You know I love anything that gets kids writing – and loving writing! Our son has been journaling to learn – recording his love of dinosaurs with pages from the Lifetime Membership available from NotebookingPages.com. (Oh, and our little guy is joining in too – I’ll tell you how!). Here’s my review of this homeschool notebooking resource.
What is Notebooking?
I’m rather new to the concept of notebooking, since my son just learned to read this year. Notebooking is a tool to capture and record what a child has learned and help students retain learning. Notebooking surpasses generic “note-taking” by leaps and bounds because it’s creative, highly visual, and student-led. It really is more like journaling.
Use notebooking after read-alouds, or after independent reading. After a science experiment. After a movie. After a nature walk or field trip. Notebooking is based on the child’s experience and learning, not a fill-in-the-blank, one-right-answer approach. I could go on about the ways notebooking benefits students and educators alike, but let me move on to the product that supports and enhances notebooking!
That is: NotebookingPages.com – an amazing online notebooking resource for homeschool families and educators. The scope of their product is comprehensive.
How NotebookingPages.com supports learning
NotebookingPages.com was created by Debra Reed, a mom who wanted to have a fun and flexible learning environment for her kids. One that fostered independence and a love for learning. One that encouraged self-direction and enjoyment. Wow, sounds a lot like what every homeschool mom I know wants, right?
So Debra started notebooking with her children, and found victory over busywork and boredom! (Read her story linked right there!). She began creating decorative pages for her children to use as they notebooked to make the learning exciting and interactive. Decorative borders and illustrations to color. Boxes for captions and illustrations. Exciting fonts for headlines and titles.
Here’s some sample pages to show color and black & white options:
It’s a huge range of resources! A variety of pages reflects the variety of writing students do: Title pages, table of contents, paragraphs, captioning, maps, charts, lists. Each topic has multiple versions of similar pages for younger / older students, with more / less text or image area.
Thankfully, Debra Reed makes all these pre-created pages available to homeschoolers, because I do not have the time to do this kind of document creation!
Here’s a brief run-down of the resources you’ll find at NotebookingPages.com
- A-Z – several selections of A-Z style notebooking pages on various topics. Perfect for Pre-K-2nd grade.
- Bible Characters – Awesome collection of people from the Bible. Also a Quiet Time selection.
- Famous People – Where do I begin? American Presidents, African Americans, World Explorers, Artists, Composers, Church History – they each have their own sections!
- Fine Arts – From composers to artists to musical designs. Perfect for adding to any program.
- Geography – More than maps! Study by country, learn about memorials, monuments, parks, timelines and more. Color printouts too!
- History – Timelines and topics for each era include files for just about every historical figure, event, document, you can imagine! I honestly am in awe of the coverage provided by these pages!
- Holidays – Organized by month, then by holiday. Fabulous!
- Language Arts – Alphabet, Copywork on a multitude of topics, and even Latin and Greek pages!
- Science / Nature – A-Z pages, Anatomy, Astronomy, Animals, Experiments, Nature, and Plants. So extensive! My Chem teacher husband was especially interested in the experiment pages as potential “exit slips” for learners!
This list is a fraction of what’s contained in the Lifetime Membership to NotebookingPages.com. They offer FREE resources so you can check out their materials (the free selection is widely spread over a variety of topics, and includes a lot of basic pages that get you started out).
Oh, and wow, I haven’t even told you about their 3D pages – so clever and something we’ll be downloading next year! Basically you add these mini book pages to regular notebooking sheets to create “pop-outs” that give notebooking dimension and style!
Also – and I can’t go into detail because I didn’t have the kids use it – the Lifetime Membership comes with a 1-year subscription to the Web App Publisher. Students write and create pages online, selecting borders, images, and template, then they can print out their notebooking! So amazing for everything from digital literacy, special needs, and more!
How we use NotebookingPages.com
My plan initially for NotebookingPages.com was to use it for light-hearted summer learning. We always read books and color and draw, so why not combine them all. I started by having the boys choose their favorite topics to study. That was easy: Dinosaurs and Penguins!
I showed them the NotebookingPages.com files and they selected a few of their favorite pages. I printed out a variety of extras. We got library books and begin reading. After every reading session, the boys worked on their pages. At first, my son was only going to write about T-Rex. Then he added Stegosaurus. Now, he can’t decide which dinosaur he loves, and I told him not to worry, because we can make a whole book out of his dinosaur facts! His face just lit up when I told him that we can keep adding pages to his notebook!
The beautiful thing is, I don’t talk about “let’s do writing” or “time for writing.” I just say, “Let’s add to your dinosaur book!” Or, “Wouldn’t that be great to add to your dinosaur book?” He’s so enthused about building his book, he doesn’t mind writing at all. On busy days, he drew or colored a picture, or created an author page. Other days, we did more intensive work writing out a sentence fact.
Even though he’s still a beginning writer and it’s hard for him to spell and write full sentences, the passion of writing about his favorite topic makes the writing feel playful! He knows what he’s writing down and recording is important, because he selected the information from his own memory! He gets to show his learning in a way that is relevant to him. For instance, in the photo above, he was so proud that he was able to show how a Stegosaurus was bigger than a car with a picture he drew!
This is truly the beauty of notebooking: writing and creating stems directly from the student’s passions and knowledge.
NotebookingPages.com is for all ages and levels
The pages can be adapted for ANY level of learner. My nearly four-year-old loves penguins. So while my son worked on his dinosaur book, I printed about a half dozen pages from the Birds and Penguin files. He happily colored the pengiuns and maps. And we extended his learning with activities like:
- Using fact collection sheets to ask questions about penguins. We had to modify the questions slightly. We asked what kinds of penguins he knew about, how tall an emperor penguin is, what they like to eat, etc. We’d write down the replies on the page. It’s fun for him to share his knowledge, and it’s going to be a real treasure for us to look back on his early penguin-knowledge.
- Create labels for him to glue onto images. He labeled various parts of a penguin. The cutting and gluing was great motor skill work.
- Having him dictate a story about penguins. Super cute! He acted it out in the living room while he told us about the march-march-marching penguins.
- Connect to literature by having him draw a picture of Mr. Popper’s Penguins, which we are reading for our bedtime story right now.
My little writer-heart is going pitter-patter to think that at such an early age, he’s practicing the art of writing, but he doesn’t even know it! When he’s older, using notebooking and NotebookingPages.com is going to be such a natural method of learning for him!
If you’re ready to ditch the rote and mind-numbing worksheets, and let kids show their brilliance through notebooking, I recommend you get the Lifetime Membership from NotebookingPages.com.
To find out what other homeschool parents are saying about NotebookingPages.com, click here!