Notebooking is an idea with which I have a love-hate relationship. I love it because it provides my children with a creative outlet, it requires that they regurgitate what they’ve learned from our reading and discussions, and it gives them with a great way to review what they’ve learned as they look back through their notebook all school year.
I also despise notebooking some days. I don’t like the mess, with tiny bits of paper on the carpet under the table, stray crayons found in the toddler’s hand, stickers shoved willy-nilly back into the storage container, or crumpled up notebooking pages that never made it into the notebook to begin with.
I asked my kids what they think of it. They said that they like the drawing, cutting, gluing, and decorating parts, but they don’t like writing. (Aaack! Break this writer-momma’s heart!)
“Really?” I asked. I can’t remember a time in my life that I didn’t enjoy writing (or talking!).
“Mom, I never know what to say.”
“I hate staring at a blank piece of paper.”
“I don’t like writing in cursive.”
“We need ideas, Mom.”
Okay, so other than the “don’t like writing in cursive” part, I see a common theme here. No one is creative every day. It helps a lot to have some ideas of what to say or do on our notebooking pages.
I looked back at August 2009, when we first started using notebooking at our home and I blogged about it. Back then, I confidently wrote,
“Each day, I find something for them to ‘notebook’ about. (This might be the hardest part? but it has been easy to think of things so far.)”
Famous last words. I did purchase the wonderful Favorite Poems Old and New so that we could copy poems into our notebooks. I also purchased some handwriting fonts from Educational Fontware so that I could easily make my own copywork pages. This has helped.
However, it’s hard for us moms to give ideas to our children when we honestly have no idea what to tell them. I made a list of some ideas for each subject, and I printed it and placed it in my planning notebook so that I could refer to it if needed:
- Copy memory verses.
- Illustrate what you heard in today’s reading. (Examples: days of creation, Noah’s ark, the ten plagues, the tabernacle, the defeat of Jericho, Solomon’s temple, miracles of Jesus, etc.)
- Tell three things you learned in your private Bible reading today.
- Tell about the life of this Bible character.
- More Bible ideas…
- Timelines — Copy a picture of this person from your book or the Internet.
- Maps — Copy this map.
- Battles — Draw a map of this battle.
- List 3 or more reasons why this event happened.
- List 3 or more results from this event.
- Copy a Bible verse that could be applied to this event.
- More history ideas…
- Experiments – Fill in a scientific method worksheet about your experiment.
- Illustrate this principle.
- Illustrate the planets discussed, etc.
- Copy the plant and label its parts.
- Draw a picture of this animal in its natural habitat.
- Tell why this is an evidence of God’s creation rather than evolution.
- More science ideas…
- Give three reasons why you believe your point of view is correct.
- Give three reasons why the Bible supports this view.
- Choose an audience for your story (a toddler, a grandmother, your next-door neighbor, etc.).
- Imagine what life would be like if… and tell about a day.
- Answer “who, what, when, where, why, and how.”
- 1st sentence: Tell me what your topic is. Then write three sentences about this topic. Finally, tell me why you wrote about this topic.
- Use the From Heart to Page Journal or KidTalk Conversation Cards for creative writing topics.
I think the nicest option for busy moms is a curriculum that already includes notebooking ideas. Curriculum suggestions can always be tweaked to fit my family, but at least they give me someplace to start. That’s helpful! (Coffee only goes so far…)
I personally downloaded the “Basic Lined Notebooking Pages,” and I simply print out a lined page for my children to use when I can’t find a more appropriate page for the day. This set includes over 200 pages with borders and boxes and multitudes of ideas, most of which are black-and-white for my kids to decorate, and a few of which are in color (if I have color ink in my printer). My kids enjoy surfing through them to pick one that fits what they are writing about that day.
For articles on how to use notebooking in your homeschool, visit my friend Debra’s NotebookingPages.com.