Franklin Covey, but if you are looking for an inexpensive, easy way to put together your Student Planner, I highly recommend looking into the Arc and Martha Stewart Discbound systems from Staples. I talk a lot about these planners on our blog and it's because I absolutely love them!

This week, I told my 11-year-old neighbor, Patrina, that I would help her put together her student planner for the coming school year. Because our sets come with fun cover pages (or we can design a custom one for you), we decided to go with the Customizable Poly Arc Notebook so that our cute little cover could show through the front.

We also bought a set of the plastic tab dividers so that it's easier for her to find what she is looking for. I used my inexpensive DYMO label maker and came up with 5 categories that I thought worked well for the Student Planner.


Under the "calendars" tab, I included a year's worth of monthly pages. Patrina plans to use these to keep track of birthdays, special events, holidays and other school programs. She is also a cheerleader so she is going to use it to jot down her games and performances.


Under the "homework" tab we have included 3 months worth of weekly pages. Carrying a whole school year can get quite bulky, so we went with 3 months to get started. Patrina chose the weekly layout with subjects to help her keep track of her homework assignments under each class category.

To Do Lists

This section is great for using simple To Do lists and our Daily or Weekly Docket pages.


We both had a tough time coming up with the perfect tab word for this section, but we wanted a place to house her class schedule, contacts pages, project planners and other important paperwork. So we simply labeled it "important."


Every planner needs a good old "Notes" section and the student planner comes with super cute note paper that you can use anywhere in your planner.

Patrina is already home filling out all of the dates in her planner and she just told me she can't wait to start the school year! She may be the only one that excited right now :)

I know all of these pictures showcased the Yellow & Gray planner, but the Simplistic set has all of the same great pages and can be set up the exact same way in your planner! Our file now provides detailed print instructions to help you set everything up from start to finish. But of course, if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us in our Printables shop!

And stay tuned...

We will be back next week with a fun Back-to-School post that will offer some helpful tips for getting you and your kids ready for a fresh new year! And stay tuned for another FABULOUS giveaway and a bunch of new FREEBIES!!!