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Notebooking Basics

What is Notebooking?

Along with lapbooking, notebooking has become a popular educational tool for homeschoolers. Notebooking is the process of creating a record of student learning in journal format, and it is sometimes called an interactive notebook. This can be done in a variety of ways, ranging from recording information and drawings in a simple spiral notebook to using intricate, pre-created journal pages that can be printed and placed in a three-ring binder. As notebooking has gained in popularity, scores of free and for-purchase downloadable pages have been uploaded to the internet, covering almost any topic.

Notebooking Through the Stages

Here are some suggestions for incorporating notebooking into your curriculum choice in each stage of learning.

Getting Excited

2nd - 4th Grade

The Getting Excited stage offers a great time to introduce notebooking, as your child transitions from playful learning to slightly more structured learning. Notebooking is an excellent way to assess and record young students’ comprehension without using traditional workbooks and worksheets. It allows students to demonstrate what they have learned and what is important to them as they choose which parts of the learning to put in their notebooks. It is best to require little to no writing in the early years, allowing students to use drawings to convey their understanding of the topic. Gradually, as students gain writing skills, have them label their drawings, then move on to writing simple sentences as well as drawing.

Beginning to Understand

5th - 8th Grade

By middle school, students should be writing several sentences about what they have learned; but drawing is still a powerful memory tool as well. Notebooking can be especially useful in science and history, where students can label diagrams and create timelines to help remember information. Their pages can also let parents in on how the student is processing information and can be a great avenue for assessing spelling and grammar skills.

Consider your purpose and rules for notebooking at this age, however; are you more interested in the pages being a reflection of what has been learned, or do you want to insist on correct grammar and mechanics? These are two different processes, and trying to make sure that every punctuation mark is correct can greatly reduce the content-area benefits of notebooking.

Learning to Reason

9th - 12th Grade

At the high school level, notebooking pages should begin to reflect the deep thoughts students are having at this age. Students should not only record what they are learning, but also the why and how. Their notebooking should include connections between the learning and themselves and the learning and other content areas and issues. If you haven’t tried notebooking before, it’s still worth introducing at this age. Developing a daily journaling habit can improve both thought processes and writing skills.

Creating Your Own Notebooking Pages

You can use a word processing program to easily create pages with a box or two for artwork and several lines for writing. Using Power Point or a drawing program to create notebooking pages allows you to easily move things around. Take advantage of free clip-art, graphics, and images to dress up your pages. Then save and print. And consider allowing older students to create their own pages!

Notebooking, while rapidly gaining in popularity in homeschooling, is a spin on old-fashioned journaling that has been around for ages. Why not try it today?

With five kids in their teen and early adult years, Rebecca shares the many ups and downs of parenting, homeschooling, and keeping it all together. As the Well Planned Gal she mentors women towards the goal of discovering the uniqueness Christ has created in them and their family and how to best organize and plan for the journey they will travel.

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