The Art of Notebooking
October 17, 2017
A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to experience one of those exhilarating moments all homeschooling mamas hope to enjoy. I came across something new to add to our homeschool lessons that I instantly realized was going to inspire my children, streamline instruction and deeply enhance the learning going on inside of our home. It is called notebooking and I'd love to share with you the basics of what it is and how we implement it with curriculum like that of The Playful Pioneers.
At its core I see notebooking as a delightful way for a child to retell (or narrate) a story, poem, lesson, or activity and to then take that retelling and put it onto paper. Our favorite way to make a notebook entry for The Playful Pioneers is to begin with a read aloud of the morning's chapter from The Little House on the Prairie series. After my children have listened to the day's selection I ask them to tell me as much as they can remember from what they just heard.
Once they have completed their retelling I have them stop and think for a minute about what the most important idea was from the chapter and then that single idea becomes the basis for our notebook entry for the day. Coming up with one important idea is a way for us to take a long narration and condense it down into one manageable sentence for them to write out. As their writing abilities improve (or for those with older children) they will begin to write out more, or even all, of their narration.
Now here is where I find the use of notebooks to be valuable and why I find it so exciting. Once they have decided on their important idea we work together to make that sentence as detailed and interesting as possible.
For example, we might take a sentence they have come up with like "the wolves sat around the house" and with a little coaching they will turn it into "the large wolves sat howling in a circle around the log cabin." They spend time coming up with the most descriptive language possible and we also quickly discuss the proper use of grammar and spelling in their work. I write the final sentence out for them and they use their best handwriting to copy it down onto a piece of white card stock.
The last steps are to illustrate their sentence with an original sketch, or they may trace the simple graphic provided in The Playful Pioneers copywork sheet for the week. Then, they do a watercolor wash over the final product and it is ready to add to their notebooks once dried.
As I look back over what we have just accomplished I see we have completed an oral and written narration, a grammar and spelling lesson, a handwriting and an art exercise all in one lovely activity.
This is so important for busy homeschooling mamas trying to check off everything on their list for the day and it is an activity we all joyfully accomplish together. Best of all, my children have a compilation of works they are immensely proud of and I have a memory book of priceless treasures to look back on from our year.
We have also used notebooks with our math lessons, our nature studies and we are looking forward to implementing it with our hymn and verse memorization (notebooks can also be the expression of literature based science and history lessons).
The possibilities are truly endless! It's an integral part of a Waldorf homeschool, and a way to create beautiful Charlotte Mason narrations. It can simplify multiple ages homeschooling, and eliminate the need for piles of workbooks.
I hope this sounds like something you and your children would enjoy together and that you will be inspired to give it a try. I'm sure it will be as rewarding for you as it is for us.
Guest post by Erica Haning
Resources For Further Study
Notebooking Manual by Jodi Mockabee
The Living Page by Laurie Bestvater
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