We are so turned on to the notebooking way of doing things. We love the concept. Taking a blank canvass and allowing the child to determine what goes on that canvass based on delight driven interests, with some gentle nudging by his wonderful parents, won’t you know. These tips, great for getting started in the notebooking world, can also be applied for those that WANT their kids to actually be able to influence the future with technology. So, we do Blog-booking. It’s the same setup for notebooking, often times using the template for notebooking, and then having our son transfer all that information over to his own personal blog. Same concept, gone- well, gone hi-tech! I’m sure Charlotte Mason would approve of using modern technology – being aware and proactive about how to use it rather than isolationist and shunning its ‘here to stay’ presence.
Notebooking/Blogbooking gives our children an opportunity to:
- CREATE— instead of consume,
- THINK — instead of recall facts,
- PRODUCE — a reference work or keepsake instead of filling out a workbook to store or toss.
Like most things that offer freedom, there is a learning curve: Where do I start? What do I put in it? How am I going to fill all of these lines?! Yes, a blank “canvas” can be frightening, even overwhelming! But once you are over the learning-curve, the rewards are more than worth it!
Tips For Getting Started
- Start small. Appreciate the fact that a blank page can be intimidating, especially to a young child unaccustomed to writing. Begin with a simple booklet or lapbook where less writing is required. Graduate to a simple form with a large space at the top for illustrating and only a few lines below. Eventually your child will be ready for a blank piece of paper! Our Beginner Notebooking Page
- Introduce notebooking gradually. It may be a hard hill to climb if you suddenly switch from workbooks to notebooks in every activity or subject area! Notebooking requires more from the student. Switch over one area of study at a time.
- Begin with an interest. Something has to go in for something to come out. And it is easier to get something in when it is something of interest to the child! Let him pursue his interest and create a notebook on his subject.
- Don’t expect perfection. Remember, this is a personal endeavor on the part of the child. We will only short-circuit the process if we overwhelm the child by expecting more from him than he is capable of at the time. We do not want to red-line everything and dampen his enthusiasm! Pick one skill area or area of improvement to work on at a time.
- Walk one step at a time. One day, if all goes well, your older student will grab a notebook or binder off of the shelf, ready to fill the blank pages with a new project. In the meantime, gradually increase the difficulty of his notebooking assignments only as he increases in skill and is ready to move on.
A Literature Notebook
This is a great way to catalog all the wonderful books being read for school. While we follow the advice of other Charlotte Mason users, and allow our son to have books that he reads purely for the pleasure and enjoyment of reading, we also have books directly tied to his learning. These books, we use reading or literature analysis questions to help him begin to form structured, thoughtful opinions and responses to the books he reads for academic purpose. He now blog-books about them. Here are some helpful tips and hints about a Literature Blog-book.
- Start small. Fill a binder with attractive notebooking pages for carefully — and neatly — recording the titles, authors, and dates of books read. Begin the recording habit!
- Growing the Blog. Branch out to forms that include room for a brief synopsis and other interesting information. You can even include room for illustrating a character or scene if your child is artistic.
- The Blank Page. Next, start with that blank page (the goal of notebooking!). Your child can create a page in their literature notebook for each book read that includes the title, date read, and other agreed-to information, with room for quotes, notes, and other personally relevant thoughts. See printable next bullet point.
- Written Narrations. Instead of a “book report,” include a few written narrations in the literature notebook, or one final summary narration for each book. Reading Log.
- Note Taking. Older students can include any notes that they may have taken while reading the book; questions asked, and answered (or that are unanswered that still need to researched). Any highlighting made while reading can be transcribed into personal book notes.
- Write a critical review. An older student should be able to do this type of paper for each of the works read. Rather than how well a piece of literature was enjoyed (how it made him feel or what he didn’t like), this type of review should focus on how well the author practiced his craft. Were the characters well developed? Did he paint the scenes (show /not tell)? Does the student agree with the premise? Etc.
(hint: even though most Masonites would not use a formal writing program, we do. We use CreativeWriter.com and have followed his instructions for teaching the Paragraph, 5 Paragraph Essay, and we are to begin learning Writing Tricks and then the Show Not Tell formula to our stories.)
- Make an author notebook. Instead of a book list driving the notebook, have a page for each author read. Include interesting background information about the author, and a list of the various books by the author that the student has read. Comparisons between scenes, characters, and other themes in various books by the same author can also be included. Great Form for Author Study. Author Study Form II.
Many students learn to hate history — dates, facts, figures, maps. Boring. Many historians lament that history, the way it is typically taught, simply doesn’t stick. What we need here is to remember that history is a story! Here are a few ideas for keeping the story in history while using the tool of notebooking to encourage our children to interact with what they read, and to learn for themselves.
- Oral transcribed. At the younger age levels, rely on engaging biographies and books of historical fiction to tell the story. Have your child (briefly) narrate to you orally what he learned. You can write his thoughts down on paper for him and place them in his history notebook.
- Bible + Man’s Story = HIS-Story (History). Study Bible history right along with secular history. (Some of us older folks had one in Sunday school and the other in public school and it took years to figure out that the Egypt with pyramids was the same as the Egypt of the Bible!)
- Primary Source Documents. When the student reaches the higher levels, you can add primary source documents. Consider adding comparisons/contrasts, cause/effect and cover the broader concepts. Discussing what you a re reading will greatly aid the process of blog-booking (notebooking). That also means that you HAVE to actually read and learn the material presented.
- Include maps in your history blogbook of each of the locations studied. We don’t often do this, but once in a while we do. This area can be overdone and become a cumbersome chore instead of a learning experience. So one exhortation — not EVERYTHING has to be mapped!
- Consider keeping a timeline. This can actually be the history notebook itself if you are studying history in chronological order. Or it can be its own history book with figures and brief descriptions of people and events.
- Projects. Over time you’ll probably find many engaging history projects to include in your studies. If the projects are too large for a notebook, take pictures that can be placed on your blog. That can be just as fun. Now, there is a way to transfer your entire website into a bound book. At the end of each year, we do that. We have his notebook, now his blog bound into a book for reference later.
- Add A Spine. As your child progresses, add an engaging and factual history spine to work from. Add biographies and historical fiction. Your child can write his own narrations and keep them in his history notebook.
- Cross Curricular. You will find your history notebook begins to grow larger in proportion to other areas of study. So don’t be surprised if your history notebook includes music, art, and scientists, and you have difficulty keeping things separate. It is OK to lose the “subject” delineations and just learn!