organizing a classical conversations notebook

Welcome, friend. This is Day 4 of a 5 part series on organizing Classical Conversations. Click below to see the other posts and read more about what we have planned!

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I LOVE notebooks! I have a true fascination for the craft. It intrigues me, excites me and just plain makes me happy. I can’t imagine homeschooling without one. Each year, my children make a notebook that will collect, document, and showcase their academic journey for that year. It’s something that a bunch of scores could never do. Over the years, I have used notebooking to document our learning in Classical Conversations. Today, I want to share some of my best tips with you.

 

 

Selecting a notebook

Since I only have one notebook per student each year, it must be a good one. Not all notebooks are created equally and sadly, cost is directly reflective of a great notebook. Those less than a few dollars are not likely to make the cut. A second factor is size. You don’t want it to be so large that the child can’t easily use it, but it must be large enough to hold the work you intend to place in it. This is why many avid notebookers use more than one notebook per year. Since I don’t want more than one notebook, I simply choose to be a little more selective about what we keep in the notebook. So what do I buy? I love Avery 1.5 inch binders. (See shopping list below).

Setting up the notebook

This notebook could contain just about anything, but our focus is the Classical Conversations memory work. I buy the largest set of dividers that I can find (usually 8-10). A good quality divider is important, so that you don’t have issues with rips. I like the ones that are all plastic. Below is a picture from our binders for 2011-2012.

The categories from last year were: geography, history, math, science, Latin, English, SWR, and field trips. The first 6 are CC memory work topics. SWR is a spelling program that teaches children to read (I no longer use this program) and then the field trips category contains a notebooking page telling the story of each field trip that we went on last year. This year, my categories will be the same except that I will not have an SWR category.

The outside of the notebook leaves plenty of room for creativity. My kids have such fun with this! The picture up top shows last year’s binders. I used scrapbook stickers to spell the girl’s names and then let them decorate. This year, I printed off their names in my word processing program. I used “marker felt” font and chose the outline option so they could color them in. Then I printed a label for the spine.

 

Inside the notebook

The inside of the notebook is the best part. This is where my children shine! And the beauty of it? Anything goes. There is no one right way to record their work. You could do something for every subject every week or not. Another option is a single sheet that contains all of the memory work for each week. You can see an example of that in the dividers picture above. I’ve also used one that is more of a fill-in-the blank style. Both can be found on the CC Connected site.

I try to have one sheet per subject per week, so 7 total activities. It doesn’t always happen, but often. Hint: if you print these out WELL in advance, you will be far more likely to get to it without a lot of scrambling. Below is a sampling of some of the things that we have put in our notebook.

History… you can simply have your student draw a description of the history sentence. My kids never got bored with this. It’s fun to gain more information about the topic via literature, internet, or youtube videos and then draw about what you learned.

Latin…last year I found word searches and crossword puzzles on CC Connected. The kids loved those!

Math…I’ve used a simple 100’s chart and had the children color the numbers that we are doing for that week. However, this year I plan to use these Skip Counting Mazes by Confessions of a Homeschooler.

Geography…I print out a copy of the map from the Foundations guide and have the children find that week’s locations. This year I will use part of the  Memory Work Lapbooks created by Wisdom and Righteousness. I plan to adapt this into more of a notebook style.

Science…last year I printed minibooks to make a lapbook for science. I got them from CC Connected. This year, I will use the Memory Work Lapbooks by Wisdom and Righteousness. They are done very well and I know that my children will love using them.

Memory master…this year I am going to have Leah attempt to earn memory master. (This is when you learn all of the memory work for each subject for the entire 24 weeks.) I will add a new category to her binder. This section will include a list of the memory work, a checklist for weekly review, a copy of the proof sheet (which I will have her test on a few times throughout the year), and the official CC maps for geography. Having everything at her fingertips will enable her to take responsibility for her own learning.

Shopping List:

Putting it all together

Right about now you are probably wondering how I possibly have time to plan all of this. It does take some prep work, but once you have done the planning, much of the year will fall into place. This is where a great lesson planner will make a huge difference. By now, you should now that I use Scholaric. I’ve been in love with this program since the day we met!

It would be very difficult for me to teach 3 very different children without a great plan. Scholaric makes that possible. It’s unlike any other planner that I have used, offering a digital platform without the fuss. Seriously, there is nothing more annoying that sitting down to plan and finding that it takes 20 minutes just to get to the right profile for the right kid. And there is simply no time to spend 20 minutes entering a new resource to my plans. With Scholaric, that is done in a matter of seconds. I’m all about flowers and pretty things, yes, but what I really need is a program that works quickly and efficiently. Scholaric does that perfectly.

Also, the developer is a homeschool dad. He is interested in learning more about the needs of his customers and is highly receptive to feedback and questions. He blogs about the program with tips and updates which is really nice for this busy momma.

I would really encourage you to consider Scholaric for your homeschool planning this year. As with anything new, there will be a slight learning curve, but I think you will find the time well worth it in the long run! Go sign up for your free 2 week trial today!

 

This series is written in conjunction with 22 other bloggers to bring you 5 days of Organizing. Click below to check out the other great topics…

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Comments

  1. melissa says

    TOTALLY loving how you set up your notebooks!!!! stealing your idea today :) i have been wrestling with how i want ours to look this year because i just haven’t found my happy groove yet, even after 8 years of trying to! extra love to your field trips section! why haven’t i thought of that yet?????

