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Using Notebooking In The Homeschool

Pure, fresh, clean paper, the crisp strokes of the creator’s pencil--mixed with a splash of inspiration, make notebooking a unique educational keepsake. Notebooking can be as simple as you like, or as grand as you can imagine. No other learning tool has such potential for individuality and versatility. Each page represents the limitless boundaries of a living education unrestricted by a textbook or workbook.


What is Notebooking ?

Notebooking has been used for centuries. It may be in the form of a worn out recipe book, a nature journal, a scrapbook, an artist’s sketch book, a family history or a scientist’s reports. All these are types of notebooks. Put simply it is an educational scrapbook or journal.

Notebooking is a great way to create a record of learning in a creative and meaningful way.

Learning is not limited to the textbook or worksheet but to what has captured the child’s interest or what the child knows. As they create their notebooking pages they learn. As they record their information they discover and make a reference for the future.

Notebooking is a skill and an art. It gives children a sense of accomplishment, with a stamp of originality. Notebooking offers a vehicle for collecting a range of ideas and subjects  and melding them into a treasured testimony of their learning journey.

Worksheets and Notebooking - What's the Difference?

Worksheets follow a question and answer format. They usually require a set framework and they often leave little room for creativity. Notebooking on the other hand allows children to record the things that interest them. Notebooking pages fall in the middle of these two. Whilst they do give a starting point, and in some cases make suggestions for content, the children still get to decide what is important and what will go on the page or if they need to use the page at all.

Types of Notebooks

Notebooking can be used for many different subjects and approaches. Charlotte Mason used many notebooks in her schools. Here are a few ideas to help you start notebooking.

Lined Notebooks

These are great for copywork, a book of commonplace (quotes that strike you or you want to remember) or narration notebooks. This one below was used for poetry copywork lessons. She only recorded the ones she liked.

Poetry notebook Lined Notebooks

Finding beautiful notebooks for their work encourages them to take care with their presentation. Try to find stitch bond books as it is very annoying if the paper begins to fall out when you are only half way through the book. These books I am planning on using for their history book narrations. We will chose a spine or main book and they write narrations in their book after they have finished reading. This is much more thoughtful and creative than using worksheets.

Ring Binder Folders and Clip Folders

Notebook pages are placed in the folder.

Using three ringed folders are so much better for keeping your pages nice and neat, trust me! I also like the clear white folders where I can add a cover for the folder. I buy scrapbooking pages, cut them to size and slip them into the clear sleeved cover (see my book of centuries below). You can also place your pages into a clear sleeved protectors. The advantage of this method is your page is protected and you can shuffle, add, subtract and/or move pages about. We use this for our history notebooks and book of centuries.

You can use these types of notebooks when you want to add and subtract from the notebooks. I also use them for my homeschool planner. Here are some instructions on making your own homeschool planner notebook.

Make Your Own Homeschool Planner

A Book of Centuries (pictured below from 7 & 8 year olds) is like a giant timeline notebook that records the whole of history.

In this a student records brief facts, narrations, maps and sketches about the events of history as they occurred.

Book of CenturiesPrime Minister's Notebook

The Prime Minister's Notebook is another example when a folder works well. When you finish the notebooking pages you can bind them together and store in a portfolio of work done over the year.

We also use notebooking pages for Our Bush Calendar Logbook for nature journal case study.

A Bush CalendarBush Calendar Logbook

Blank scrapbook

Notebook entries are made directly on to the pages of the scrapbook. This works best when it doesn’t matter if the entries are random, or you know you won’t want to add things later on. We use blank art books for Nature Journaling and our Bible notebooks. They would also be good for or recording experiments. This method is good because it is compact and easily transportable.

The Book of Samuel Notebooking Pages (5 & 7 year old)

Music Notebooking Pages (from 7 & 9 year old)

Music Notebooking pageMusic Notebooking page

Picture Study (from 10 year old)

Picture Study

Science Notebooking Pages (Ages 11 & 13) using a botany book

Science NotebookScience Notebook

Nature Journal Notebooking

Pages (9 and 10 year old)

Nature Journal Notebook

Nature journaling is a another form of notebooking. Put simply, it is keeping a journal about nature. It has no rules, so you will always get it right. It is a creative, expressive observation of nature.

Notebooking Pages Bring Structure To Your Lesson Planning

Sometimes it's good to get a starting place for your notebook. Children often find it less intimidating than a blank piece of paper. Giving them the topic can act as a springboard for their narrations and for me they add structure to my curriculum planning and required narrations from my children. Children can still be creative. We also found it very helpful to space out their narrations. For example we would require a narration on a particular chapter and give them narration pages that correspond.

The Wonderland Of Nature Journal is an Australian Nature Journaling resource to use with The Wonderland of Nature.

The Wonderland Of Nature JournalThe Wonderland Of Nature Journal

We used these pages for when we were studying the continents and when we did Discover Downunder

Geography Notebooking PagesGeography Notebook

History Notebooks are perfect for narrations. Pre formatted notebooking pages can also help give you some structure for the types of topics that you may want to cover.

Australian History NotebookAustralian history notebookAustralian History Notebook


Notebooking Success - Maximizing The Impact of Homeschool Lessons With Notebooks

Notebooking Sucess

"A student-created notebooking page will not look like a worksheet printed from a Scholastic or Evan Moor book. It will be unique, possibly with errors or crooked writing and stick figure drawings. That is okay. As a document of his learning, these imperfect pages are exactly what you want – a true snapshot of that child’s learning and skills." Jimmie Lanley - Notebooking Success.

It's great to have all the resources in the world but sometime we wonder how do I actually turn this into a lesson. Notebooking is a key. Jimmie explains how to use notebooking when using a Charlotte Mason, Classical or Eclectic method of homeschooling.

Even though I've been notebooking for many years this short ebook gave me more ideas on how to use this educational powerhouse in my homeschool. You will really benefit from reading this ebook. I recommend it. It is an affiliate link but I only put it here because I thought the ebook was so good. Click here to view more details