From the moment I opened the pages of Pocketful of Pinecones, I was enthralled with the idea of notebooking.
The story is beautiful and inspiring, and I wanted so badly to be “that mom”, but I was a notebooking flunky. Although I tried and tried and tried, I never could implement notebooking into our homeschool successfully. I ended up with a shelf full of half-hearted attempts, always left behind because they never turned out as lovely as I envisioned.
While in Omaha at the Teach Them Diligently Convention, I ran into Caroline from The Modest Mom and listened as she gushed over the sessions led by Jeannie Fulbright. I had never heard Jeannie speak, so I decided I’d try to get to one of her session. However, the only one left was on notebooking.
But hey, I’m a notebooking flunky. Surely I could stand to listen and learn. Maybe, just maybe, I’d hear something that would unlock the mystery of successful notebooking for me.
That day, in that huge auditorium, I heard the one thing I needed to hear.
Notebooking doesn’t have to be perfect.
Jeannie said to have the children write what was important, not necessarily what I think should be on the page. My notebooking attempts had been more about me than the children. I wanted them to look the way I thought they were “supposed” to look. It was frustrating to me and my children!
At the conference, Jeannie had the audience try a notebooking exercise. She read from one of her science books (Apologia Elementary Science – which I HIGHLY recommend!), and then we wrote down everything that stuck out to us from the reading. Do you know, 2 months later I can still list many of the facts I learned about Orcas that day?!
I was sold!
But, wait a second…
I have a large family.
Is notebooking even possible for a large family?
Yes, it is! BUT, you have to do things a bit differently, and you have to let go of certain expectations.
First off, time. I’m not going to lie to you, notebooking takes time. Jeannie spoke on how the modern American education is an inch thick and a mile wide. Children don’t dig deep into a subject because we don’t slow down long enough to allow for that. Homeschooling, by its very nature, allows us the opportunity to slow down and dig deep. Notebooking is one amazing tool that can help us teach our children to dig deep, and give our children an education that is more than a blur of facts and figures.
Once I gave myself permission to take the time to notebook, I needed to address another real issue with notebooking as a large family…
How to manage all those notebooks!
I had visions of one huge bookshelf bursting full of notebooks for each subject and each child. Totally not feasible! So, I sat down and brainstormed.
I started by creating a list of every subject we did that I thought would lend itself to notebooking. My list looked like this:
Five in a Row
Then, I considered which subjects could be combined because of overlap. Since we do Tapestry of Grace, I felt I could combine History and Literature since most of our literature conicides with our history lessons. We also always do missions right after Bible time, so I put those together. Additionally, I decided my oldest two children would not notebook for their science, so I would only be notebooking Science with my younger crew.
Then, I decided which subjects could have all the children in one notebook to save space. I ended up putting all the Five in a Row stuff in one notebook (if you sign up for emails from them, you get FREE pages that work really well with notebooking!), and all the Bible/Missions stuff in one notebook, and all the little kid science in one notebook. So, that breaks down like this:
Bible/Missions – 1 notebook
History/Literature – 2 notebooks
Five in a Row – 1 notebook
Science -1 notebook
5 notebooks = TOTALLY DOABLE!
The final question I had as a large family homeschooling mom was where to find notebooking pages that would not create more work for me.
My answer came from another large family homeschooling mom and her site:
I have gotten freebies from her site, but I decided to get the LIFETIME MEMBERSHIP and have access to thousands of pages! PLUS…when you buy the Lifetime Membership, you get to use The Notebook Publisher that allows you to create your own pages! I’ve used this to make pages for our studies on C.S. Lewis & William Bradford (I used photos from the internet and the lined pages provided in the publisher). Having these resources at my fingertips has been wonderful!
I’m planning to write more about our notebooking adventures throughout the year, but I’d love to hear more from those of you who have used notebooking in your homeschool!