When it comes to notebooking, FREE is a beautiful word! However, free quality notebooking pages are few and far between!
Recently, I took a look at the notebooking pages I created for our children and realized they are sort of ugly.
It all began as the little girls and I were doing a mini study on Abraham Lincoln. Daddy watched the movie Young Mr. Lincoln with Henry Fonda (have you ever seen that one? I love old movies that leave you feeling good about life, and this is one of those. If you have any way to view it you should) and it captured our attention.
So…after we watched the movie we kept talking about it, and before you knew it I was looking into our books for a story about Lincoln’s life, and then we were reading it and then…I knew just a tittle in a composition book was not going to cut it. We needed something more thorough to express our interest.
However, when I flipped through our catalog of notebooking pages I was quite dissatisfied. That’s when I decided to revamp the whole lot, and then I thought I could share them with you, my dear readers!
A few more notes on notebooking.
Lately people on Facebook have been asking me for details on using notebooking pages, so I thought this would be a nice place to post more details.
Prepared pages is actually only one of two ways we notebook. The other one is to use composition books and fill them up with visual and written elements (I have an extensive post about that here). Sometimes the composition book way is easier, other times something we are studying just begs for an actual printed out page that has neat spaces for everything. This also allows us to fill our huge binder (which is sort of like creating our own encyclopedia).
Note: When it comes to notebooking pages, I don’t like to use the ones with most of the work done already, with graphics or specific questions for each space. To me this is too much like workbook work. Personally, I like my children to have to think and exert some effort. They need to decide what they found interesting or important, and they need to come up with visual ideas from their own minds, even if that means they print something out from the Internet to paste in, at least they have had to make the extra effort to research and find it. In the end they have the satisfaction of exerting effort to create something interesting and pleasant to the eye.
Did you know that you really only need two elements for a good notebooking page? Here they are:
That’s it! The written helps them solidify ideas and gives them a venue to practice their language skills. The visual gives them an emotional anchor or connection so the information “sticks.”
You say you have loads of kids at different ages? No sweat!
Let’s say you have kids the ages of four, six, ten, and twelve and you have been studying Abraham Lincoln. Conventional learning says you need a separate history curriculum for each age, but homeschooling says, “Oh yeah? Just watch this…”
Have the four-year-old copy the name Abraham or Lincoln (or even a simple “Abe”). Then he can cut out a printed picture of President Lincoln, or a log cabin and paste it into the notebooking page (or you could cut it out for him and let him paste it). If he’s in good spirits, he could try his hand at scribbling something that sort of approximates Lincoln’s visage (face) in a little square on his notebooking page. Of course, by then he will have moved on to force feeding kibble to the dog or seeing how high he can jump off of the couch, but that’s just fine since you’ve just touched on some critical components of his education (namely, phonemic awareness, spacial understanding, fine motor exercise). If he’s showing more interest he could dictate a few sentences to you and you could write them in for him.
The six-year-old can practice some of the same, but maybe you could require a few more words or pictures. The ten-year-old will need to write complete sentences, maybe at least one for each visual element, and you should require more of them.
To save time and keep frustration at bay, it’s a good idea to have a white board (or old-fashioned chalk board) handy to jot down a list of words they will all need to write into the page, in this case it might be: president, log cabin, splitting rails, slavery, civil war, etc. You could even write down whole sentences they dictate to you so they could copy them onto their pages.
I try to be available to help jog their memory or to help them spell words or find resources.
The twelve-year-old should be able to write at least one short paragraph and do some more intricate drawings, including perhaps a map or other graphic. He should be required to so some reading beyond what you are sharing with the little ones and then pull out some interesting facts to include on his pages.
If you are like me, you have a few children who like to go as fast as possible and do the least work necessary. This is why you need to announce that sub-par pages will be done over, from scratch. Don’t worry, this will not hamper their creativity, it will keep them focused, especially if you also announce you will be snapping photos and sharing them on social media :).
Older children should write at least a page, and their drawings and maps should have added information included. Host a discussion to unearth their honest opinions and then have them dig deeper to find the lesser known facts about Lincoln and the Civil War.
The entire endeavor should take no more than 15 minutes for the youngest, up to an hour for young teens, and up to two hours for the oldest.
Afterwards, make sure and make a commotion over the excellent, clever results. Show them off and read aloud the best parts. When you place them in your binder (or wherever you archive them), do it with ceremony and watch them beam with pride. (We have ours in a set of 2″ binders we keep on a shelf in the dining room. I often find these open and lying on the table where children have been leafing through them. They also like to show them to guests and relatives.)
Now for the notebooking pages…
I formulated these pages to be used at different stages of interest and ability. Some are lined for primary grades, others are for high school. Scroll through the entire set when choosing what will be the perfect fit for your child and what he is studying.
Included are pages with maps for when you are short or when you want to cover a large swath of territory, such as the westward expansion of the U.S. You can use marker or colored pencil to color portions of the country or continent.
There is a page with a grid which can be used to reproduce a map or exact picture of an individual (you start by taken a printed out original and creating a grid with light pencil on it, then using ratios–practical math–to reproduce it in perfect proportion on the notebooking page).
Note: The pages print lighter than they appear on the screen, meaning your child will find it easier to color over them than it looks.
If you have a few moments, please leave me some honest feedback so I can improve them and make them better for everyone!