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!
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? This year I bought Avery 1.5 inch binders from Target for $4 each. The same binder usually runs about $8 at office supply stores when it’s not back to school season. I have had good luck with most brand names and bad luck with store brands.
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.
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!
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