About a month ago, we purchased brand new Notebooking journals for the purpose of truly infusing more Notebooking into our homeschool. We have been doing Lapbooks and Notebooking pages since I started homeschooling, about 6 years ago… but never in this way.
The way we are using Notebooking now could almost be considered a ‘method’ of homeschool.
Our Notebooks are a HUGE tool in our day-to-day habits. Since we’ve started using Notebooking more intentionally (about 4 months ago), I’ve been amazed at the difference in our homeschool.
More peace, more joy, more creativity, more real learning. And this is coming from a Mom who already did quite a bit of notebooking-type-stuff!
Where we got our Notebooks – since so many of you have been asking about where to get good Notebooks, I thought I’d comment. You can use ANY kind of Notebook. Many Moms choose to purchase Dollar Store Notebooks and use those. Whatever fits your need or budget is just fine.
For us, I decided to make a bit of a bigger investment. Because I could not find what I wanted in a pre-made Notebook, I had ours made. I wanted thicker paper (but not sketchbook thick) and I didn’t want perforated sides! Almost ALL Notebooks come with those tear away sides and I didn’t want our pages to easily rip out. I also wanted a personalized front and sturdy spiral binding. I was also keen on plastic ‘covers’ to give a bit of protection for the zillion times I know the kids will place their notebooks down in a spill…
It was pretty simple to make our own. I had blank white paper (22lb.) with a clear plastic cover and black vinyl back bound with plastic spiral binding. Between the paper and the binding, each notebook was about $10. We just did this at Staples.
The children use one Notebook for all their Notebooking except Nature Notebooking. They have separate Nature Notebooks which they use weekly and have been adding to for over a year now.
Make sure you ask the person doing the binding to give you a big enough spiral bind. Ours came back a bit too tight and I had to tear out about 30 pages in each book just to make them workable. Each book has about 200 pages in it though so they will last a long time. They become a source of real pride as the children strive to keep them tidy and well kept.
Hope this helps!
When my eldest son told me specifically that he wanted to use reading, narration, and Notebooking for ‘homeschool’ this year, I had to smile. This statement came after only a week of reading, narrating and Notebooking through some Canadian History living books he loved (the I AM CANADA series, it is fantastic).
He was asking for a Charlotte Mason education point blank. What he didn’t realize is he’s been doing it for years – its just been a bit more hidden. I haven’t been as intentional as I should have been with Narration and our “Notebooks” have been in the form of many (MANY) Lapbooks.
I’ve realized Notebooking is fairly uncommon (these days) and a bit misunderstood, so I’ve been contemplating this idea of Notebooking and how it can truly enhance a child’s learning experience.
I’ll share my thoughts…
Living Books, Narration, and Notebooking –
A Winning Combination?
Living Books are the central focus of our homeschool. We do not use any textbooks at all in our home. Here is a description of a living book from SimplyCharlotteMason.com:
Living books are usually written by one person who has a passion for the subject and writes in conversational or narrative style. The books pull you into the subject and involve your emotions, so it’s easy to remember the events and facts. Living books make the subject “come alive.” They can be contrasted to dry writing, like what is found in most encyclopedias or textbooks, which basically lists informational facts in summary form. You might be surprised to find that living books are available for most school subjects — even math, geography, and science!
We use living books for every subject and in every aspect of our homeschool. I believe this is the starting point for inspiring a love of learning, good narrations, and successful Notebooking.
Narration is used by Charlotte Mason home educators to help children practice expressing what they have learned. In narration, children tell back what they have heard and learned after reading a certain passage or studying a certain topic. This could be a fictional read-aloud or a non-fiction selection they have read on their own.
It could also be an oral narration of ‘everything I’ve learned about (insert topic or person)’ type of activity. The idea is that children learn to listen, understand, dissect, relate to, and then retell what they have learned and what it means to them.
As they grow, this will evolve into written narration as well.
Notebooking is a form of written and creative narration. This can be done at various levels for various ages.
