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I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my daily digest via email or RSS feed. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Notebooking 101: The WHAT and WHY of Notebooking

Notebooking 101: The WHAT and WHY of Notebooking {The Unlikely Homeschool}

notebook |ˈnōtˌbo͝ok|
noun
a small book with blank or ruled pages for writing notes in


Notebooking 101: The WHAT and WHY of Notebooking {The Unlikely Homeschool}
Pages from Leonardo da Vinci's personal journal

According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, a notebook is just a tool for writing notes in. Similar to journaling, notebooks and the practice of "notebooking" can be traced back to the scholars of old. From Leonardo da Vinci who pored countless hours into meticulously cataloging his artistic pursuits and scientific discoveries to Thomas Jefferson who detailed the culinary arts of peoples around the world in his travel log and thus influenced the eating habits of a newly established United States...the world's top intellectuals and innovators have filled their shelves with notebooks. These wonderfully crafted volumes have archived the educational findings of THE GREATS and passed on a lifetime of achievement and knowledge to the generations that followed.

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Thomas Jefferson's travel log (as seen at the Library of Congress) detailing a pasta-making machine he saw while visiting Europe.

Little has changed about the basics of notebooking. It continues to be a useful enterprise for scholars of all ages, particularly those in homeschooling circles.

But WHAT is notebooking? and WHY would you want to nurture it in your homeschool?

Notebooking 101: The WHAT and WHY of Notebooking {The Unlikely Homeschool}

What is notebooking?

In its simplest form, notebooking is just journaling. It is a tool to compile and organize the written thoughts, opinions, discoveries, and experiences of an individual. Notebooking in the realm of homeschooling, obviously, has an educational emphasis. In truth, just as a scrapbook is used to archive a particular event with photographs, a notebook archives a field of study with educational memorabilia and personal notes.

While notebooks and notebooking elements can be quite varied depending upon the topic, time-span of its creation, and personality of the notebooker, most notebooks contain two simple elements...a written portion and a visual portion. The written portion can be handwritten or typed and usually details information in the notebookers own words. (There are exceptions to the "own words" suggestion. More on that later...) The visual portion can include sketches, photographs, magazine clippings, brochures, etc. and aids in illustrating the written portion.

Notebooks can record the information learned over an entire year, for one particular subject, or for a specific topic within a broader field of study. For instance, a child could compile a notebook showcasing his fifth grade year. He could create one exhibiting his experiences in science. Or, he could make one to display his findings during a two-week unit about trees. ALL are acceptable forms of notebooking and ALL have significant educational merit.



Notebooking 101: The WHAT and WHY of Notebooking {The Unlikely Homeschool}

Why should you use notebooking?

If notebooking is about writing down learned material and showcasing knowledge, why wouldn't a simple worksheet be just as useful? What makes notebooking a superior and more advantageous educational endeavor?

Notebooking is open-ended

Unlike work-sheet based learning, there are no pre-scripted answers in notebooking. A notebook encourages individuality as it allows a child to detail information in his/her own words. A million children could be given a worksheet to complete and all one million students would produce carbon copy results because a worksheet requires particular answers to particular questions. Those same children could be asked to document their worksheet answers in a notebook, however, and they would all end up with completely unique displays of the material. No two notebook pages would be exactly alike because no two children would possess the same skills...the same interests...the same thought process used to present the information.

Notebooking fosters cognitive thinking

Fill-in-the-blank style pages encourage 2-dimensional thinking. A question is posed and a particular answer must be replicated on the page. But, that is not a true reflection of what a child has learned. It is merely a parroting back of information. Notebooking, on the other hand, affords a child the opportunity to process information, encourages him to determine which pieces of a large clump of knowledge require emphasis and which are ancillary, requires him to organize those pieces in a logical and easy-to-read format, and allows him to articulate that knowledge in his/her own words. The very PROCESS of notebooking is educational...it encourages out-of-the-box, 3-dimensional thinking.

Notebooking spans all ages, stages, and methods of learning

Since notebooks are not limited to just written information, notebooking can be used by even the youngest of learners. Small children can draw pictures of learned material, dictate information for an adult or older child to record, or BOTH. Older children can include lengthier and more formal selections according to their progressing skill levels.

And since there are really no specific guidelines to what constitutes a notebook, notebooking can be used in tandem with any curriculum, for any subject, and alongside any method of education. The traditional textbook learner can use it in place of a worksheet. The unit-study child can use it to compile the information he has collected about one particular topic. The unschooler can use it to journal about completed projects and life experiences. Notebooks are educationally limitless.

Notebooking encourages quality work

A notebook breeds ownership of learning. A child who is given the opportunity to describe his learning in his own way takes pride in the product. A notebook takes hours, weeks, months, and sometimes even years to create. It is something that will be brought out, put on display, and revisited often. Unlike a worksheet which will usually end up in the waste paper basket at the end of the term, a notebook will be preserved and cherished for years to come. Since the entirety of a notebook is created by the child, he naturally develops self-motivation to do superior work.

Notebooking shows progression and improvement

A child who creates a year-long notebook can naturally see his/her improvement in handwriting, spelling, grammar, artistic ability, and much more because the proof has been documented in the pages of an organized notebook. (My children have created nature notebooks that they have been adding to since they were each in kindergarten. It is easy to see how far they've come in their education simply by flipping back a few pages.)

Notebooking provides natural review

Just as a mother enjoys poring over the pages of the family scrapbook, a child who has created a treasured notebook will no doubt want to revisit his work often thus providing built in review. No nagging or flashcards required!

Notebooking is frugal 

The typical homeschool family has more than one child and therefor has to accommodate for more than one learning style. It can be quite expensive to buy multiple learning resources for a wide-variety of learners. Since a simple steno book and a pencil is all that is REALLY required in order to notebook successfully, notebooking is perhaps one of the most inexpensive learning methods there is.  

Notebooking is unifying

Notebooking helps to prevent the everyone-running-in-different-directions chaos that comes with homeschooling more than one child. No matter their learning styles, all the children in the family can notebook. Those children who like to write can craft eloquent compositions about what they've learned, while those who prefer to draw can create detailed sketches and diagrams instead. Everyone can be learning about and chronically the same topic at his/her developmental level providing efficiency and unity to the homeschool day.   

More on notebooking

Over the next few weeks, I will be continuing our discussion on notebooking in homeschool. I hope you'll join me as we consider...


In the meantime, here are some other helpful notebooking resources to get you started.

Notebooking Pages.com
Notebooking/Lapbooking youtube channel
Notebooking Pinterest Board
Notebooking Pages for All Ages
The Notebook Fairy

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