Notebooking 101: Interest-Led Notebooking

4 Easy Steps to Getting Started with Interest-Led Notebooking Today!

Notebooking your child's interests

I remember a time when my kids would actually cry whenever I would try to get them to write. The mere mention of the words “essay,” “report,” or “composition” would immediately induce a flood of waterworks.

It was bad.

As a writer, the fact that my kids hated writing was doubly hard. How could my children despise doing something that gives me so much pleasure?

Then one day, the answer to this question hit me like a ton of bricks: I enjoy writing because it’s my choice. I choose the topic, the style, and how long it will be. Whether I write 300 words or 1,500, when it comes down to it, I have no restrictions. This freedom makes a task that sends so many people running in the opposite direction not only manageable, but enjoyable.

I knew I wanted to give that gift to my kids so that they, too, would come to know the joys of producing the written word, but how could I accomplish that? 

Enter interest-led notebooking.

Our homeschool hasn’t been the same since.

When it comes to speaking and writing about homeschooling, notebooking is one of the topics that receives the most interest. And of all things notebooking, the most frequent question I hear is: How do you do interest-led notebooking?

Today I’m going to share that with you in 4 easy steps.

4 Easy Steps to Interest-Led Notebooking

(This post contains affiliate links.)

Step 1 – Choosing a topic

Choosing a topic

Ask your children to write a list of topics they’d like to know more about, or become an “expert” on. After giving them some time to think it over, have them narrow it down to just one – for now. Reassure them that there will always be time to tackle the other topics somewhere down the road, if they so choose.

And remember this one thing: even if their chosen topic doesn’t seem very “educational,” let them do it. Remember that there is learning to be found in everything.

Step 2 – Gathering information

Gathering information

Once your child has their topic, it’s time to start gathering up information. My family’s favorite place for that is the library. My children usually check out about a dozen books to look at.

Does this mean they use all of the books? Nope. After bringing the books home they page through each one and narrow it down to those that seem the most promising. The remaining books are simply there as back-up, should the need arise.

Besides the library, websites and videos are also fantastic resources to use. Whatever approach best fits your child’s learning style is the way to go. 🙂

Step 3 – Gathering supplies

Gathering supplies

After the topic and informational resources are ready, it’s time to make sure you’ve got your notebooking supplies such as:

  • 3-ring binders – I’ve found that these are the best style of notebook to use for this type of notebooking.
  • Sheet protectors – Not only do these prevent the pages from getting dog-eared and torn, but they’re an excellent way to include things that aren’t written on your average letter-size paper.
  • Notebooking pages -Obviously. 😉 I do have to point out here that some kids – like my 16-year-old – may prefer to work with plain old lined notebook paper.
  • Notebooking ideas printable – This is so helpful to have on hand because it provides so many ideas of different ways to notebook.
  • Craft supplies – (You can skip this if your kids aren’t crafty.) Stock up on fun supplies so that your kids can make their notebooks their own. My kids enjoy decorating theirs with stickers, washi tape, cardstock, glitter, and marker just to name a few.

Step 4 – Let the notebooking begin!

Let the notebooking begin!

Don’t let this part overwhelm you. Here are some simple tips to help you get your kids started on their interest-led notebooks:

  • Don’t tell them what to write about or how to do it. Let them look through their books and find something that catches their eye. Give them a copy of the notebooking ideas list and tell them that their job is to make their own field guide for their topic.
  • Don’t expect every single one of their pages to be a written summary or narration of what they’ve read. If that’s how they like to write, then, by all means, let them. But there are so many other ways for them to convey information, such as through copywork, writing poems about their topic, writing fictional stories, making comic strips, writing fact sheets, making maps, drawing narrative illustrations, and making pamphlets. I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. 🙂
  • Don’t correct their work. One of the biggest reasons kids don’t enjoy writing is because they put their heart and soul into composing something, only to have it marked up with red ink, pointing out every single error they’ve made. Notebooking is about helping your children learn to produce content. There does come a time for correcting writing. Notebooking is not one of them.

I have a fairly extensive notebooking playlist on my YouTube channel. Feel free to browse through it to gain any additional information you might be looking for.

I cannot stress to you enough how exhilarating it is to finally see my children not only writing, but enjoying it. In fact, they often work in these notebooks on days we’re not even doing any structured learning. What a change it’s been witnessing my children go from tears of frustration to asking me if they can write in their notebooks in their free time.

That, my friends, sure does sound like a win, now doesn’t it?



Author: Shelly Sangrey

I'm Shelly, a Christ-following, homeschooling Mom of eleven children ( okay, not ALL children. My oldest is 23.) I met my husband right after graduation, and we've been together ever since. Though my life can be hectic at times... okay, ALL the time, I wouldn't change it for anything.

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