Last week, I shared how we’re using Heritage History to supplement the Mystery of History and how that’s working for us. I also mentioned that we’re adding in some notebooking, but that we’re having to *learn* how to do it. Today I want to share how I’m going about trying to teach my children HOW to notebook.

How We Got Started

Our first real exposure to notebooking came through the Apologia Notebooking Journals (which is really more like a workbook that’s half notebooking and half other pages.) This was a good introduction to notebooking for us. Previously, I’d looked at the pages and pages of free, BLANK, notebooking downloads and I didn’t understand it. The notebooking journal, corresponding to the lessons in the book, and giving us breaks with crossword puzzles or mini-books between the notebooking sections was much less overwhelming.

Even though this is our third year using the journals, notebooking has been somewhat of a struggle for us — initially my oldest daughter was confused by the open freedom and my youngest daughter was too young to do that much writing without getting frustrated. I found some help and wisdom from The Notebooking Fairy and her ebook Notebooking Success, and I began to have Drama Queen narrate to me while I wrote, and I encouraged Princess to make word banks. As we got braver, we began to print blank Notebooking pages from It seemed as though we were starting to “get” it.

“Copywork Notebooking” – My son made this page when he was six after we discovered Hackberry Butterfly caterpillars on a tree outside.

Growing and Changing

This year my son finally reached an age and ability where I felt like he was old enough to handle his own Apologia (Junior) Notebooking Journal – with a little bit of assistance and narrating of course. But my son learns and operates differently than my daughters do (big surprise there!) and trying to get him to notebook finally brought a revelation to my mind — I need to teach them *HOW* to notebook!

I’ve been trying to teach them tips for notebooking, teach them what to put in the boxes, etc, etc, but they need a bigger picture “How to notebook” concept. Kind of like learning “how to study” – you don’t just automatically know how to do it.

Researching a feather we found and using copywork to noteboo - attaching a printed picture and the actual feather to the page.
Researching a feather we found and using copywork to notebook – attaching a printed picture and the actual feather to the page.

So that’s where we are now. I’ve backed up a little, and as we work on our notebooking pages, I’m trying to teach the kids the whole concept.

  • For younger children, you can write what they narrate, or you can write something for them to copy.
  • For all ages, you can discuss what should be included beforehand and create or ask them to create a list or word bank.
  • What was the main theme of the book/chapter/etc.
  • What are the main points contained there?
  • What are a few interesting facts that we should include here?
  • What new vocabulary words did we discover?
  • How do we want to include that information here? A summary paragraph, bullet points, an acrostic?
  • What pictures/illustrations should we include to bring this page alive?
  • How else can we decorate, color, illustrate, personalize this notebooking page to make it our own?

The biggest change that I’ve made while teaching them to notebook is helping them more. I used to feel like I was “giving them the answers” so to speak, but I’ve come to realize that helping them more, especially the younger two, is okay! The notebooking page isn’t a test! It’s only a review of the material and what they learned. If they give me what they remember, and then I add more that they *should* have remembered, (that they might remember now because of that,) what’s the harm in that?

After discussing main points, I wrote what my 7 year old narrated, and he drew the illustrations.
After discussing main points, I wrote what my 7 year old narrated, and he drew the illustrations.

Why Do It?

You may be wondering why I keep up with it at all, if we’re not “getting” it the way I’d like? I think it’s worth it. I see value in the practice, especially for subjects that don’t have many worksheets and tests. There needs to be a way to “output” all of the information we’re “inputting” to complete the learning process. Notebooking also practices good handwriting, writing, spelling and grammar skills. There are tons of benefits to notebooking!

More posts about our Notebooking experience:

Photo background source: Notepad by Anna Langova, Public Domain

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Hey, y’all! I’m Amber and I wear many hats. I drink a ton of coffee and I’m constantly sweeping crumbs off the floor. After 18 years of homeschooling, I’m getting close to graduating my third child and now we are starting over at preschool with our fourth, Lil Miss Mouse. She keeps us young and she’s the main reason for my excessive coffee consumption. Drink up!