Organize Writing with a Writer’s Notebook

by Jimmie Lanley on January 6, 2014

Organize Writing with a Writer's Notebook | This Reading Mama on The Notebooking Fairy

This post is by my blogging buddy Becky Spence. See her bio below and be sure to subscribe to her blog, This Reading Mama. She has fantastic teaching ideas!

Writing is one of my favorite subjects to teach. While I sometimes use writing prompts and occasionally use copywork, my all-time favorite way to teach writing is as a craft.

Writing as a craft is taught by modeling the tools and strategies that proficient writers use through read alouds and explicit, simple lessons. After the young writer interacts with the lesson, he is then set free to explore his own writing through the process of brainstorming, writing a rough draft, revising, editing, and publishing his work. (You can read more about the teaching of writing as a craft here.)

Using a Writer’s Notebook to Teach Writing

I simply adore everything about teaching writing as a craft except that it can feel totally out of control and messy at times. The reason it feels messy is that writing as a craft gives the control over to the young writer. He picks his own topic, words, and message, while the teacher simply facilitates his craft.

Keeping a Writer’s Notebook for my son has really helped alleviate some of the mess and kept things organized for him and for me. My son’s Writer’s Notebook is an organized three-ring binder that contains aids, graphic organizers, and writing tools to help him in his process of writing. His Writer’s Notebook started as a spiral bound notebook. But this year (2nd grade), he moved to a 3-ring binder. I really like the binder notebook better because it has pocket space for loose papers and I can use those handy plastic sleeve protectors to slide pages in for re-use.

The four sections inside a writer's notebook

Organizing a Writer’s Notebook

My son’s Writer’s Notebook is divided into four sections:

  1. Graphic Organizers– Here is where I keep the graphic organizers he uses to brainstorm or format his writing. For example, I have the fairy tales graphic organizer and the monthly writing prompts I created. I keep a little bit of blank notebook paper in this section just in case he’d rather jot down a list instead of using a pre-made graphic organizer to brainstorm his ideas.
  2. Rough Drafts– The next section is for his rough drafts. In this section, I keep plenty of notebook paper. When he drafts, I usually leave the room and just let him write. I want him to get his ideas down without criticism or judgment. I am, however, very particular that he writes on every other line when he drafts. This helps in the revising and editing process which comes next.
  3. Revising and Editing– In his section, I have several tools, like his WOW! Words vocabulary list and All that Jazz adjective organizer. These tools help him as we revise his writing together. After revisions have been done, I ask him to begin the editing process himself by going over the CUPS editing checklist which is also kept in this section.I have found that when he has to do the first run-through of editing, he takes a little more pride in his spelling, capitalization, and punctuation in his rough drafts. After he has edited, I go behind him and edit a little more. Sometimes I use his writing mistakes as ideas for teaching lessons at a later time. Sometimes I don’t. It all depends on whether or not I feel he is developmentally ready for it.
  4. Extra Helps– My last section is a kind of hodgepodge of extra helps for him. For example, to help with spelling, he has a quick reference sheet of the most common single syllable vowel patterns he has studied. I also keep his file folder of studied sight words there.

We keep his Writer’s Notebook in a predictable place, along with other notebooks in our schoolroom. When it is writing time, he knows exactly where to find it. Many days, I start writing time with a simple lesson where I model a strategy or read aloud to him. On other days, he just pulls it out and picks up where he left off the day before in his writing, revising, or editing.

But no matter how writing looks from day-to-day (or year-to-year), one of the beauties of a Writer’s Notebook is its flexibility. I can remove or add papers as I see fit. I can even change the topics in each the sections to meet our needs. Your child’s Writer’s Notebook may look very different from my son’s, but one thing remains- they are a very effective way of organizing and meeting the needs of your young writer as you teach into his writing.

More Writing Resources:

beckyspenceBecky Spence is a homeschooling mama to four little blessings who keep her on her feet {and knees}. She is passionate about teaching, specifically literacy. She is the author of This Reading Mama, where she shares reading and writing activities as well as free literacy curricula and printables. You can connect with her on , Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook.


Make a Winter and Christmas Notebook

by Jimmie Lanley on December 7, 2013


I was inspired by Amy Blevins when she shared that she likes to make a Christmas notebook for her children to work on during the holidays. That’s a great idea! So I gathered some relevant resources to help you print out some Christmas and winter packets.

Christmas Copywork Printables

Christmas copywork pages free to Facebook likers of Homeschool Encouragement Facebook page

Founders Academy free Christmas quotes from presidents copywork pages

The Christmas Story free copywork pages: free pages with single lines (not manuscript lines) and colorful clipart

Christmas Copywork and Other Activities (download goes to a Google doc)


Christmas Pages

Christmas Around the World Journal Pages: Great for a quick research project.

December calendar

Printable Christmas Stationery from Beth at 123 Homeschool 4 Me. This is in a very cute style with Santa and elves.

Homeschooling Through the Nativity, a huge pack of printables of all kinds — coloring pages, word scrambles, word searches, etc.

Christmas Tree Shape Writing Paper (Use the small link below the thumbnail; don’t be distracted by the ad to the right.)

Old Testament Prophecies Fulfilled at Christmas: free notebooking page and map from Bright Ideas Press

Christmas Fun Notebooks: These free printables are great for the younger crowd and include tracing activities, and games.

