Notebooking is simply the name homeschoolers have given the written or creative retelling of information you have just learnt.  When my kids notebook I expect them to have a title, an image and words.  I expect them to tell me what they thought was important or interesting in whatever it is we have just read or studied together (or something they have learnt independently.)  With this simple framework notebooking is flexible for each student regardless of their abilities.

There are many templates for notebooking pages.  Most of them consist of a border, lines for writing, a box for a drawing, and/or images already selected for your chosen subject. On the one hand these templates make it easy for us – in  a sense it is like a worksheet – we hand them out to our kids and they fill it in, only difference (and it is a very good difference) the kids get to choose what content to fill it in with.

We have used very few of these predesigned templates.  Instead I give my children a blank piece of paper (or computer screen) and tell them to fill it as they like.  Of course this is intimidating at the start so I guide them through it.

Initially most of the notebook pages are a drawing and a few sentences either dictated to me, or written by the children themselves.

Notebooking can be a drawing with captions or you can write what your children say about their drawing, or get them to write at least one sentence themselves.

You can stick your typed words onto a drawing

Even as they grow older illustrations are a valid way of recording what we know / have learnt:

Illustrations, diagrammes, maps are all good ways to record your learning

Sometimes the children have enjoyed using other art materials on their notebook pages, namely:  textas (markers), coloured paper, punches, stickers.

Torn paper created this collage of different things that convicts did to establish Australia

the sail of the viking boat flips up to reveal her research work on Vikings

But making our own notebook pages come into its own when I let the kids loose on the computer.   First, we work with Microsoft Word.  My kids learn to touch type at a young age and I don’t allow them to create word based projects until they are touch typing (they may be slow but need to be fairly accurate).   Children generally don’t face computer software like adults do – they are confident that nothing will be permanently damaged so they’ll give any button a go.  They’ll explore and try – and really, what harm can they come to?  The worst that will happen is that they’ll delete their own work and this will create tears but it will also raise a good lesson – save your work as you go.

Using Microsoft Word Daniel used the functions of wordart for the title, he found images online and inserted them, and added his journaling.

[Tweet “Creating your own notebook pages is a great way to teach your kids computer skills”]

I remember Joshua creating pictures of a cricket pitch and another of a train by using ‘shapes’ on Word.  He knew more about manipulating this aspect than I did.  Jessica loved word art and would play around with that feature creating all sorts of different titles for her notebook pages.But making our own notebook pages come into its own when I let the kids loose on the computer.   First, we work with Microsoft Word.  My kids learn to touch type at a young age and I don’t allow them to create word based projects until they are touch typing (they may be slow but need to be fairly accurate).   Children generally don’t face computer software like adults do – they are confident that nothing will be permanently damaged so they’ll give any button a go.  They’ll explore and try – and really, what harm can they come to?  The worst that will happen is that they’ll delete their own work and this will create tears but it will also raise a good lesson – save your work as you go.

Once your children are using the computer they need to understand the filing system – the simpler the better.  I have a file for each child and all their work gets filed there.  They know how to find this file and as they have grown in their understanding they have created their own files within files to keep their work organised.  This in and of itself is a key learning objective – notebooking just gives it context!

Then they start to insert photos (which they can find on your computer) or they can learn how to use a scanner so they can copy something from a book and put it on their notebook page.   Once they have the freedom to use the internet they start searching for images and inserting what they find into their notebook page (I supervise image searches for many years).  So not only are they making their own original notebook page they are learning the skills necessary to use the search engines and consider copyright issues.

Then my kids moved to Microsoft Publisher – especially Jessica who enjoyed playing around with different design ideas for her notebook page – should she put the image here or over here?  Would this title look best like this or that?  What about a coloured background.  You can do all these things on Word, but she enjoyed Publisher.

Using a Publisher template Jess created interest in her notebook page -she also inserted an image found online.

The kids also did a little bit with Microsoft Powerpoint – they enjoyed the animation options there.

Now a days, my kids (especially Naomi)  are enjoying a digital scrapbooking programme – we use Panstoria’s Artisan programme – kind of like Photoshop but much more automated.  The same skills are used:  design (make the page easy and pleasant to read), using graphics (using images/art is a part of telling the story), they use words in a title and in sentences or lists to communicate what they are learning.

Using Creative Memories Storybook Creator Plus – Naomi considered design, as well as how to fit it all on one page! She found images online and used various scrapbooking elements to add interest.

When we let our children create their own notebook pages they are not only consolidating the content of the lessons that they’ll be writing about, but we are also allowing them to develop art and technology skills as well.

Let your kids make their own notebook pages instead of using templates.

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