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

How to Make An Altered Composition Book Page; Guest Post by Susan of Stitching Life

Maybe you are like my children and myself and found lapbooking and premade notebooking pages dull much like workbooks. What are you to do?
You know you must read to learn and write to learn and perhaps you like to draw to learn too, as we do.
The answer for us is the altered composition book, a form of recording our learned lessons that developed out of our love for altering real books.
Here is an altered real book that Kathryn made when she was five years old...
it is the seed for the idea of the way we journal lessons now.
Before you begin to make your own altered composition books you will gather some supplies: colored pencils, a glue stick, a pen and thin black marker, some tracing paper and a composition journal.
Perhaps you are sure you like to read good books, the kind of books that tell good stories and have useful information.
To make an altered composition book start by reading a good book.
Read a bit at a time in a pace comfortable for you.
The children read one section in their Apologia Science books per day, or two if the section is short.
The assignment after reading is to narrate in writing some interesting to you information and draw/trace and color a picture to go with your writing.
Some students may ask how much information should they write and here the teacher can say three pieces of information or one bit of information whatever seems good for the child's level and the reading that is chosen.
The teacher should mix it up from time to time, change the assignment from bits and drawings to perhaps making a chart with something you learned comparing two things.
Or this week in your altered composition book I want a paragraph of one topic you were especially interested in that includes a title, an adverbial phrase and a who/which clause. I find Blooms Taxonomy of question starters inspiration for mixing up the altered book assignments.
It is helpful to have an example in the beginning of what you, the teacher, are looking for.
Here I made an altered composition book page for my son (13) this year, to show him how I wanted him to journal about what he learned.
Yes, think of altering composition books like journaling.
Here is a page from my sons altered science composition book this year
You will find many more examples of altered composition books under the category on my side bar at Stitching Life called A Trip Around the World.
Students think of the altered composition book page as a poster or presentation of their work. Since they are working on a bit each day it is not over whelming to them.
Starting with bubble lettering is a good way to begin. Bubble letter the title of your pages as we do in our geography altered books. Think about what colors might be good for your topic as in Ireland we chose red and green and white the colors of their flag or as in the Amish where we chose the colors of their clothes, the blues and grays.
The altered composition book encourages pride in work, makes a great keepsake and a good tool for reviewing.
There is no limit to what you might include in the altered composition book, mini books, origami, real photographs, printed pages from the Internet, all is useful.
The bulk or main part of the altered book should always, as I say to my children, be your drawings and writing.
It is far better to trace a person or map yourself than to put in a printed from the computer one.
Are you worried that the children will not include good information in their writing? Maybe they will not list the causes of the civil war for example or the parts of a cell as you might see in the prompts for lapbooks or the questions on workbook pages.
Trust, your children. Trust the good books you have chose for them. The children will chose good information to write and draw about, it just happens without much help from the teacher as the children's minds naturally are drawn to what interests them at the time of their reading much in the same way things interest you when you read.
The altered composition book does not replace writing assignments (written narrations) on topics for us.
The children write one essay a week this year using some mini writing lesson on a skill I am teaching them using the Institute for Excellence in Writing materials.
The altered composition book is not used in every subject every day this would be tedious for us.
I might have a schedule like this for a day.
Faith - do Seton wkbk, read Catholic Reluctantly three pages
Math - do next lesson
Science - read next section write and draw three bits.
World Geography - bubble letter and trace a map and read DK Geo. about Germany
Art - read about Durer outline an essay about him, two paragraphs, early life and works.
American History- Read about the flag.
Writing- Listen to mini lesson on sentence openers
Dictation - Copywork
Fix it - Edit passage, circle nouns underline verbs, put parenthesis around prepositions
Grammar - Play preposition bingo.
Roots - bag word review

Remember this...
"Like I said before, the kinds of ideas that children need to nourish their minds are mostly found in books with literary quality. If children are provided with these kinds of books, then their minds will do the work themselves to sort, arrange, select, choose, reject, and group the ideas together."
-From p.117 of Charlotte Mason in Modern English

Written by Susan of Stitching Life.
"I learned to crochet as a child. More recently I taught myself to quilt. I also home school our three children ages 10, 12 and 13, always have. On my blog I share my crochet and quilting projects, lesson plans for our school and sometimes recipes and book reviews."
This is a re-posting from Sept. 25 at Stitching Life.


  1. Anonymous14.11.10

    How sweet Phyllis,
    Thank you! Have a great week, I just finished getting all our lessons together and am about to crochet and watch television.

  2. Hmmm...this is an interesting concept. And, nice to be introduced to another blog :)

  3. Hmmmmm, I should start doing that. I keep meaning to have them go back to their science journals.


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