As I wrote yesterday, we are now a journaling homeschool bunch. I bought Smash Books for the boys over Christmas break and they loved have the freedom to doodle, draw, write, paste collected articles and pics, and to record anything they wanted to remember. In watching how much they learned and how naturally they took to their notebooks, I remembered a mom I had met online who used notebooking as her main method of homeschooling. The kids read or are read to and then they create a notebook page based on what they just heard.
At times they will have a flood of information and sketches to fill their pages and other times I (mom) will need to guide them with dictation, copywork, and mini-book report type prompts. Language art gets incorporated into all other subjects; many times history, science, math and language arts are combined as we read and explore a biography or an event that helped shape our world today. In this post I am going to run through a sampling of books I found throughout the years and how they are lending themselves to notebooking. Pretty soon I’ll have some really nice pictures to go along with my posts, but the boys are just getting the hang of this so I’m not quite ready to start posting pics just yet.
*Side note… we have always incorporated notebook pages into hs’ing, but in the form of binders. Each boy had a binder for each main subject and all papers went into that binder. I can see how this would be a great idea as it can be easily added to with worksheets and all kinds of extras with the simple click of a hole-punch. For our family it didn’t excite them. The binders seems to be too much and it was not personal for them. With the composition book (one per child at a time) has made the process seem more “theirs” and more permanent. It also provides one linear book of a portfolio that is all theirs. Should we need to add a page or a snippet of an article, we use methods taken from Dinah Zike’s Notebook Foldables or ideas from The Ultimate Lap Book Handbook.
Each of the boys has 3 reading lists; one for science, one for history, and one for everything else… stories, literature, poetry, readers and read-alouds.
For the younger boys:
Anything written by Thornton Burgess, the One Small Square Series, Christian Liberty Nature Readers, or the If You Lived When… series. These books cover science and social studies topics. I use A Child’s Book of American History as a spine and Usborne’s Series of Science Encyclopedia and Usborne for Beginners science readers as a cover-all to make sure we don’t miss any important topics. My middle child loves History for Little Pilgrims even though I’m not super fond of the religiousness of it, but it gets him excited about history and our family tree and so I read it with him despite my distaste for it. It’s not so bad, just really heavy on the Christian History.
Every single week we designate one day to science projects, nature study, picture study, and observation recording of ongoing projects and experiments. The other 4 days we notebook at least three separate topics each day. Readers don’t get a notebook page as we use Sonlight Language Arts and follow their notebook pages. They read from their book and then do the activities in the SL manual. I supplement with Explode the Code and sometimes my own handwriting or copywork assignments.
When working with the younger boys, we open to the first, or next page, read the spread, copy any important words, dates, people, or events into our notebook. After we’ve absorbed all we can out of the book, it’s time to expand on the notes we took. Mommy writes the notes as the kids dictate them to me until they are strong writers. I provide tracing paper liberally so that the boys can sketch accurate illustrations to go along with their definitions and descriptions. Up until 3rd grade all of our history and science books have excellent illustrations. We are all very visual learners in this house… even mama:)
For moral and character reading, I chose Family Time Bible, Window on the World, Aesop’s Fables, Little Pilgrim’s Progress, and I heard Good News Today.
Big Bird writes mini reports in his journal. Anything he finds noteworthy. He also copies any words in bold to be looked up later, important names, dates and events. His Sonlight language arts has given him a firm foundation in pre-writing and note-taking. His books include reading lists we come up with together. Mostly classics… Indian in the Cupboard, Charlotte’s Web, Peter Pan, etc. The Science and History reading list was put together using A Child’s First Book of American History, and Science Dictionaries and Encyclopedias as a spine. I borrow most of the books from Childhood of Famous Americans series list. The books include Thomas A. Edison, Betsy Ross, John Glenn, Buffalo Bill, and Neil Armstrong. Beyond Five in a Row manuals have wonderful ideas and outlines on how to turn these books into unit studies. My absolute favorite book list for this age range is in the Young Patriot Series. We used these as read-alouds for Big Bird when he was just a little guy and he LOVED them. Now as history/science readers he knows he is going to enjoy them. And hopefully as a result we will have a composition books full of gorgeous notebook pages by summertime. Come gardening and homesteading time those notebooks will be full of farmer’s notes. (I really want baby chicks… we’ll see if hubby agrees by then!)
So here it is… my super quick mini-explanation of the notebook schooling we are doing. I hope to expand on the book list and the books we chose to leave out for now as well (such as Apologia), along with our reasons.
My next post, in the coming days will list all of the wonderful benefits of notebooking as an option over prepared curriculum or other methods. I want to write about how nicely it fits in with Charlotte Mason and unit studies. Notebooking as a primary means of homeschooling seems to really prepare students for college and the rigorous demands for well written papers and a thesis. I also hope to write an entire post… several actually, on nature study and hands-on science study resources for young boys. Through trial and error I have found some real gems. In the most random of places sometimes. I will gather up all of those book titles and why they are 5-star homeschool resources in my eyes. Isn’t it wonderful how the homeschool community works? We are always really excited to share anytime something works well… that’s me right now. Thank you for letting me share. 🙂
Thanks for reading my little blog. I sure do enjoy writing about homeschooling and hope that you enjoy reading. Please feel free to post a link to your blog if you have some advice or simply encouragement to share. I appreciate all feedback.
Have a wonderful week!