Notebooking pages can include anything that helps express the child’s understanding and passion for his or her topic of study. We’ve included things like: sketches, printed pictures, maps, diagrams, written narrations, copywork, point-form notes, vocabulary, art projects, even pretend newspaper ‘articles’ and interesting little magazine clippings, etc. Really, the options are quite endless for what a child can include in a Notebooking page. It will also vary depending on the personality of the child.
Our son will tend to do less colouring and/or drawing, whereas our daughter loves to draw and colour all over her Notebooking pages! Having said this, our son will often give much more vocabulary rich narrations, where our daughter chooses to use art to express detail. This is perfectly fine and encouraged because it shows the gifts God has given each individual child!
The purpose of Notebooking is to allow the individual child to create pages and projects that suit their gifts, talents, abilities, and interests.
What’s so great about Notebooking?
As I mentioned above, we’ve actually been using various forms of Notebooking in our homeschool for several years. I did a ton of Notebooking instinctively before I even knew about this old-as-the-hills method of self-education. (Great thinkers have used Notebooking as a way of recording, expressing, and analyzing their learning for longer than we can track!)
We used Lapbooks like crazy when the children were young and have always created our own little ‘books’ about what we were learning. I have a daughter who loves traditional Lapbooking, with all the lift-the-flaps and cut outs and mini-books. I have a son who loathes anything that requires scissors and glue. So, Lapbooking never clicked for him, but Notebooking, on the other hand, he loves.
Notebooking encourages children to think about and engage with their own education.
I love that Notebooking gives children the ability to be creative, and express what they do know about a subject or piece of literature.
Rather than finding out what our children do not know (which is often the goal of traditional fill in the blanks, test, quizes, etc.) – we give them the chance to express what they do know.
No more pages of busy work and fill-in-the-blanks that amount to heaps of throw-away stuff at the end of the year. Nope. With Notebooking, children are creating keepsakes. Their ‘homeschool’ work becomes cherished and memorable. And in this process of creating something really worthwhile, I believe they are learning far more than they would with alternative methods.
How we’ve used Notebooking Recently:
Our eldest son read through the entire
series this Summer. (By the way, I highly recommend this series as a wonderful ‘living’ history of Canada for boys!) Because of his natural interest in this Canadian history, I decided to run with it and have him do a bunch of oral narrations, written narrations, and notebooking pages about the books and topics covered in them (things like WWI and WWII, The Titanic, The War of 1812, etc.)
Our ten-yaer-old truly enjoyed Notebooking through these books, here’s a peak:
Our daughter has been Notebooking her History, Geography, Nature Study, Natural Science, Poetry, Copywork… you name it. Here’s a look at just a few of her Notebooking pages:
Our youngest son has been using Notebooking for Five in a Row, Copywork, Paddle to the Sea, and recording what he’s learning from various books we are reading together.
I want to add, for clarity: The Notebooking pages you see above were created with help from me. Our children are still learning how to create their own layouts, designs, and implement ideas for Notebooking. The art, printing, and narrations are their own, but some of the layout I definitely helped them with! They will help choose photos, print-outs, fonts, and tell me where to put a picture,etc. But, as I mentioned in the post, it will take some time for children to develop the skill of laying out a page of Notebooking. The more we do this together, the more they will learn about what makes a Notebook interesting, effective, and eye-catching!
I will be sharing more about Notebooking in upcoming posts as well as a full update of our plans for homeschooling this year very, very soon!
I highly recommend checking out Productive Homeschooling. I have been loving my membership there and have already used SO MANY notebooking pages with our children. Notebooking is freeing, but having to create your own pages can be a bit overwhelming… also, pre-done Notebooking pages make things easier for children to jump right in.
Also, I love how open and honest the creator, Debra, is about her own homeschooling journey (10 children!) and how notebooking revolutionized their homeschool.
Also, if you are looking for free Notebooking resources and downloads, check out my Notebooking board on Pinterest: