Notebooking topical studies like history, science, Bible, & even literature are easy to do. I get asked many times, “How do you notebook language arts?”. My answer? Notebooking IS language arts. You are expressing what you learned using a variety of media including language. I do not think this is the answer many are looking for though when asking this question. So let me try to give you a glimpse of what we do for language arts and maybe that will give you some ideas of what you can do in your homeschool.
We have used several different setups for our language arts notebooks. This changes throughout the year as we decide to organize things a little differently or because a notebook may become full and we want to thin it out for easier handling. Essentially though, we keep one or more notebooks for spelling and dictation, copywork, and formal writing. You may also want to keep a language book for Latin & Greek study, Spanish, etc.
The Spelling Notebook
For kids who still study spelling/phonics, we create a spelling log book each year. In the front of their notebook, they log each of their new spelling words with the correct markings (taught in the program we use). In the back of this notebook, they create reference pages which consist of pages that show how to follow spelling rules, grammar rules, lists of phonograms, and a handful of other pages like abbreviations, number pages, and grammar lists. These reference pages are taught and reviewed throughout the year. We add new spelling words to the reference pages as we encounter them in our spelling lists. For example, there is an IE/EI page where we talk about the spelling rule for using IE vs. EI. Every time we encounter a word spelled with IE/EI, we add it to the page. We include a space for their new words, phonograms, spelling rules, and examples of each. We do not keep copies of their quizzes/tests. We do these tests on marker boards and instead keep a list of “challenge words” in their notebooks that we review and quiz consistently until mastered. We also add special spelling words (geography terms, science terms, Books of the Bible, etc.) to the notebook and any words I find misspelled on their notebooking pages. If you do dictation, you could make a section for that as well in this notebook.
The Copywork Notebook
I have created a special set of notebooking pages just for copywork (in addition to our Alphabet Copywork Pages). I was inspired to create it for our poetry memorization as I wanted to make copywork pages that worked easily with the variations you find in poetry. These pages also work well with other copywork.
We also love the chosen passages from our dictation books, so the kids copy their passages each week into this special copywork notebook. We follow a rotation each week for copywork with the older kids who have mastered their handwriting basics. Each week, they copy their key Bible verse/passage, dictation exercises, and current poetry readings, plus anything else we may come across that seems copywork worthy. I make special notes of good copywork selections from our history, science, and literature readings. (Are you wondering, “What is copywork?” Click the following link for our article, “Homeschooling with Copywork“.)
For younger children who are still learning to form their letters, I would suggest you keep a sampling of their work each week. My younger kids do a Bible verse each week after practicing a variety of letters and new words. When the kids are first learning their letters and how to read, we create an alphabet notebook using our Alphabet Copywork Pages. In this copywork book, the pages have spaces for them to practice each letter or to copy words that start with these letters, to draw or paste pictures, etc. We do a little bit of work on different pages each day. By the end of the year the whole book is complete.
The Formal Writing Notebook
In our writing notebook, we keep all of our writing tools: adjective, adverb, preposition, and banned word lists. We keep checklists for the various writing styles and structures we use. Each child has a folder in their notebook to keep their various works-in-progress pieces of paper: outlines, assignment guidelines, original works, drafts, etc. When an assignment is complete, they file three things: the original outline(s), 1-2 draft copies, and the final copy of their assignment. At the end of the year, we will compile these into their much larger language arts binder that we keep from year to year unless they fit in one of their other notebooks under a specific topic or study. We will put the final copy in sheet protectors with all of the other stuff in between the final copies inside the sheet protectors. So all you see is page after page of their final writing assignments. It is great to read through these to see how they have grown as writers!