How to Choose the Best Notebooks for Your Homeschool

by Jimmie Lanley on February 18, 2011

NotebOoK

There are 4 main types of notebooks that you can use in your homeschool. When deciding which type to use, consider the pros and cons of each type.  And of course, trial and error is the best way to make a final decision. Often you don’t how what you need until you try it out.

1.  Spiral Notebooks

PROS

inexpensive

Especially during back to school sales, spiral notebooks are a cheap investment. You can have one for each subject.

CONS

fixed pages

You can’t move pages around or add pages.

flimsy paper

If you like to add postcards, brochures, or other thick or heavy things to your notebooks, you may find the paper in a spiral notebook too thin to support them.

2.  Composition Notebooks or Hardback Journals

PROS

no confetti

When you tear out a page, there’s no shower of little white bits of paper.

attractive looking

Composition notebooks look classy already, and the thick cardboard covers can be decorated and personalized.

thicker paper quality

The nicer paper makes it easier to affix thicker items or envelopes for holding small objects.

CONS

Just like the spiral notebooks, composition notebooks have fixed pages which don’t allow for rearranging or adding pages.

Notebook collection

3.  Three Ring Binders

PROS

availability

Three ring binders are easy to find, even at thrift stores.

flexibility

Pages can be moved, added, or taken out easily. If you buy a large enough notebook, you can add thick objects in page protectors.

durability

Quality binders will last for years and years.

CONS

bulky to store

Binders can take up a lot of shelf space and be very heavy.

can be expensive

The larger binders can be costly.

4.  Self-bound Notebooks

PROS

professional looking results

It’s so rewarding to bind your own work into a fancy looking, bound notebook.

CONS

initial investment

Binding machines, like Pro-click, cost around $50.

Based on all the pros and cons, my top choice is a three ring binder. Although they are admittedly bulky, they are durable and versatile.

What about you? What are your favorite types of notebooks? Do you use one type or mix it up? How do you decide what style of notebook to use? I’d love to hear your feedback.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

ChristyH February 18, 2011 at 7:31 AM

I like all different kinds of notebooks for different things. Spiral for math and science, 3 ring binders for art and history.

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Amanda Anderson February 18, 2011 at 8:54 AM

We have the ProClick binder and I absolutely love it. It’s easy to laminate a cover and make a finished looking book, which I find the kids are more likely to refer back to than a three-ring binder. It’s also nice for ebooks that I print out. The bindings cost around 20c each (I found a good deal!), making the ongoing cost really low :)
You can also cut the bindings down and make smaller notebooks, like mini-journals and such.

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jimmie February 18, 2011 at 5:09 PM

Thanks for sharing how you use ProClick. It’s good to hear that the investment is worth it.

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Deb February 18, 2011 at 2:10 PM

I just started, but for all the reasons you mentioned, we use three-ring binders. I know that my kids will want to add to thier notebooks, rearrange the pages, etc. It seems like the sturdiest, most flexible option. Just yesterday my son came up with three different ideas about how to organize our State Study notebook.

I do however, have a ProClick – and I LOVE it. I use it for making all sorts of things. When my kids get a little older we might use it for notebooking, too; but right now sturdiness is pretty important and I think don’t think the ProClick notebooks could withstand the affections of a 4 and 6 year old.

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jimmie February 18, 2011 at 5:10 PM

Variety is the spice of life, isn’t it? :-) I agree. I use mostly 3 ring, but I’ve been known to use a little of everything.

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Nikki February 19, 2011 at 11:16 AM

I mostly use three ring binders, but for smaller projects, I use file folders with the three prongs. I have even added page protectors to slide in smaller objects that could not be hole punched (like homemade books or postcards). You can get this type of folder really cheap during the back to school sales.

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Melissa Telling February 19, 2011 at 8:57 PM

We use a lot of 3 ring notebooks and 3 prong folders. We also use spiral notebooks, sketch pads, and composition books. My children also each have a fancier zip up 3 ring binder/folder that they store copywork , etc. in. Sometimes they even make notebooks by stapling paper together. I haven’t tried the pro click yet though. I’m afraid we’d get too carried away with it, and notebooks would take over our home. :-)

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Kendra February 23, 2011 at 3:26 AM

We use 3-ring binders and the ProClick Binder for our notebooks. :) I need to invest in bigger spines (holds more), but the kids love using them to make their own books. :)

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Stephanie Pawley July 30, 2012 at 10:15 AM

I am still pretty new to homeschooling, so have not used notebooking much. we just started a solar system notebook in a bound scrapbook. We also have a science journal which turned into a journal to practice writing about what she did or saw on walks or experiments. In the future, I think I would probably use 3 ring binders since we have so many at home and there are several thrift stores near us that tend to have lots of them CHEAP! By the way, I really love your blog!

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Beth February 26, 2013 at 11:17 PM

I am using notebooks in our co op’s science class. I am LOVING it, I hope the students are too. We use spiral notebooks. The only CON is that the papers rip out fairly easy. We can’t add pages but we can paste items onto a page, so that solves that problem.
There are 17 students. I make sure they have colored pencils and markers available to add color and interest to their pages as they like.
We also use foldables. This adds another dimension to our notebooks. Mostly, the foldables are for their vocabulary words. This helps to break up the monotony of writing definitions. I utilize diagrams and labels they can color, and have them draw pictures of the experiments along with labeling and explanations.
LOVE notebooking!

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