  2. Heather Waldridge says

    I have enjoyed this series. What do you think about the W & R lapbooks for a young child who isn’t yet a proficient reader? My oldest is only 6. Are there enough pictures to help a beginning reader understand the content?

  3. brooke says

    Loving the skip counting mazes. Thanks! And those notebooks … I think I’ve found how I’d like to do our work this year. Much appreciated. I needed a little inspiration.

  4. juls says

    I have homeschooled my son since 6th grade and now he’s entering 8th, I still feel so new at this. Could you let me know what would most benefit us to read from this site? There’s so much but yet little time to read it all. Some of it seems geared towards younger children. Thanks so much for all of this great and wonderful insight!

    • says

      Hi friend, I honestly don’t write much that is applicable for older children, as my oldest is just 8 years old. However, I can point you into the right direction, as I have a huge network of blogging friends who write amazing blogs. Do you homeschool classically or do you like something else? (And it’s ok to say that you aren’t really sure!)

  5. Natalie says

    Hi Kim,
    I love the notebooking ideas!! I am a new CC mom and have been scouring CC Connected for some of the pages that you show. I am extremely new to this, but would love for my girls to incorporate notebooking into their learning. It’s just our style. However, I’m not having any luck finding those pages that are “all in one.” What do I need to look for when searching for those on CC Connected? Any help is GREATLY appreciated!! Natalie

    • Kim Sorgius says

      Hi Natalie,
      You can search “AJT C1 W1 to 6 Copywork Pages” by Nogreaterjoy5 for sheets that your student has to fill in.

      Or, lbasso made beautiful sheets with pre-printed information, search CC Memory Work – Cycle 1 Weekly Cards (Wks 1-24).

      I found both of these by selecting cycle 1 and then the misc category.
      Hope that helps. Blessings!

      • Natalie says

        Oh my!! Thank you so much!! There is so much to weed through…and it’s all such good stuff, its hard to go through all of it!! Again, thank you!! Natalie (CC-Simpsonville, SC)

  6. Natalie says

    Ok, one last question…Where did you find the “fill-ins” (2nd picture from the top)? Been looking all over CC Connected for those fill-ins and can’t seem to find them. Or did you just make those up for each week. Thanks, Natalie

    • Kim Sorgius says

      No one made fill-ins for this cycle. Those were from Cycle 3. And please, ask anything you’d like!

      • Kim Sorgius says

        Wait a minute…the ones in my picture are very similar to the copywork pages above. I was thinking about something else. You should be able to get those.

  7. grace says

    Thank you for sharing this .. we are so new with CC and just started. Just 1 question – the 1 picture above (has the Organize with Dividers title) has some kind of worksheet for review .. did you make them yourself or did you downloaded it from CC Connection. I don’t have access to CC Connect, not sure if I should go ahead sign up for it. Thanks again.

  8. monica says

    Just wondering if your notebooking pages are in page protectors or just 3 whole punched and put in between the dividers. I feel like I saw you recommend some page protectors but I dont see them in the picture. I am probably getting blogs confused.

  9. Daph says

    Oh man, this is awesome! What a great way to take school with you! I am doing this next year! I guess I’ll have to get a membership to C.C. Connected too! Love, love, love those worksheets.

  10. Christine says

    Hi there,
    Just learning about Classical conversations. So it seems like it is a curriculum you put together, correct? Or is there a specific website for Classical Conversations…? Sorry if this is a duh question. Just starting to look into this!! Glad I found your site, you have lots of great tips to share!
    Christine

  11. Erin says

    I always wondered what those “notebook pages” were for on CC Connected. I am going to try this, this year :)

  12. Laura says

    Thanks for posting this detailed list of how you help your children to be organized with their papers and lessons. I’m starting CC this year, and the planning and prep you’ve shared will help me get started without the paperwork frustrations we usually have come October.

  13. valleygirl says

    Ok, brand new homeschooling mom here and will be starting CC in a few months. Am trying to get organized which is hard since this is all so new for me. I love this idea but am a bit confused. The sheet you show in the picture looks like it has the whole week right there on it…so that sheet would go in what section? I’m guessing any extra work on the particular subjects then gets filed in the right category. So then for journal writing type of stuff would you do a divider for that too or just keep a separate notebook? Help I need ideas! Hoping to get this all planned out here in the next few weeks.

    • says

      I’m a one notebook kinda girl. Why not put them all in the same one and just use a divider? Of course, either ways works. But I’d probably stick with one.

      The sheet that is pictured is the summary of memory work for the week. I have a section in the notebook just for these, too!

      • valleygirl says

        I worry with an entire year….things won’t fit. You’ve not had this problem? 1.5 inch is sufficient always?

        • says

          I’ve never really had a problem, but I always promise myself that if I do, I can just split it up. I’m not heavy on paper work in every subject. If you have subjects that have papers every single day, you will probably want to have multiple notebooks.

          Also, I don’t save every single thing they do for the year. We pick the best things save those at the end.

  14. Tara says

    Thanks for this post! I’m brand new to CC this year, and I think I will be doing a lot of stalking on your blog. ;)

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