Monday, March 22, 2010

Toss It or Treasure It?

Recieved this from  Another good point about journaling/notebooking!

As the end of the school year draws near, are you swimming through mounds of worksheets, quizzes, tests, and half-finished workbooks wondering what to do with it all? What to keep? Where to keep it? How much to, dare I say, throw away? As you tackle this heap, recall the many hours that went into creating this heaping collection. Remember the great ambitions with which you started the school year (and perhaps the good intentions that fell to the wayside in order to “finish” this massive pile of paperwork). Finally, ask yourself -- if most, if not all, of your children’s work is going to get tucked away somewhere never to be seen again, how much value does it hold . . . to me? . . . to my children?

Notebooking our studies keeps us from creating these questionable mounds of paper each year. There is nothing left to sort. There is nothing left to pack away. There is nothing to throw away! Instead, another volume (or two or three or more) of our children’s prized work gets added to their personal library at the end of each year. No more busywork to throw away! No more second-guessing if our time has been well spent. Notebooking has literally transformed the way I approach my children’s education and has set afire a love of learning within each of them. Spend your precious hours exploring, discovering, and capturing the knowledge that awaits you and your children each day. Make learning a journey instead of a list to be checked off at the end of the day and a pile to be sorted at the end of the year. How do you do this?

Start simple. Grab the essential supplies: binders, paper, arts and crafts supplies, and a selection of writing utensils. You may also want to invest in some notebooking pages. Notebooking pages have been designed with a variety of preprinted lines, frames, borders, and clipart providing a quick start alternative to the notebooking process.

Start with one topic/subject for each child or for the whole family. Our favorite notebooks to do as a family are history and nature study. Ask your children to give a narration of what they learned during their study time. What did they find to be most important or interesting? An easy way to get started is to ask the 5Ws & 1H. If you have younger children, write their narrations down for them until they are more proficient with the physical skill of writing. For children who are accustomed to short fill-in-the-blank type questions, narration will take some practice to develop. However, narration is an invaluable skill that will lead to success in their future writings and investigations. It cements the material to their memory.

As your children continue to dig deeper, add new material to the notebook one page after another filling it up with information from their topic(s):

narrations from material studied or experienced


photos and information from field trips


timeline of events

their drawings/sketches

collections of tangible items such as leaves, pressed flowers, and seeds

photos of hands-on activities or experiments

copywork selections

anything and everything they want to add to their notebooks

As your children dig deeper, the richness of their learning becomes evident as their notebooks fill to the brim with stories, pictures, and lessons learned from people, places, and events encountered. It’s a joy to sit down with them as they confidently share all they have learned through their notebooks.

Each year, as the volumes of notebooks increases upon your shelves, you’ll see that notebooking captures a “living” record of their learning journey. Instead of tossing the year’s work in a taped up box, you’ll find ways to add more bookshelves to house these treasures!

Debra Wooley

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