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 monthly newsletter. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

Notebooking with Fact Fans

blank fact fan

Notebooking (verb): the act of organizing ideas or facts in written or pictorial form usually within a notebook or journal.

For the homeschooler, this definition goes one step further...Notebooking is a tool to reinforce, review, and organize learned material. It is visual proof of what has been learned and what hasn't. Unlike institutionalized tests, notebooking actually requires cognitive skill, independent reasoning, and creative initiative...not just the ability to memorize trivial facts. You not only have to know those facts, but you also have to be able to reconstruct them in your own words.

I'll admit, upon my first introduction to the very idea of notebooking, I balked at the thought of forcing my very kinesthetic/artistic boy to sit for extended periods of writing. My writer-girl would love it...I knew. But after exploring the core goals of notebooking, I realized that notebooking didn't have to be lengthy compositions...it could be whatever we wanted it to be.

Notebooking with Fact Fans-The Unlikely Homeschool

So, for the past few years, in addition to the short bursts of notebooking we have done while making lapbooks, we have also completed a handful of simple notebooks. Our current favorite?? Fact fans!

Notebooking with Fact Fans-The Unlikely Homeschool

To make a fact fan

A fact fan is typically made from sturdy card stock...although we've made them out of fun, funky paper at times too!

  1. Cut a sheet of card stock into strips that are the exact same width.
  2. Determine how long you want the cover page to be and cut one of your strips to that length.
  3. Cut all other strips so that they are each 1/2 inch to 3/4 of an inch longer than the last.  
  4. Fasten the strips together with a metal brad so that they can "fan" out.
We have made both horizontal and vertical fact fans...depending upon the subject matter that we are notebooking.

Notebooking with Fact Fans-The Unlikely Homeschool

How you organize your fact fan is up to you.

Recently, while doing a unit on animal migration, Sweetie Pea (4th) and Super Boy (1st), each made a fact fan. After brainstorming how they should each organize their thoughts within these little notebooks, they decided to use a scientific approach. They assigned questions to each fan page and used that page to report upon the answers as they learned them during our unit.

Obviously, the answers were not learned in the order that the questions were originally written. After our daily reading, they each determined which question (or questions) were best answered that day. They found that particular page, jotted down a few simple sentences, and drew a picture.

Notebooking with Fact Fans-The Unlikely Homeschool

Why do I like fact fans?

The short answer?? because THEY ARE SHORT. Fact fans...or other simple notebooking methods...are very quick, easy tools to detail ONLY the most important facts. For a child who gets quite overwhelmed by a blank page with endless empty lines to fill, these little fans provide a clear finish line...When the small card is filled, YOU ARE DONE. There will be more space and time to add the "rest of the story" tomorrow.

In addition, all my kids looooove to do special school "projects." In truth, a fact fan is really just an oddly shaped notebook. But that ODD shape somehow adds just enough jazz to make them seem like a project. (Even though I am fully aware that they aren't....but that's just between you and me! Mum's the word.)

Although...as you can see...it makes for some "questionable" handwriting, a blank, un-lined page affords the non-writer plenty of space to include an illustration. And let's face it, a picture can really be worth 1,000 words. I can look at my son's illustrations and know without a shadow of a doubt that he gets it!

Notebooking with Fact Fans-The Unlikely Homeschool

My writer-girl, on the other hand always chooses simple line drawings with barely any color...she saves her "color" for her words. Notebooking, in any form, offers her a chance to take all the thoughts swirling around in her head, set them in black and white, and revisit them whenever she likes...sort of like blogging...but, I digress!

Notebooking with Fact Fans-The Unlikely Homeschool

What can you detail with a fact fan?

Although I concede that you can notebook ANY subject, we prefer to save our notebooking endeavors for content-rich subjects like history, science, and Bible.

We've used fact fans for MANY different topics. My personal favorite was during an extended study of the solar system. My daughter made a card for each planet and used the space to list all the major facts of each planet and to draw a picture of every one. She actually used color...in the pictures!


  1. Another brilliant idea that I can totally see us using! Thanks again, Jamie!