Real Life Homeschooling
Sticky Note(booking) typography
Carrie Fernandez
three snapshots of notebooks
An Easy-To-Use Homeschooling Tool typography on a scrap of blue paper
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Carrie Fernandez, the owner and publisher at Daily Skill Building, brings you a featured column this year—Sticky Note(booking). She’ll be sharing how this easy-to-use, flexible tool breathes creativity and life into the way your kids do school.

Notebook Adventures With Younger Students


otebooking is a great way to assess your students’ comprehension and document their learning adventures without using traditional workbooks and worksheets. It’s perfect for upper elementary through high school students, but did you know you can also use notebooking with younger children as well?

If your children can draw and orally narrate—or tell back to you—what they have learned, you can start notebooking with them. You may need to ask your children questions and write down what they say if they don’t have the ability to write it for themselves. But they will have a blast drawing what they see in their minds, and their notebooking journals will be treasured keepsakes for years to come.

If you are like me, you read lots of books in your homeschool! When you read a book that offers learning opportunities, you can grab a sheet of paper, a blank notebooking template, or a Notebook Companion™ and set your kid loose.

Five Tips for Notebooking With Your Youngest Learners

1 Use Coloring Pages with Lines for Writing

Find notebooking pages online that consist of an image to color at the top of the page and lines beneath the image to write out information. For example, if you are learning about animals, your children could color the animal and write its name below the image. Then they can narrate some facts for you to add.

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2 Try Notebooking Templates
Look for pages that have space for drawing and larger writing lines—preferably the dashed, primary lines suitable for beginning writers who are learning how to form letters and write sentences. This way you can naturally weave handwriting practice into just about any subject without a designated time to practice handwriting. For your reluctant writers, notebooking is a “sneaky” way to get them to practice their penmanship!
3 Put Copywork into Practice
If your students can write, ask them to dictate to you what they want to include on their notebooking page. After you have written it out, have them copy it. This allows your children to take their time and focus on the skill of handwriting instead of having to think about what they want to write while writing it. Just don’t get so focused on practicing handwriting that you lose the freedom and excitement that notebooking can provide!
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4 Create an Interactive Notebook with Lapbook Elements
Younger kids often enjoy cutting and pasting. You can add lapbooking elements to give notebooking a more hands-on approach and build fine motor skills. If you don’t have any blank lapbooking elements handy, it’s easy to find free templates online or make them yourself.

There are various lapbooking elements you can make without a lot of prep time.

  • Take a small piece of tablet paper and accordion fold it. Have your children write a different fact on each section. Affix the back page to your notebook, and your children can simply unfold their creation to see what they’ve learned.
  • Attach an envelope to your notebook page. Have your children write information on a separate piece of paper that can be folded and tucked inside the envelope.
  • Create a small book by folding paper. Your children can add drawings and dictate captions or facts along with them. Then they can glue the back of the small book to a notebooking page.
5 Remember Variety is the Spice of Life
You can ask your students to draw what they remember from a story or non-fiction book, copy some of the text from it, or orally narrate back to you what they learned so you can write it down for them.

They can write (or dictate) a letter to someone about what they’ve learned, or come up with a poem. Your children can even create a notebook-sized poster or advertisement—for example, they can make one for a new exhibit at a zoo if you’re studying animals.

The possibilities are endless!
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a smiling young girl with her hair in two braids holds a green binder full of paper
a watercolor illustration of an American Goldfinch

Putting It Together

The best way to notebook with younger students is to keep a three-ring binder that you can add their notebooking pages into. This may consist of drawings, coloring pages, written narration (whether you write what they dictate to you or they do it themselves), and anything else you’d like to add.

Younger students have to develop a lot of skills to effectively notebook. Let’s face it—handwriting in the beginning is a lot of work! Your kindergarten and first-grade student might have a notebooking page that consists of a drawing, a title, and one sentence below it. And guess what? That’s totally fine.

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a yellow colored pencil, a tree drawing and a paper hole puncher

“Their notebooking journals will be treasured keepsakes for years to come.”

As younger students progress with writing abilities, notebooking will become a familiar form of learning for them, and they will know what to do. You could also use a Notebook Companion™ specifically for younger children. We have Beginner’s Notebook Companions™ for grades K-3 at that incorporate drawing, narration, coloring, and more. It’s a fun way to break free from traditional worksheets and let your children’s imagination soar!
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headshot of Carrie Fernandez

arrie Fernandez has been homeschooling for more than seventeen years. She has two daughters and is the wife of a talented artist husband. Along her homeschooling journey she embraced the notebooking method of learning, which allowed her children to thrive. She’s the owner and publisher at Daily Skill Building, which provides easy-to-use, open-and-go homeschooling resources, including Notebook Companions for popular books. She also runs Homeschool Giveaways, a popular go-to resource for free homeschool downloads.