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Discover how your students can use notebooking with living books to learn in a variety of subjects. Notebooking + Living Books = The Perfect Learning Combination!

[The following post contains affiliate links. You can read my disclosure here.]

Notebooking + Living Books = The Perfect Learning Combination

Why notebooking? When students use notebooking along with real books, they…

  • Draw and write about what they are learning. And the more things they do with the informations, the better they will learn it!
  • Review what they are learning in a natural way. When they share their notebooks with others, they are taking about (reviewing) the material they have learned. It’s a natural way to work in narration: “Why don’t you show Dad the notebook pages you did today and tell him about what you are learning?” (Ninja homeschooling!!!)
  • Rewrite information in their own words. Developing the skills of summarizing and paraphrasing is an important skill, and when students notebook they develop those skills in a natural way. And when students rewrite information in their own words, you can access whether they really understand that information.
  • Have a record of what they are learning. Whether you need it to meet a state requirement, or you and your children enjoy looking back at what they have learned, notebooking provides a way to quantify a living books education.

Notebooking is easy, affordable, and an enjoyable way to interact with what kids are learning through their books. All you need are some notebooking pages, pen or pencil, a binder, and, of course, BOOKS!  For more fun and learning potential, add in some colored pens and map pencils.

Our Favorite Resources for Notebooking with Living Books

For the binder, I recommend not getting one that is too big for day-to-day work. We usually used a 1.5 to 2 inch one for each six weeks of school, and then had a larger binder that it could be transferred to in order to keep the whole year in one. A binder with a clear front let’s kids make and display a creative cover.

Have fun with writing tools! And try to invest in good quality so kids enjoy using them. (WARNING: If you purchase FriXion pens, be sure not to leave the binder in a hot car! The ink is erased using friction…which generates heat. I’m sure you get the idea! If that ever happens though, turn it into a science lesson and pretend it was all a part of the plan 😉)

5 Ways to Use Notebooking with Living Books

I’ve designed a set of notebooking pages perfect for use with living books. You’ll get sixteen different designs that can be used for multiple subjects in a variety of ways. Here are a few ideas of ways to use them:

1. Copywork and Dictation

Find a great passage in the book you are reading. Love how the book begins? Opening passages often make great copywork and dictation passages so students learn how to hook a reader. Notice a great use of literary language? Talk about what it is and why it works so well, then have your students copy it or write it from dictation. If you want to learn more bout how to do copywork and dictation check out these posts:

Teacher tip: Your kids can even draw picture to go along with their copywork or dictation. If they copy a great description, have them try to draw whatever was described based on the description.

What You Need to Know About How to Teach Language Arts

2. Nature Journaling

I love these books about keeping a nature journal 💛 (Sometimes I feel like Julie Andrews singing, “these are a few of my favorite things…”)

But you don’t have to have a separate journal unless you want to. You can put some notebooking pages on a clipboard, grab a bag of colored pencils, and go. These books are excellent guides and provide a lot of interesting facts to go along with your outdoor observations.

My favorite part about the North American Wildlife Guide is that it is a complete, illustrated spotters guide. Kids can use it indoors to draw animals or plants as well as using it on nature hikes to identify them. In my opinion it’s easier to draw from a drawing!

3. Biographical or Fictional Character Sketches

If your students are reading a biography, have them use a notebook page to share the facts about that person that are the most interesting to them. Let them draw or print a picture of the person to add to the page. Ask them a favorite quote by the person to include. And the same thing can be done for fictional characters!

Ask them things like:

  • What do you think this character looks like? (Then have them draw a portrait.)
  • How would you describe their character? Were they hard-working or lazy? Did they give up easily or persevere through hardships? What character traits did you notice? Did the person change through the book (were they a dynamic character)?
  • What is a way you are like him or her? What is a way you would like to be?

They can also include facts about when and where they lived, etc., but be sure that they spend most of their time notebooking about the things that grab their attention.

Here are some samples from three great biography series!

4. Collecting Favorite Quotes From Living Books

One of the most valuable things your kids can do is to record some of their favorite quotes from those they encounter in books. Whether the characters are fictional or real-life people, their words can inspire us. These words stick with us and can help shape who we are.

Consider these quotes from The Hiding Place:

  • “This is what the past is for! Every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our lives is the perfect preparation for the future that only He can see.”
  • “Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength- carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”
  • “You can never learn that Christ is all you need, until Christ is all you have.”

Teacher tip: Quotes like these are also the perfect starting point for a great conversation with your kids or inspiration for journaling.

5. Personal Dictionaries

When kids focus on studying the words they encounter within the context of what they read, then they have a reason to learn them. They’ll see how the word is used and will make connections about what it means as related to the subject they are studying. With personalized vocabulary lists, they don’t waste time on studying words they already know, but instead focus on the ones they don’t.

Teacher tip: After writing the definition of the word, have them a draw a picture relating to it under the definition. For some children, drawing will help them remember it better!

Get your notebooking pages to start using with living books in your homeschool today!

Notebooking Pages for Living Books