Tuesday, May 22, 2012

MLBs Done!

We finished our MLBs (Main Lesson Books) today.  I LOVE how they turned out and the more important thing is that Yoav does too.  At the beginning of the year, I told him that we would be making books and when he asked how, I said we'd hole-punch the edges and bind with yarn.  That was not at all good enough for his work.  He wanted them to look like "real" books.

Yoav's First Grade MLBs

Fortunately, I have a good friend Y who recently did her MLBs using Japanese Stab Binding, which I had never heard of, but which is *perfect* for this sort of small book!

The actual pages of our books are done on Strathmore 12"x18" 80lb drawing paper.  Each book has as it's last page one of the back pages of a drawing pad, which is really thick heavy cardboard.  I cut it using a cutting knife like this one.  The cover page is heavy drawing paper, similar to cardstock, that we found at a local store.  My preference would have been to use acid-free paper, but we tried using our watercolor paper (140lb, painted with watercolors), but it was too thick and the 80lb paper seemed too thin.  Maybe eventually we'll swap out for something acid-free, like the Strathmore bristol board.  I'll use that next year.

For the binding, I used this tutorial.  Unfortunately, you can only barely see our binding, since I used white craft thread.  It looks like the far right book in the tutorial, except that ours has only four holes. They each have four holes 3/4" from the left side of the paper. The top and bottom holes are 3/4" away from top/bottom and the other two are spaced evenly, 3.5" from the other two holes.

You can just barely see the binding here:
MLB Binding

The directions in the tutorial are great.  My few suggestions/changes are:
* I held the pages in place with three binder clips along the left edge.
* I used a seam ripper to get the holes started and then hammered a nail through to get it all the way through (and wide enough).  You need enough room for the thread to go in and out a few times.
* Leave more room than they suggest at the end for the knot.  No reason to cut early (I learned the hard way!)  What worked best was to tie a tight knot, thread the needle, start pushing the needle in and then cut the thread close to the needle so the thread ended up hidden inside the book (hope that makes sense!)

Hope that helps!  We both love how the books came out.  They feel very strong.  Yoav spent quite a lot of time this afternoon looking through them (and playing "Find the Hidden Letter" in the L.Arts one and "playing" the equations in the Math one).  I'll definitely continue with this method.  It seems much better than using the pre-made MLB books because you don't have to worry about not having enough pages when your child wants to re-draw something!