These five notebooking styles for your homeshool will give you options for students with varying learning styles. You don’t have to rely on fill in the blank workbook pages or standard essay response questions. Let your kids express their learning in ways that are natural to them.
Most will agree that notebooking usually contains two components: written and visual. The way you incorporate these things will vary based on age, personal preference, and learning style. There is so much room for adding unique flair and developing a sense of true ownership over learning.
Support, help, encourage, and model along the way. If your kids see that you use notebooking as a legitimate aid to your own learning, they may be more willing to give it a try.
For any of these notebooking styles, the type of notebook, paper, or organizational system doesn’t really matter. Blank sketch books, composition books, spiral notebooks, or loose-leaf paper in a three-ringed binder are all fine. Choose what appeals to you most.
Five Notebooking Styles for Your Homeschool:
Journaling is a very basic and common form of notebooking. A journal, in the traditional sense, is more writing intensive than visual. But there are also forms like art or nature journals that rely heavily on images.
You are probably familiar with learning journals from your own educational experiences. You can help your child along by providing open ended prompts to write about, or leave it completely up to choice. Simply Charlotte Mason has some great ideas for prompts that would work well for journaling.
You could create a journal for each of your school subjects or use one journal for everything. If or when your journal fills up, you can always start a new one. When kids are very young, I prefer one place for everything. I think it feels less overwhelming and provides a sense of satisfaction as it fills up. As kids mature, separate journals for each subject may be more beneficial.
As with anything in homeschooling, start out slowly and build up to where you want to be. Meet your child where he is. If the act of physically writing is still a challenge, start by asking for a verbal response and you can do the writing. You can build up to tracing part, writing part, learning to type, or labeling drawings. If your kids enjoy art, they can draw, decorate, or use colored pens and stickers. If they enjoy visuals to look back on, but drawing causes frustration, they can print pictures to cut and paste.
2. Interactive Notebook
I see an interactive notebook as a cross between a notebook and a lapbook. It uses some of the fun foldable glue in elements that you would see in a lapbook, but without the file folder. This allows you to have many more pages in one place than a file folder lapbook does. It may also be easier to store depending on the type of notebook you choose to use.
If you have a child who enjoys hands on, cutting and pasting, layering in information, and cards and foldables for later review, this option may work for you. There are options for pre-made lapbooks that contain useful elements for interactive notebooking. You could also find blank lapbook elements and create as you go. Here are some free editable elements. You can type directly on these or print out and write or draw on them.
Sometimes I find it more convenient to have the kids spend a day printing, cutting, and folding a bunch of blank glue-in elements ahead of time. You can store them in baggies or a box for later. This makes it easier to grab a foldable, fill it out, and glue it in your notebook with a lot less fuss in the middle of your school day.
3. Smash Book
I love the idea of a smash book. It think the concept was originally created as a type of add as you go travel journal. It’s less laid out and particular than a traditional scrapbook, and more focused on content than form. You can glue in photographs, brochures, receipts, print-outs, whatever suits you.
I think this style will appeal to kids that get stressed out by perfectionism or the idea that their page must look a certain way. “Smash book” is a fun name that drives home randomness and creativity. It doesn’t need to be sloppy, but there is definitely not the expectation of a particular lay-out or preconceived outcome.
I love this article about making history smash books for homeschool. I also love how they included links or codes to online videos or websites. You could even record your child giving a presentation, enjoying a field trip, singing a song, or making an art piece. This could be added to a personal blog or private YouTube channel and noted as a link in your notebook to look back on.
4. Printable Notebooking Page Templates
Some kids get completely stressed out when facing a blank page. Instead of feeling the creative possibilities, it’s total overwhelm at the thought of filling up the space. Sometimes, lines, boxes, and diagrams can be less intimidating and provide comforting limits.
You can keep these pages in a three-ringed binder or glue them into a notebook or journal. There are many resources online for blank or themed notebooking pages. Some are for free and some are for purchase. It’s also fairly easy to create your own in a word processing program or online platform like Canva.
Some free printable notebooking templates can be found here.
Some people prefer to start notebooking using a timeline. Keeping a timeline in a notebook is helpful if you don’t have the space to display one on your wall. It’s also a notebook that is more easily done as a collaborative project with early elementary kids. This can be a good way to ease into the concept of notebooking. You can make one family timeline notebook and take turns adding to it or deciding which people or events to include.
There’s a specific lay-out and a place for everything. You can use a ruler and a pen to draw and label your own timeline pages or print some out. Here is one source for a printable timeline notebook. You can draw, write, and glue-in pictures.
It’s also a great visual overview that makes it easy to make new connections. This is especially true when you add people and events from varying subject areas like artists, musicians, world leaders, well-known scientists, authors of great literature, and so on.
You may choose to have your kids draw the images to place in your notebook. Sometimes this helps kids feel a little more connection to the subject and aid in remembering. If this is intimidating or you want to spend your time elsewhere, here is one resource for free printable timeline figures to cut and paste into your notebook.
Thanks for listening, friend.