Notebooking Spotlight: Phyllis

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

Today we have Phyllis in the spotlight.

Phyllis blogs at All Things Beautiful where she shares her creative ideas for homeschooling her five children (one is a homeschool graduate).

When did you start notebooking?

Notebooking is something that has grown just as our homeschooling has grown. I can’t really pin-point when we started notebooking, but I began collecting their work as soon as they were old enough to sit at the table and make their own pages. We usually began with blank pages of paper because when children are little they want to be able to express themselves without any limitations. When they get a little older, they might begin asking what types of things I wanted for their narrations. Then the structure of a pre-made notebook page was helpful.

geography notebooking page

When I read living books to my kids, I would ask them to narrate back what they had learned. Sometimes they narrated with a picture, other times with  words. Usually it was a combination. I began that when my oldest was four and continued adding each of the boys as they got old enough to sit at the table (around age 2-4).

I initially resisted using pre-made notebooking pages because I felt that they were limiting. Then Barb of The Handbook of Nature Study offered me some notebooking pages for nature study. I was pleasantly surprised at how much my boys enjoyed filling in the blanks which were open-ended enough.  It also encouraged them to learn the appropriate things to include in a nature study page such as the season and the weather.

What is your favorite thing about notebooking?

I love the fact that it is so versatile and that it shows what part of the homeschool lesson meant the most to each child. The whole process of completing a notebook page helps them remember what they have learned on a personal basis. It is not the kind of learning you get with memorization and testing, just to forget  the information right after the test.

history notebooking page

Many people have commented on the fact that even though I teach all of my children the same subjects at the same time, their notebooks look entirely different. I make sure they pick what they are most interested in about the subject we are studying to pursue for their notebooks. They decide for themselves what they want to include in their notebooks and how to accomplish this.

My children also love looking through their notebooks and seeing all the work they have accomplished.

What subjects do you use notebooking for?

Notebooking is so versatile that it is good for all subjects:  history, English, geography, math, science, art, music, foreign languages. Any subject, really.

math notebooking page

We notebook every thing we do, including math. They write instructions and examples in their math notebooks and they also make up all of their own math problems. I no longer have any need for worksheets of any type.

Good books and experiences are the heart of our school and notebooking is an expression of this learning.

What are your best notebooking tips?

Don’t be afraid to experiment! People, by their nature, like to do things the same way all the time and take comfort it this. My advice is to fight that urge; instead, continually try something new. You will be rewarded for your efforts because it excites the mind and encourages creativity.

scrapbook style notebook

What kind of notebooking pages do you use?

I usually use freebie notebooking pages. I have used History Portfolios by Home School Journey, and liked them very much because they gave lots of choice as to how to go about making the books uniquely your own.

When we do notebooking, we add lapbooking pieces to our pages. Some of our work, like the postcard-geography book,  is more like a scrapbook.

Thank you, Phyllis for this glimpse into how you use notebooking. I loved hearing your explanations and seeing your photos.

If you would like to be featured in a spotlight post, 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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Phyllis at All Things Beautiful Reply

Thank you for the interview, Jimmie. I am honored.

Discovering Montessori Reply

I am always amazed by the work of Phyllis’s home school activities. Her children produce a lot of work that I consider high standard with a whole lot of fun. I enjoy reading her postings everyday and I always leave inspired. Thank you Phyllis for sharing how you incorporate this into your home school. I think I am going to give notebooking a try.

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