For the record, I am a notebooking, journaling, scrapbooking person. I love notebooks. I have a notebook of all my computer work. I have a notebook for all my medical transcription knowledge gleaned through the years. I have my new (much loved, I might add) Charlotte Mason notebook. I have my home notebook. I have a notebook of mosaic birdbath ideas. You get the picture.
Obviously, for school, I love the idea of keeping a notebook.
“Well doesn’t everyone use a notebook for school,” you might ask?
Maybe not in the way that notebookers use notebooks.
A lot of people use notebooks to hold their loose leaf paper, taking out sheets to work on. They use it for storage of things they will consume. Many students have composition books – one for each subject – that can end up worn and tattered by the end of the year.
The way notebookers use notebooks is to create a beautiful specimen of work done through the school year. A notebook is to hold the finished work. It’s almost like journaling or scrapbooking. There are even websites that offer notebooking pages for students to fill with copywork or creative writing, among other things. There are tons of things that can go into notebooks.
You can have one big notebook, or many notebooks. You can have a nature notebook, bible notebook, science notebook, history notebook, unit study notebook, and the list goes on.
That said, there are many ways to “journal” or “scrapbook” or “notebook” a year’s worth of work. This past year, for the first time, I used a spiral bound notebook and put the best of the best into it, scrapbook style.
While I love the way it turned out overall, in that it’s full, and full of memories, I’m not totally crazy over the fact that it won’t lay flat. Ours ended up bulky, but then again I did use one notebook for everything (except for math which is in its own little 3-prong folder – but I did include her end-of-year math test in the notebook for completeness).
Michaela’s 5th Grade Notebook
The first page, of course, has pictures of the girl, her age and her grade.
Throughout the year, I glued in her best work each week, along with pictures to go along.
There are pages from fieldtrips. I love that you can glue in envelopes and make little pockets to store things in, like the Cleopatra bookmark from the museum.
We even glued in funny artwork that she did to show her spontaneously creative side.
But it’s not just Sponge Bob! Large worksheets can be folded in half and glued in so that you can open them up for viewing.
We taped in postcards so that they can be flipped out to read the backs.
Illustrations from a story for her blog. In fact much of her art work is in here, put in with adhesive “corners,” so no glue was used on them.
When we studied Grass Sandals, she made a matching game, but you know we’ll likely not play this again, so I tossed half the cards and put one half in here.
Nature study pages.
Pictures from our new bunny adventures.
We glued in many fieldtrip pictures and souvenirs. Again, I love how you can glue in storage envelopes for postcards and such.
As you can see, this notebook ended up being a portfolio of her work, representative of every subject, covering the whole year, but also a scrapbook, full of memories and pictures and fun!
What I like about the spiral notebook:
- cover is attractive
- it’s more like a scrapbook. You can write little notes directly into it and glue things in as well
- the finished product is pretty (even if mine won’t lay flat)
- they are inexpensive and vary in size, so you can choose what kind you want for what subject.
What I do NOT like about the spiral notebook:
- the finished product may not lay flat if you put in anything other than regular paper
- pages can rip out and there’s no way to reinforce them and put them back in
- because it did require the kind of attention you’d give a scrapbook, it turned into more of something I kept up with versus something Michaela was responsible for. She did the work – I kept the scrapbook.
- requires glue or some type of adhesive
What I like about having ONE notebook for everything
- Work of all subjects can be placed in chronological order, so looking through it is literally like a trip down memory lane
- It forces a weeding out of mediocre stuff so you end up with a really striking portfolio
What I do NOT like about having just one notebook
- Obviously, you have to flip through to find specific things; things are not separated into any order
- You don’t end up with one powerful resource in any one subject area, say history or nature, for example. Imagine building on one nature notebook for 12 years!
One thing that I am really proud of is that this notebook was basically done at the end of the year. Other than waiting on a couple of end-of-year pictures, I kept up with this week by week, making school record-keeping a whole lot easier! You may remember my post on my organization station. I suggest having a system in place for weekly checks and touch-ups, having supplies organized where teacher and student (age appropriate) can get to them.
This coming year, we’ll be doing Ambleside Online with Beyond Five In A Row for her biograpy reading, as well as a co-op of some Volume 4 titles, so a lot of reading and then narration in written and oral form and many projects and “handicrafts.” We’ll be doing foreign language, nature study, art and music appreciation, and if it goes as I hope it will, we’ll stick with Ambleside for the duration. In that case, I don’t know that I want only one notebook for each year.
At graduation, I know there are areas where I would like for Michaela to have resources that she’ll enjoy for her whole life. An art appreciation notebook would be nice. A nature notebook would be awesome. A history notebook would also be awesome.
Here are some notebooking resources that I think are nice:
Math Notebooking - who knew math could make such beautiful notebooks?
Jimmie, the author of the above math notebooking, also has a notebooking exhibit page.
Cindy Rushton, who is known as the Binder Queen, has a nice article - Let’s Try Notebooking, on trying notebooking and letting the children do the work.
My friend Sheri at The Shades of Pink has a section on her blog about her notebooking. Her “crew” has produced some beautiful notebooks.
Another friend, Heather (Blog, She Wrote) has wonderful ideas for notebooking.
Friend Kayla shows how she has one 3-ring notebook for FIAR broken into sections by books rowed.
More to come as I plan how we’ll store our work this next year!