Printable Christmas Word Puzzles

Holiday Notebooking Pages from Free Homeschool Helps (scroll to the bottom for Christmas pages)

Christmas Symbols Lapbook Printables from Free Homeschool Helps

New Years Resolutions Notebooking Pages

Christmas Songs Word Puzzle  and Another Christmas Songs Word Puzzle

Gingerbread shaped writing paper and organizer (You do have to log in to access this, but it is free.)

Christmas Themed Writing Paper

Christmas Writing Prompts (file is a Google doc)


Winter Themed Printables

Winter Notebook Printables from Tina’s Dynamic Homeschool

Pinecone Notebooking Page from Paige at Elemental Science

Cycles of Nature Notebooking pages from me at Jimmie’s Collage

Winter Printables from Nature Detectives

Winter I Spy Cards from Maureen Spell

Lovely Winter Walk and Conifer Observation Sheet from Cindy West


December Notebooking Round-up

by Jimmie Lanley on December 6, 2013


The notebooking round-up this month is full of free printables! Wow, you homeschool moms have been tearing up your computers with creativity. Thank you!

How Tos and Examples

Taking the Land of Canaan

This is a super Bible history lesson that uses simple visuals on mapping pages to tell the story and to make a point. This is exactly how I taught my daughter when she was younger. The pictures of mapping pages are just great.

Thankful Book

Okay, Thanksgiving is over, but the hand idea might work for other topics besides a thankful book. This is a great example of notebooking for young learners.

10 Reasons Notebooking Helps Home Educated Students: Notebooking Construction

I love this post with lots of real life examples of notebooking pages on plain notebooking paper!

DIY Notebooking Pages

If you’ve ever wanted to know how to create your own notebooking pages, this tutorial will help! Adelien uses Microsoft Word for MAC to make her pages, but even if you don’t use that particular program, her steps should set you on the right path.

How to Make a Life Experience Notebook

Aadel writes this post from the perspective of an unschooler. She still loves notebooking for documenting learning and recording life experiences, similar to scrapbooking. She even made a Minecraft notebook!

Free Printables

Veterans Notebooking Page

Kathy made this for Veterans Day, but it can be used to honor a veteran any day of the year.

Reverse Engineering Printable

Let your kids take things apart and document the process on this freebie. Fun science lesson!

Free Printable ~ Ancient Lands Map Set

Full color maps, free to print and use in your history notebooks.

Christmas Around the World Notebooking Page

This printable is great for researching Christmas customs of different countries.

President Notebooking Page

A simple printable for taking notes about a president.

FamilyReporter Project and Checklist

This post is more than just printables. It’s an entire project idea, and I adore it! What a fantastic idea for keeping family engaged during family parties. With the printable reporter’s notepad, your children can interview aunts, uncles, and grandparents to learn more about your family history.

Homeschool Science Corner ~ Inside the Cone

A mini-lesson about pinecones plus a free printable science journal page you can use alongside the lesson.


Notebooking Themed Fun

November 19, 2013

I’m not the only person crazy about notebooking paper. I found the most incredible Pinterest board devoted to notebook paper, pencils, and rulers. It brought back a lot of nostalgia for the days when I was a classroom teacher. But even as a homeschool mom and a general crafty person, I have a soft spot for […]

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Notebooking Round-Up for November

November 1, 2013

The notebooking round-up this month is full of free printables! Wow, you homeschool moms have been tearing up your computers with creativity. Thank you! Readers, get ready to pin these amazing freebies. Most of these should already be on my Notebooking for Homeschool Pinterest board, so don’t forget to follow that. And please join the […]

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Notebooking Round-up for October

October 4, 2013

You have landed on the monthly Notebooking Round-up here at The Notebooking Fairy. Welcome! All month long I collect the best notebooking links and save them a post I call a round-up. You can see all of the round-ups here. All of the links here can also be found somewhere on my two Pinterest boards devoted […]

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What You Must Have for Notebooking

September 26, 2013

As parents, we try to teach our kids the difference between needs and wants. Even we homeschool moms have to distinguish between the two or we will end up either overbuying or feeling that our homeschool is lacking. Just because something is convenient or cool doesn’t mean it is a necessity. What You Need for […]

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Notebooking Round-up for September

September 7, 2013

You have landed on the monthly Notebooking Round-up here at The Notebooking Fairy. Welcome! All month long I collect the best notebooking links and save them a post I call a round-up. You can see all of the round-ups here. All of the links here can also be found somewhere on my two Pinterest boards devoted […]

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Notebooking Round-up for Back to Homeschool

August 2, 2013

You have landed on the monthly Notebooking Round-up here at The Notebooking Fairy. Welcome! All month long I collect the best notebooking links and save them for the first Friday of the new month in a post I call a round-up. You can see all of the round-ups here. I skipped last July for summer […]

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Notebooking Success Plus Six More Books at a Crazy Discount

July 30, 2013

All three of my ebooks are included in this this week’s bundle at Bundle of the Week. This drastically discounted bundle is packed full of digital resources for homeschoolers, including seven ebooks (PDF) listed below. With your $7.40 purchase, you’ll get tips for developing curriculum and teaching specific subjects, printables for you and your students, and […]

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