Home School Life Journal From Preschool to High School

Home School Life Journal ........... Ceramics by Katie Bergenholtz
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales

History and Geography Meme 68: Using Ordinary Paper for Notebooking

Even though I occasionally use notebooking sheets for our homeschool, most often I use blank, white copy paper, or sometimes ordinary blank lined paper or, even more rarely, a blank composition book.

It's less expensive. I don't have to buy anything and print out anything. Ordinary blank paper is the cheapest thing out there. {Then I can spend more money on the books. : ) }

I can be suited to the needs of my students individual level or personality. Some like to sketch more and some like to write more. Some like to plan ahead a lot and some like to decide how it will go as they go along. Ordinary paper suits everyone's needs.

I don't have to spend a lot of time looking for the perfect notebooking sheets. I know, I get a bit obsessive, but it seems like every notebooking pages set I have ever owned at some point doesn't have what I need. I have to then modify my children's learning to meet the needs of the notebooking page and not the other way around. Plain paper is so easy to modify to my child's grade, age and personality.

I know I could make my own, but that does take a lot of time...time I would rather spend doing something fun. It takes a lot less time to teach my kids how to make a page for themselves with ordinary paper than to keep making new pages on my computer all the time.
It is far better to trace a person or map yourself than to put in a printed from the computer one.
It is far better to sketch yourself, rather than cut out a picture and glue it on.
However, if a map or an illustration that a child find is just what they want to add to their page, then let them.
It is their page.

What I like best about using plain paper is that it forces my students to make decisions about the information they have learned. It truly makes the student own the work, instead of filling out a form. It forces them to be creative, to show more of how they have assimilated the knowledge. I think Charlotte Mason would agree with me that this is a good idea. It is authentically their own ideas.

This doesn't just apply to history. Every subject from science to English to math (although I do include graph paper in the possible papers that my students can use for math) can be done on plain, ordinary paper.

We do narrations, copywork, dictations...just about everything on plain paper. I even plan my schoolwork on plain paper. It just works better for me than a planner. You should try it some time.
Don't be afraid of plain paper.
To help your students not be afraid of plain paper, teach them the basics of making the sheet their own.
Have them lightly draw a border on the page using a ruler. You can do it for them at first, if they are so young that using a ruler to draw a straight line is frustrating. Alternatively, they can use lined paper that  already has the border drawn on.
See, doesn't it already look less scary?

Now, put a title on the page. If your child is young, you can suggest a title. It doesn't have to anything special, but it can be, if you want it to be. Remember, this is their work.

Your student can write the title in some fancy way. You can suggest they start with bubble writing, if you want. Or, they can just write their letters a bit larger. They can frame the title, if they wish.
They can write the title in colors...colors that strike their fancy, or colors that go with the title, like green for the title Ireland.

Now read a good book or two or three to them. Or more, if you like. Or have them read them, if they are reading.  Look at pictures on the subject together. Immerse yourselves in the subject.Through all of this, the way your child want to present the information that it coming together in his head, sometimes comes to him and then, he is off. Sometimes they may need you to give them an example of something, either from a made-up page or something you can sketch out yourself. That is okay as long as it is a way for them to learn from them, but it is not okay if they want to begin depending on something outside themselves.

Sometimes the information is there, but your student is not quite sure how to present it.
It takes time to learn to make really fun notebook pages, but don't worry, they have lots of time.
If your student is really stuck, then let them look at other notebook pages to get ideas.
Sometimes they won't want others to see their work. I respect that. Sometimes putting yourself out there is scary. It is like anything else that is learned, however. Sometimes it takes a couple of not so good efforts, or falls on a bike before you learn to ride, glide, show off your talents. That is okay, they will feel the wind in their hair before you know it.
The bridge to writing essays is more seamless, it seems to me, once you have had your student make their own pages. They are not as afraid of a blank sheet of paper.
This all is not to say that I don't ever use notebooking pages. I do quite often, but I am not dependent on them.
How do you feel about notebooking pages vs. plain paper?

I hope that you will continue to link your new (and old) posts with any history and geography topic to this meme every Thursday. Please include this button on either the post you have linked or your sidebar or mention All Things Beautiful History and Geography meme in your post with a link. All posts that do not link directly to a history or geography post will be deleted. Remember that I am pinning all posts to Pinterest.

I would also like to bring your attention to some other history and geography related linkies you might be interested in.
Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop
at Mud Hut Mama

Beginning again on April 3rd, A Journey of Joy will be having Wednesdays Around the World Link-Up and will also be having a giveaway on that day as well.  So be sure to be working on your history and geography lessons, so you can link-up and enter the giveaway!


  1. We've actually completely abandoned the notebooking pages from our history curriculum, it was sucking all the joy out of my kids learning, so we dropped it.
    Now, we're using plain paper, and other such stuff that I scrounge up.

  2. Right on, Phyllis! I agree :) There is a part of me that is attracted to those pre-made notebooking pages that are all organized and such, and we have used them in the past, but my girls aren't huge fans at all. I do have copies of general pages around in a folder that they can use if they'd like, but typically they aren't interested.


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. It means so much.