Notebooking Learning Journals

A primary way that we like to represent our learning is by keeping notebooking learning journals. The name is still up for debate but that's probably the best way to describe them. They're not just nature journals (though we journal nature in them), they're not primarily writing journals (though I want to start including more of their writing in them) they're kind of like a smash book of visuals and notes about what we've studied.

Over the years I have tried to have separate journals for things. A written journal, a nature journal, an art journal and it didn't work well and it was a lot of books to keep track of. Now we just use one decent quality blank page, thick paper journal and we do it all in there.

We use the Basic Large Spiral Kraft Notebook

We have an artistic bent to much of our learning because one of my life motto's is "It might as well be pretty."

I believe that life is aesthetically beautiful. Science and art should always go together in my opinion. The detailed design of the littlest to the biggest forms of life are fascinating and stunning. Maps are gorgeous, every culture has their own unique folk art, words inspire images, etc. There is so much value in visual representation.

I know many would possibly dismiss the idea because they don't feel they are artistic, I get it. I believed my entire education that I wasn't artistic. I've since decided though that I'm going to draw, paint, doodle and make music even if I suck at it lol. I have one child who is extremely visual (like to the point of doodling while writing mid sentence) and one child who used to break down at the mere mention of a craft or having to draw.

Even with both of those extremes we just do "art" every day and now my art hater picks up his clipboard daily to draw on his own.

Here is our simple way of notebooking:

1. Anything goes

We don't overthink what goes in the journal. We don't have to stick with a theme for a few pages. We might have a falcon drawn from when were we reading the My Side of the Mountain series (that still needs our falcon facts added) and on the next page have a list of mythical gods in their greek and roman form.

2. It's Multi Media

We combine fundamentally words and images but we do that in a variety of ways. Sometimes we draw, sometimes we watercolour paint, sometimes we print images and cut and paste. Sometimes we use printed photos or magazine clippings.

This was in response to experimenting with natural pH indicators. We recorded the colour of every mixture we created in the kitchen.

(Above: We tried to capture the colours from our experiments working with natural pH indicators).

3. Modeling

I have my own journal and I always do the notebooking with my kids. I model my thought process and demonstrate how I organize my page.

Hot Tip: Keeping your own journal will also help you not micromanage your child's journal.

Doodle maps of ancient Egypt

(Doodle maps of Ancient Egypt)

When I first started homeschooling the battle with loose papers often felt like a loosing one. Doing these journals has helped a lot in that it keeps some of our work in a central location. We still have a lot that are loose and get filed, etc but these cut it down a lot.

It's also really wonderful to each have this book each year that is a visual of our year. It's quite a lot like a scrapbook in many ways. During this time of home learning for many kids keeping a notebooking journal could be a really cool memento of this unique time in history.

(Below: Abstract lung diagrams from our human body systems.)

Our abstract lungs from our human body systems studies.