Q & A: How Many Notebooks?

Share on Pinterest
There are no images.
Share with your friends


Today’s Q & A post offers something totally new — a video! Yes, the Notebooking Fairy is now vlogging. (The basic information, in text format, is below for those of you who prefer to read rather than watch.)

Q: When using notebooking, how many binders should each child have?

Do you combine all the year’s subjects into one binder or separate them by subject into individual binders?

I have a hard time figuring out a good method for keeping our unit studies and the accompanying activities all together.


A: Start with three to four binders — one for each of the main subjects.

I can tell you what has worked for our homeschool. Try it out and see if it works for you too.

In the past, I have discussed choosing different types of notebooks.  Although we use a combination of all types at different times, our favorite by far are three ring binders because they are so versatile. Therefore, I recommend you start with several three ring binders, each at least one inch thick (but as large as three inches thick).

With four binders, you can cover these major areas:

  1. history
  2. language arts
  3. science
  4. math
lang arts notebook

A Notebook for a Single Subject

If you choose to condense that down to just threebinders, you can combine math and science into one notebook. Most people begin notebooking their history lessons, so it tends to become a very thick notebook over time. Consider buying one 3 inch notebook for history and two or three 1 inch notebooks for your other subjects.

Each child needs his own notebooks, so if you have three notebooking students, you will need 9-12 notebooks total. If you already have some notebooks in your school supply stash, use what you have on hand. If buying 12 notebooks is a burden, then start with just one or two per child, and invest in new, larger notebooks when you fill up the ones you have.

There are no rules with notebooking, so there are no clear cut answers to the question of how many binders a child should have. I encourage you to try different set ups until you find what works for you.

However, organizing pages in a logical order is one of the educational benefits of notebooking. If you stick all your notebooking pages in a single notebook in a haphazard way, you will be missing out on teaching practical organization skills. Encourage your children to make good choices about how to order their notebook pages.

Let me know here in a comment how many notebooks work for your family.


Share on Pinterest
There are no images.
Share with your friends


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.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

Jodie Reply

Love the video! 🙂

Nadene Reply

Wonderful to see you! Good question – we’ve found our groove with 1 narrow notebook file with subject dividers for each child. We regularly file away the sections that get full in a very large ring binder. At the end of the year I bind their notebook pages in spiral bindings, large subjects on their own and smaller subjects together. This year my junior high child wanted to work in note-books. It is strange to have books again for some subjects and the rest in the binder. We’ll see how things work out with her new approach.

Margarete Reply

For the girls states notebooks, We will continue adding to these through the years. This way, we will see their progress. Right now, for each state (only one a day), they started with one notebook page with 3 booklets on it; 2 booklets from http://www.homeschoolshare.com and 1 from a Montessori site. When they are done all the states, we will go back to the beginning, add divide the states in proper order; example for eastern states, southern states, etc. And then, we will go to the back of each notebook page and do more booklets or whatever we decide on. After we are done the 50 states, we will go back again, and add some notebooking, booklets or whatever. We will keep on going until we run out of things to do. ~LOL~ did that make any sense to you? ~smile~
*Our SOTW 1 notebook is thick which includes a timeline. I have the biggest binder possible.

Paige Reply

Thanks for sharing this and in person, great touch :)!

Melissa Telling Reply

Great video, but it was strange for me to hear a Southern accent spoken at Northern speed. You’ve totally confused my transplanted Yankee brain. 😉

We divide notebooks by subject, year of study, unit, etc. With seven school age children I’ll let you guess how many notebooks that adds up to. 🙂 Thrift stores are a great place to pick up used three ring binders, but my kids are so hard on their notebooks that pre-used binders don’t hold up very well. We use a lot of packing tape to reinforce seams.

Mary Reply

I loved this vlog! I am forwarding your post to a friend who has recently started homeschooling.

It was great to hear your voice…it feels like you are an old friend who shares my southern accent!

Julie Reply

Okay, first of all, I didn’t expect you to sound like that, Jimmie! I feel like I know you from reading your blog for years, and I had to smile at your real voice (not the one in my head, make it stop! JK).

Regarding notebooks, I have 3 children, and I don’t know where I am going to put all the binders! I decided I woudl have one large 3-inch binder for history. For science, which I just started getting into this year, I am using a spiral drawing notebook. I got mine at Target. The paper is thicker without lines, and you can glue pages and lapbook components on it. It is not as huge as a binder, which is a real concern for me.

I am going to get each girl a large plastic bin and put their notebooks in them. I think I’ll try to store them in the garage, but not sure if I should do that in TN with the humidity and heat? Do you think it will wear them too much?

Sprittibee Reply

So nice to “see” you, Jimmie! ;0) We have lots of notebooks. Right now our main one is History b/c we are using Mystery of History. We also have a Nature Journal (in a binder) and a State Notebook where we collect all our geography bits about the states (this one is a growing binder that never gets put away in the closet – we keep it going each school year… great for doing Flat Stanley with). I also have assignment binders for the kids with their chore lists, daily assignment sheets, goals, schedules, calendar, notes, cheat sheets, prayer list, pen pal list, bible memory work, delight or individual learning list (how to use free time constructively), and a book list for them to aspire to read for the school year and keep track of what has been read. They keep a tab in this binder also for completed writing assignments, but we have long since given that one up and need to migrate to another binder for writing.

I’m a binder nut! 😉 Great vlog and topic!

Leave a Reply: