25 creative notebooking ideas

Notebooking is one of the best ways to demonstrate your individuality in your lessons. But sticking some worksheets in a binder is not true notebooking. You must generate the material yourself and it is a reflection of you, not simply a regurgitation of someone else’s thoughts.

In case you find yourself in a rut, here is a list of creative expression. You can also download the 25 creative notebooking ideas here.

  • paper folding
  • portraits
  • write a story and illustrate it
  • collage
  • mosaic with construction paper or magazine pictures
  • drawings
  • cut outs
  • silhouettes
  • rubber stamping
  • stickers to add to a picture or draw around
  • photographs
  • coloring pages
  • printable fonts that can be colored
  • pockets to put things in
  • door or flaps to hide things
  • pop-ups
  • paintings
  • rubbings or impressions
  • CD recordings of kid’s voice, documents, music, video, etc.
  • fold out pages for long projects
  • sew paper
  • create an award
  • cut words and letters from newspapers or magazines
  • create a small book and place in a pocket on a page
  • paper weaving

If you want to add to the list with something that you have tried, please leave a comment so I can add it to this list.

The rewards of notebooks

Notebooks are not a new idea. Many of the founding fathers kept notebooks of their lessons and discoveries. What is so special about notebooks, as opposed to, say, workbooks? I say a lot.

Productivity. A notebook is not simply a container of a child’s work. It is a tool for learning and self-government. It requires the child to be a producer of education and not a consumer of information. The child is an active part of the learning process.

Developing character. Notebooks are also a tool for character development and an excellent education. These traits include stewardship, diligence, patience, perseverance, faithfulness and satisfaction.

Self-education. The child must learn how to learn, and a notebook will do that. These notebooks are filled with their own thoughts and reasoning. I encourage my children to take ownership of their ideas. When they are comforatable with that concept it will be easy for them to take on more of their own education

Scholarship. The child must write and produce their own work, as opposed to consuming a workbook. They are required to write down their own thoughts and ideas and to do it well. Neatness counts! Standards are a good thing. Children like to know what is expected of them, and notebook standards give them a goal and parameters, which also foster scholarship.

Reasoning. It requires thinking, and sometimes a lot of it, to produce and to learn. I know my kids sometimes act like their brain froze up when they are required to use their “reasoning muscles.” But I also have noticed that my 4th grader has come a long way and doesn’t shut down like she used to. She wrestles hard sometimes to reason out an answer. That is encouraging and wouldn’t happen if I were not using a notebook.

Reference. Hopefully your notebook will be filled with things, especially as they get into the upper grades, that will help them in other subjects and other areas of interest. I know one young lady who came home for a break from college and went to find her French notebook. She said it was to help her in her college class because some of the material was already there, giving her an edge. Another young lady I know has made notebooking such a lifestyle that even though she is out of high school she still makes notebooks for her interests. When she went on a missions trip she created a notebook her whole team could use as a reference, with maps, history and more on the country they were visiting.

Mastery. We are not slaves to the notebook, but masters. It is our tool to use as best fits us. It will help strengthen our weaknesses and highlight our strengths. And also a notebook helps us to master a particular subject.

Individuality. Of course notebooks are an expression of our unique thoughts and are our own intellectual property. My children love to peruse their notebooks from time to time and appreciate all the hard work they have done. They enjoy reflecting on projects and lessons they enjoyed, and also to remind me of things they weren’t crazy about. Some families keep electronic notebooks, some keep more like a scrapbook. There are lots of ways to express your individuality and education. Notebooks don’t simply have to be filled with written papers. You can include CD’s of audio, DVD’s of movies you make, printouts, foldouts and pockets, photos, art of all kinds, the list is really endless. Celebrate your family’e education, don’t just endure it.

Step 2: defining BPA, Biblical principles 4 Ring

Step 2 of the 12 steps in Mr. Rose’s book involves reading a short overview of the seven principles of America’s Christian history and government and what it means to 4-R. I will go into the seven principles in much more detail as the  study goes on, so I will only list them in this post.

Biblical Principle Approach refers to:

The rediscovery and reinstatement of principles on which the character of our country was built.

Christian method of reasoning from the Bible. The same principles that make you a better citizen in America also make you a better citizen in God’s kingdom as well. We are to think governmentally (you hear this phrase A LOT in BPA circles), which means to think “who or what is controlling, restraining, directing or regulating?” This will determine our worldview and our philosophy of education.

The more internal restraint you have, the less external restraint you need. This speaks a lot of how little we are internally governed as a society. There are ridiculous laws and ordinances of all kinds to govern those among us who cannot control themselves. Our humanity loves rules and the more the better. The more God’s laws are written on our hearts (love Him, love your neighbor as yourself), the less of man’s laws we will need. His Word will have pre-eminence in every sphere of life.

I tell my kids from time to time, “The world would not be such a bad place if grown-ups could keep their hands to themselves.” Isn’t that true? We would not steal, sleep around or kill. But the hands are not really the problem, are they? It’s the heart that’s the matter, especially when the grown-ups were just children and no one taught them to be internally controlled.

The 7 Principles of American Christian History and Government

  1. God’s Principle of Individuality
  2. The Christian Principle of Self- Government
  3. America’s Heritage of Christian Character
  4. Conscience is the Most Sacred of all Property
  5. Our Christian Form of Government
  6. How the Seed of Local Self-Government is Planted
  7. The Christian Principle of American Political Union

These 7 principles apply to all spheres of life and to all peoples around the world. When I spend a week on each principle I will explain that in more detail.


