Notebooking Spotlight: Mary

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Notebooking Spotlight at The Notebooking Fairy

(photo credit by Carmela Nava)
In the Notebooking Spotlight, we feature homeschool moms who use notebooking with their children.

Today we have Mary in the spotlight.

Mary blogs at Homegrown Learners where she writes about homeschooling her two children who are nine and six years old.


Mary, how did you first learn of notebooking?

This past year when I had been homeschooling for only one year, I started seeing all this wonderful information about “notebooking” as I read blogs.

So how did you first implement notebooking?

The first notebooks were for the Lewis & Clark Expedition.  We made our own notebooks with crumpled up brown paper bag covers, tied together with yarn.  The children notebooked all of their findings on their own Lewis & Clark expedition.  This photo is of my son’s “brown devil” — his discovery of the squirrel.

Once they did this, they were asking me to make more notebooks. If you asked my children, I think they would tell you they love notebooking.  My daughter has vivid memories of being in regular school, and notebooking is a departure from traditional seatwork.

When I first started researching notebooking I was very overwhelmed.    If you start with simple projects, it is much easier.  The most simple notebook my children work in is their Story of the World notebook.  It is simply photocopied pages from the activity guide put into a notebook.  I include blank paper for writing and drawing and sometimes supplemental maps or freebie pages.

What is your favorite thing about notebooking?

I love the creativity it allows each of my children. Our notebooks, including covers, are unique. I also appreciate the tangible product of their work.  It is an assessment tool that is fun!

From an educational standpoint, I think notebooking increases retention of knowledge and also fine tunes written communication skills.

What is your greatest obstacle or difficulty in notebooking?

I struggle with having things ready for the notebooks before we begin a study.  Many times I am looking for notebooking pages while we are in the middle of a unit, and I know I should plan better.

Mary, can you share your best notebooking tips?

I try not to make notebooking an “assignment.” I like to find fun things to put in the notebooks so the children want to work in them.   I buy the white notebooks with the clear front pocket so we can slide a title page in.    I also put the child’s name on the spine of the notebook, so when they go to our bookshelves they can easily find them.

How do you use notebooks in your homeschool?

We have done notebooks for science and history. They serve as practice for copywork, writing, and composition. And now we try to use notebooking daily.

Here are sample pages from a Maine state study my nine year old did.

Notebooks are also great for show-and-tell. The last time Grandma and Grandpa visited, the children took them to the schoolroom and had to show them their notebooks.  They sat for an hour talking about everything they were learning.  I was a proud momma!

What kind of notebooking pages do you use?

I use mostly freebies- many from Notebooking Nook, The Notebooking Fairy (smile!) and Nadene’s Practical Pages.   I also use a lot of maps from Worksheet Works.

Do your notebooking expectations vary for your two children?

Yes, for my youngest (6 years old) notebooking is a lot of coloring and simple writing.  He also loves to draw his own pictures to accompany history stories or nature discoveries.  My daughter (9 years old) researches and writes things for her notebook. Sometimes she includes things she found on the Internet.

Thank you, Mary, for being willing to be interviewed. I appreciate your advice to keep it simple when starting out with notebooking. That is wise.

If you would like to be featured here in the Spotlight at The Notebooking Fairy, please send me an email.


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Jimmie Quick

Jimmie is now a veteran homeschool mom. Her daughter Emma is a student of the sciences at a large university in Illinois. Her guide to notebooking—Notebooking Success—guides you through notebooking: what it is; how to use it; how it fits a Charlotte Mason, classical, and textbook curriculum; tips for getting the most educational value from it; and much more. It comes bundled with several bonuses, including a small set of generic notebooking pages that can be used with any topic.

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Robin Reply

Thank you both for the wonderful ideas!

Mary Reply

Jimmie, thank you for the opportunity to be in the spotlight today. I just love what notebooking does for my children ~ and I am getting addicted to finding pages and even fantasize about creating some of my own!

Your site is full of so many wonderful resources!

5ennie Reply

I really like the idea of notebooking, thanks for the great resources! Mary, so cool your nine year old just did Maine – we’ve been staying there for 1.5 months and are loving it 🙂

Nadene Reply

A wonderful spotlight! I love your crumpled brown paper covers! It’s given me an idea for when we get to the Lewis & Clark expedition. And I’m so glad you have found so useful pages on my blog – I love to share! 🙂

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