(photo credit by Carmela Nava)
Today we have Lainie in the spotlight.
Lainie, when did you start notebooking?
I started notebooking almost five years ago when our children were 6 (1st grade), 8 (2nd grade), and 10 (5th grade). It was our first year of homeschooling full time.
How did you first implement notebooking? How do you use it now?
We first started notebooking in science with My Father’s World Exploring Countries and Cultures curriculum. After reading books like Living World Encyclopedia, my older two would pick 2-4 things that interested them . They would draw and/or paint pictures and write in their own words what they learned.
What is your favorite thing about notebooking?
I love that notebooking is so versatile. During that first year it became very clear that our eldest child loves notebooking, and I didn’t want her to feel confined to the 8 ½ x 11 “box.” We got her larger paper, quality colored pencils, and watercolors and let her have at it. She would save her notebooking for the end of the day and joyfully spent hours doing that work.
That same simple format was not a joy for our middle child. She did it obediently, but it did not capture her heart at all. After asking her some questions and talking it out, we purchased a small journal that became her “travel journal” for a fictitious character named Maria. She drew simple pictures and then wrote her science in the form of journal entries.
Here is an example:
Today Sarah and I went to the rain forest to see JUNGLE KILLERS! We packed flashlights, food in special bags so predators can’t smell it and we wore camouflage clothes. As we were walking into the jungle we saw a harpy eagle flying over. I asked Sarah if harpy eagles were the kind of animal we are looking for. Sarah said, “Yes, harpy eagles are big predators,” Sarah continued, “Harpy eagles eat monkeys.”
What subjects do you use notebooking for? How often do you use notebooking?
We use notebooking mainly for history and science. We use it almost every school day, but in varying degrees.
What makes your notebooks unique?
My children, of course! We keep things very simple as far as format goes. We still use the My Father’s World curriculum which provide us with notebooking pages. But each page looks different from child to child and from subject to subject. Sometimes they write them “straight” as in a written narration of the information. But they also like to make them look like newspapers or comic strips. Other times they find things to attach to the pages.
What are your best notebooking tips?
I have three tips!
- Keep it simple. I don’t expect each notebooking sheet to be a masterpiece. There are times when it is a true joy for that child to learn while notebooking in an elaborate way. Sometimes it just about processing the information, and they need to get it out in a straightforward fashion. Other times they need to do something completely different—hands-on or orally.
- Bind the notebooks. For storage, I pull out our sheets for the year and take them to Kinkos to be coil bound. They store in a much smaller space than if I kept them in a binder. Also the children can look through their work and share it with friends and family without losing anything. It’s amazing how proud they are of their completed notebooks!
- Notebooking is due the same day we covered the material. I didn’t even realize this was a rule until I typed it. But once behind, it would be stressful for them. So if a child is ill, having a hard day, or just needs a little extra grace , I just have her do an oral narration instead of a notebooking page. Keep your long-term goals in sight, and don’t get hung up on a single assignment. My goal is for my children to love to learn and to grow in wisdom as I nurture my relationships with them not to make sure they complete every piece of paper and do every assignment.
What kind of notebooking pages do you use?
Almost all of our notebooking pages are provided in our student materials packet from My Father’s World. I have used free online sheets and have made my own. But the longer I homeschool, I realize how freed up my time is to simply use what is provided for us. It’s not like there aren’t 100 other things I could be doing with my time—like meal planning (groan)/
What are the educational advantages of notebooking?
Notebooking challenges children to organize their thoughts. It reinforces learning by requiring the information to be actively expressed and not just passively received. Notebooking also allows you to have great examples of what they were learning and provides a way to show growth from one year to the next.
Thank you, Lainie, for a glimpse into how you use notebooking.
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