“The four R’s” is a simple yet profound way of learning that we all do, we just have never thought much about. It is a historical method in which the four steps are exercised simultaneously. (You can search my archives for more 4-R information.)

1. Research God’s Word to identify basic principles by searching scripture for vocabulary. Get out your Webster’s 1828 dictionary and look up words to define from the subject you are studying. Then look up those word in your concordance.

2. Reason from Biblical truths and identify them to the student through each subject, concluding from Scripture the Biblical significance and governmental importance of the subject. It builds upon truth researched.

3. Relate to each student through the subject, applying it to character, conscience and stewardship. The subject is the vehicle to learn more about God, not just a bunch of facts to memorize. This creates lessons that are truly alive for teacher and student, because they come from God’s Word.

4. Record what you feel you need to save by both teacher and student. Each should have their own record, whatever form that takes. Some like to keep an electronic notebook, some more like a scrapbook, others a type of journal and still others a traditional notebook.

We should take care what materials we use, Mr. Rose advises. Materials that teach external as the focus will present confusion.

The child and the subject are extensions of Jesus, the Author and Governor. We connect them together and we develop a student who can reason biblically and take dominion over all subjects.

Rooted in love

Last week in botany we talked about roots. We discussed two reasons for roots–nutrition and support. To see what God has to say about roots, we went to Ephesians 3:17-19 “...that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be also able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height–“

God says we are to be rooted in love. Princess G reasoned what it means to be rooted in love–that you will feel secure, peaceful, loving, etc. She also reasoned that these amount to the Fruit of the Spirit. We eat of the fruit of the Spirit when we are rooted in God’s love. As we take it in we are nourished by this Heavenly fruit.
Then, as she was a tree with her branches out wide and her leaf fingers wriggling in the wind, she also reasoned that as she takes in the Fruit of the Spirit through her roots, her branches will also produce that same fruit. She will then be able to offer to others that same fruit, changing her world with peace, love, joy, etc (and, of course, self-control!). What a wonderful picture! She drew it for her notebook, with herself as a tree, rooted in a heart with branches that offer the nine fruits of the Spirit. (see Psalm 1, revelation 22:2.)
It is these moments that remind me why I do this. I am teaching her to reason from the Word of God and to apply it to her life. God, help me to be rooted in Your love. Help me to feast on the Love that only You can give, and help me to be so full of that love that it changes everyone I meet.

The 5th R

In the Biblical Principle Approach to American Christian education we use what we call the 4-R’s: research, reason, relate and record. If you want to know more about that, Shannon offers a nice synopsis, and so does Diane.  Did you know there is a 5th R? (at least in the Gospel according to Anna-Marie…)

This is important, especially for those new to home education, whatever your philosophy or methodology. It’s painfully simple (yes, painfully–as you will see in a moment) and so obvious that we seem to overlook it often times. The 5th R is REST. 

First you must rest in the Lord. Rest comes with trusting Him. And believe it or not, resting takes effort. It’s not a lay down and relax sort of thing (although that sounds REALLY good to me right about now), but it’s a resting, a waiting on God. In Hebrews 4 Paul says we must labor to enter into the rest God has prepared for His children. It does not come easy, especially to mothers. We must consciously make an effort to believe the Lord and to trust Him.

Then you must rest in your love for your children. Your mother’s love compels you to learn all you can about your child: their learning styles, habits, strengths and weaknesses, giftings, callings. This maternal desire to bond can be a wonderful tool in God’s hands. He will use that to make you a better teacher–and a better mother. And it will keep you striving, searching, seeking out the best materials and lessons. They will turn out well because you care and because you are making every effort toward shaping Christians who can reason from God’s Word.

Lastly, rest in the process. It will work if you will work it. Reasoning from God’s Word is the hardest thing you will ever teach your children to do. It will challenge you and magnify your own shortcomings (at least in your own eyes). Your children will learn to reason. They will also learn fractions and the circulatory system and Shakespeare because you will make sure of that. But don’t get so caught up in the mechanics of the Biblical Principle Approach that you lose your joy–and your sanity. Or at least give up and move on. Keep working, little by little. You will not BPA everything right away. It’s a process. And don’t think you are not “doing it right” or doing enough. You do what you can and when you know more you do more.

This new year I encourage you, mom to mom, to make an effort in 2007 to enter into that rest. If you feel you are called to teach your little lambs, then the Lord will help you on this journey. And as you enter into His rest you will find renewed strength, abundant joy and eternal hope.

Shakespeare: bard of the Bible

I have found some great sites to help in your studies of Shakespeare. These links are good for elementary through high school.

Surfing with the Bard
Mr. William Shakespeare and the internet
The seven stages of Shakespeare’s life
Shakespeare Resource Center
Shakespeare Illustrated has many works of art using his writing as the subject.
In Search of Shakespeare is the PBS special. They have stuff for elementary ages.
Internet Public Library has all of his works available online.
Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has interesting photos of the museum.
Shakespeare Online
Shakespeare Virtual Field Trip is interesting for the peek into Elizabethan life.
All ages can appreciate Shakespeare’s works. The younger ones can listen to selections from Charles and Mary Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare. (The kids won’t know they “can’t do Shakespeare yet” if you don’t tell them!) His many references to scripture and his sayings that have found their way into our modern vocabulary make for interesting study.

The older ones can delve into the nuances of his work. He is worth much study over time. We will touch on his life and work many times over the remaining years.