Notebooking Pages Versus Worksheets

by Jimmie Lanley on April 26, 2012

I am starting to notice a trend in homeschool curriculum — many publishers are offering lapbooks or notebook journals, specially designed for their curriculum.

Lapbooking and notebooking are popular learning methods among homeschoolers now, so it is not surprising that curriculum providers want to extend their marketability by offering lapbooks and notebooking pages.

I love it notebooking is getting attention as a valuable learning method. (It is.)

The problem is that some of what is called notebooking is really nothing more than a workbook.

What used to be called worksheets are now being billed as “notebooking pages.” ┬áBut the layout is the same as old fashioned workbooks– ┬ácomprehension questions and fill in the blank sentences with a few graphics as decoration.

The Problem with Workbooks

I will admit that I’m not a huge fan of workbooks. Although I have used an occasional workbook through the years, I tend to avoid them in favor of a combination of living books and authentic narration. In general, workbooks do not stimulate critical or creative thinking. Instead, they tend to spoon feed the learner with carefully constructed questions that do most of the thinking for the child.

The greatest benefit of notebooking is that a child uses his own words, images, ideas, and layouts to create a retelling of what his homeschool lesson included. The learning becomes his own as he chooses how to portray that.

How to Distinguish a Workbook from a Notebooking Journal

A workbook is regimented and has right and wrong answers. A notebook is fluid and full of alternative options for expressing the same academic concepts — just look at the 50 Things to Put in a Notebook for a sample of the variety that is possible.

A workbook has lots of text already on the page. The student merely completes what was started. A notebook journal is mostly blank so that the student creates the content.

So when you are evaluating curriculum don’t be misled by the label “notebooking journal.” Look critically at the journal and determine if it is truly a notebooking journal or if it is a cleverly disguised workbook.


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