Notebooking Questions and Answers

Notebooking Questions & Answers

I really want to learn notebooking. How do I start? How do you choose what, how, and when to notebook?

My best advice would be to just start. Don’t wait until everything “looks” a certain way or you think you have everything you “need”. Your kids will surprise you with their creativity.

When I started notebooking I began with history, but this was just me. I love to notebook history because there is so much you can include: historical maps of the civilization, event, empire; quotes from whomever you are studying; and great images you might find online. We love the Usborne Internet Linked World History Encyclopedia! Along with the links to enhance your studies, they also have maps and clipart you can add to your pages.

At the moment, we are working on the dinosaur packet available on my website. We spent a couple days last week reading about dinosaurs. This week we are filling out fact sheets for the dinosaurs and then from those we write up a brief narration about the dinosaur, color the picture, and mark on the map where fossil evidence has been found.

Another really easy way to start is to begin a nature notebook. Just spend some time outside and have the kids look for something interesting to write about. It might be a cluster of lady bugs in a bush or an ant hill. They can take pictures of the things they find and use the pictures to look up what they find. The pictures can be included in their notebook, along with any information they find in their research.

I like to print most of my pages onto 24 lb. paper, but you could use 18 lb. without any problems. I print cover pages onto card stock. If the kids are going to be doing a lot of gluing on a page we might also use card stock. I collect scrapbook materials when I find them on sale. We like to use “fancy” paper behind some of the images as borders or use punched out shapes to dress up the pages. This is not the most important part of notebooking, but once the research is done and the pages are mostly put together you can add all the “frills”.

Can you tell me a little bit more about copy work and how you notebook it?

Copywork is means of showing your child how a piece of literature should look and be written. When your child does copywork it is important that they not look at a word and copy one letter at time, but look at the whole word and write it. This really helps a lot with spelling. Seeing the proper way to punctuate and the usage the different parts of speech is also a key to copywork. Your child can’t help but do better in their writing if they are daily see great works of literature and copying them.

Copywork can very easily be brought into notebooking. I keep a bookshelf in my schoolroom with books of poetry, fables and quotes. They also take their copywork from their literature. I also have a binder where I put quotes and scripture verses for them to copy. I still have young children who copy and so I make sure to find very short verses for them. However, since they are used to copywork, I can also give them a longer
piece to copy and they might spend a week on it, copying one or two lines a day. I couldn’t do this with my older kids when we first started out because it would overwhelm them.

All you need is a basic notebook page for these notebooks. If your child enjoys illustrating make sure there is an illustration box for them to add a drawing to. I like to look for coloring pages for my younger ones and shrink them down to fit onto their pages. I copy it to my desktop, drag it into my drawing program and create a page for them. This way the page is all ready for them to write and color. One of my younger kids enjoys drawing his own pictures and another likes coloring a picture which has already been provided for her. I do have a primary copywork packet available on my website.

Over the years I’ve done different things to get the kids motivated about doing their copywork . . . I used to keep separate jars with scripture verses, quotes, and poems and they would pull them out and that was their copywork for the day. We still alternate days doing a verse, quote, poem, literature and their choice for each day of the week. Although, like I mentioned before, some selections take more then one day.

I bought the book on inventors and the notebook pages from you, but what do I do with them? How do we study the subject? What is my part and what is my son’s part?

Much of notebooking is having your kids narrate back what is read that day. The pages you purchased will be nice to have him copy his narration onto. Use the fact sheet to fill in the facts as you come to them or have him research the answers over the next few days. Once that is completed he could use it to write a report on the subject.

If you have the inventors book you could just read through one or two sections a day and have him write about what you read. You can also do further study by checking out books from the library and utilizing the internet.

The empty boxes provided on some pages are for illustrations, such as diagrams. The boxes could also be used to add quotes, maps of where the invention was introduced or the inventors birthplace. You might find a picture of a monument in his honor. If your son enjoys making models he could put something together that relates to what you are studying and add a picture of it to his page.

One other thing about narration . . . I have an 8 year old who narrates to me as I write it on a separate piece of paper. I still have him use primary lines (he’s a bit messy) and often use a highlighter, writing in the narration for him to trace over. If his narration is long, we decide together what the most important part of the narration was, and he writes it on the paper. I still add his whole narration to his notebook, but because writing is a struggle for him I don’t push it too much. I usually type it out for him. Although, he really enjoys typing and will sometimes type part of them out himself.

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