Some would classify homeschoolers as either consumers or producers. There are those who will measure their yearly progress by counting the number of workbooks they have consumed. Then there are those who will be trying to find another shelf to store the notebooks full of information their children have produced!
From a scrapbook to save those precious homeschooling moments to a personalized “textbook,” there are many ways to incorporate this unique method of making lasting impressions into your homeschool days.
The easiest way to start any notebook is one page at a time. Start at the beginning with the Creation. After you read a section of the Bible have your children record what they have learned in their own words. They may also wish to illustrate the story. This process helps them remember what they have read, develops their writing, and produces a record of their studies. The stories and the illustrations in your child’s notebooks will amaze you, and the completed notebooks will be a joy to return to again and again.
Copying the masters helps develop good writing. Copywork can also be a replacement for the typical handwriting books once your children are correctly forming their letters. Favorites for copying are Scripture, poems, speeches, or any other passage of a book that has a special meaning to your child. These copywork entries can also be illustrated.
There are many ways to record what your children read throughout the year. The simplest way to do this is to record the title of the book and author along with the date the book was read. Older children can research and write an author page, adding books to the page as they are encountered. Periodic narrations of favorite stories can also go in the reading notebook. Your children will feel a sense of accomplishment when they look back and realize how many books they have read over the year!
Grammar and Spelling Rules
One of the best methods for learning grammar and spelling is being taught what is needed as it is needed. Here is one way this can work for your family. Have your children write something every day. The quantity and quality of the writing will naturally increase with age. As you check your child’s written work focus on one or two grammar and/or spelling errors at a time (they may find too many “red marks” discouraging). Find an appropriate reference in a grammar handbook that addresses the problem. Have your child make a note of the grammar or spelling rule in the appropriate notebook. Writing things down has a way of committing them to memory. The notebook will also serve as a handy reference. You can have your children refer to their own notebooks to see how to correct future errors — although you may find that by recording the rule themselves, and by addressing the problems as they are encountered in their own writing, they don’t make the same mistake twice!
Many homeschooling moms — even those “A” students — came away from public school completely history illiterate. Those meaningless dates, facts, and figures just didn’t stick.
Remember that history tells a story. Carefully choose an engaging, historically accurate book as your spine, and sprinkle liberally with primary source documents, historical fiction, and biographies. Have your children narrate a page on each figure or special event you encounter. You can also include map work and history projects in your notebook. Who knew history could be this much fun!
The concept of a nature notebook will probably be very familiar to those using a Charlotte Mason approach in their homeschools. But nature notebooks can be used with any method. Your children can journal, collect, identify, describe, and document their outdoor adventures.
Do you have a creative child who is always making something? Have him keep a record of his creations in a notebook. Thanks to digital cameras, taking pictures is a cinch! Once the photo is pasted in place, he can use the extra space to write a comment, explanation, or draw a diagram. Older children can use the computer to produce well-crafted pages.
Or perhaps your child has an ongoing project. A notebook can be used to record his progress. Whether your child’s interest is insects, exploration, sewing, dog training, fly fishing, watercolor, electronics, or basket-weaving — it can go in a notebook!
Older children tend to be able to spend large quantities of time researching one particular topic. This may flow over into several notebooks. Provide them with numerous binders, dividers, paper, and a library card. They may one day be able to use this material to write a book.
So many treasured moments; so little time! Capture each one and create a keepsake to commemorate your homeschool years. Think of the fun you’ll have looking back on this precious time spent with your family!
10 Ways to Use Notebooking
Practical suggestions, resources, and tips for getting started at our DIYHomeschooler site.
How-tos, eBooks, resources, tools, and areas of interest that lend themselves to notebooking at our DIYHomeschooler site.
Helps from others:
- Explore, Discover, & Create . . . with Notebooking!
“The richness of what they are learning will be apparent as their notebooks become filled to the brim with stories, pictures, maps, quotes, and photographs of the people, places, and events encountered. The depth of what they are learning will be told as new layers are added each year to certain notebooks, such as their language arts and math notebooks. The process of learning they have experienced will be unveiled as you note the ways they organize and choose the material they include for their notebooks. You will begin to see certain notebooks take on your children’s personalities as they learn to express themselves in the variety of ways they have been gifted.” Very rounded explanation of notebooking at NotebookingPages.com.
- More on Notebooks
“Notebooks become wonderful educational keepsakes the children are so proud of. Not only are they impressive, but they serve as a living record of accomplishments. We find we do more ‘school’ and accomplish more valuable academics because of notebooks.” Jennifer Steward explains how notebooks can be used in conjunction with unit studies.
“If you are just as curious as to what ‘notebooking’ is as I was, it may help you to think of research books where you gather information to help you learn more about a specific topic or a portfolio of individual topics. It can be as fancy as you would like for it to be or as plain and matter-of-fact as your heart desires. Each child will be different and if you wish for this to succeed in your school, you must give the children some authority to make the book their own.” Creative ideas for implementing notebooking, and free forms to get you started!
- Student Notebooking — Learning at its Best
“We have a wonderful opportunity to help students establish the art of keeping notebooks while doing everyday schoolwork. It is such a great boost to their joy of learning when they can see their own progress from year to year when they record what they are learning in their own personal student notebook. There is a sense of true learning going on, and I’m convinced a higher level of thinking skill is utilized.” Ideas from Cindy Wiggers.