Friday, March 15, 2013

Something New To Us This Year: Notebooking

Last year I did a series of posts on “how we do” most of our school subjects.  (I never did get around to math or French…maybe because math isn’t that exciting since we mostly stick to our curriculum and French I still haven’t really found a groove for? Anyhow…)   A lot of that information still applies.  But there are a few things we are approaching differently this year, and I look forward to sharing some of those things with you.   One of those things is that we’ve added in some notebooking.
Oral narration is still a staple around here – we still orally narrate all of our school readings.   At the end of each “week” (as per the AO schedule) we take some time to add any new historical figures to our timeline book (that’s new too…post forthcoming) and she chooses whatever reading was most interesting to her that week to do a notebook page about.   She has really taken to this!   I only asked her to draw a picture and write a 1 sentence caption, and she ended up writing a whole paragraph!   
A recent notebook page from an installment of Dangerous Journey

We are collecting her notebook pages into her school record binder, so by the end of the year we should have a really lovely record of some of the highlights of our reading for this year.   We are using a very generic template for simplicity (I printed off a supply of two different styles for her to choose from), although if you get really in to notebooking there are TONS of resources (both paid and free) to choose from online.   We may eventually divide out into more subject-specific notebooks, but I didn’t feel that was necessary if we are only producing 1 page each week.
Normally, Charlotte Mason didn’t recommend asking children to produce written narrations (of which notebooking is a form) before the age of about 9 or so.  The thinking behind this is that the child first must feel comfortable with the mechanics of handwriting as well as have developed the ability to narrate orally (organizing and expressing thoughts in one’s head and then verbally) before melding these two skills together.   Michelle, a 7 year old first-ish/second grader, is very comfortable with these two skills separately and often chooses to write on her own (letters, lists, stories)…so I felt it was time to start gently nudging her in this direction.    If your child is not ready to do write on their own (meaning that the physical act of handwriting and/or the process of organizing one's thoughts through oral narration is still laborious for them), but the idea of notebooking intrigues you can always be a scribe for your child and take down an occasional oral narration for your child to illustrate if they so desire.  We did that some last year and I found it very motivating for Michelle when I took down what she said.  And as you can see we are starting very small – 1 page per week on a topic of her choosing.  Eventually we’ll work up to 2 pages per week, and then 3 until eventually she is producing some type of written work daily – probably a mix of topics of her choosing and topics of mine.
So do you use notebooking in your homeschool?  Please share if you do – I’d love to see how you do it!

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