Abby’s Creative Writing Notebook

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I’m not sure where I found this notebook, but I thought it was great! So we decided to make one. I really liked that it had sections, both teaching and her writing, all in the same place. We took a week just to set the notebook up and to do the “Writing Ideas” section. We also did one page in the “Writing Notes” section. So here are the sections of her notebook:

Table of Contents

Writing Ideas

My Writing

Writing Notes

Writing Goals

This week she has started writing and we have set some goals.

Here are a couple of pictures of her Notebook as well as some of the pages we did in the “Writing Ideas” section.

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This is Abby’s cover. I recommend each student be allowed to decorate their cover. It makes it theirs.

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This is the Table of Contents. To make it easier, have your students/children number all the pages in their notebook. Even if they pull one out, they will be numbered and they can then add them to the Table of Contents.

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This is the first page in the “Writing Ideas” section. This is Abby’s Authority List. These are things she feels she has some authority writing about. Abby’s were: One Direction, Ed Sheeran, Deaf/Mute, Family, love, Acteens, Adventures.

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This is the Heart Map. She had to list things she loves. Her list was: Reading, my computer, Bible, Jesus, Writing, my phone, my family, sleeping and helping people.

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This is the Ideas for Writing. She was to write ways and places she could write for. Some of hers were: on a blog, on, letter to the editor, in a journal,m and Facebook.

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This was her Memory Hand. Here she was to write feeling words on each finger such as happy, sad, angry, excited, nervous, and proud. She then wrote a memory that cooresponded to the emotion. These can then be used to “jumpstart” an idea for writing.

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Here is her first writing assignment in her new notebook in the “My Writing” section. She recently went on a mission trip to Jackson, MS with her Acteens group. She had to write 5 paragraphs about her adventure.

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This page is in the “Writing Notes” section. I used this with my 5th graders when I taught school to help them make their sentences better. I thought Abby could use it as well. On each finger you write: who, what, where, where, and why and then how goes on the palm. We did a lesson together using a simple sentence like, “We went to the store.” We then used the words on the fingers to make the sentence better. Example: Who – change We to Mom and I. When – Add yesterday. Why – add to get milk. Where – change the store to Walmart. How – add in the car. So the simple sentence was changed to “Yesterday, Mom and I went to Walmart in the car to get milk.”


Swapping Adventures

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I think I might have posted about this before, but I thought I’d do it again.  On Facebook there is a group called Homeschool Swapping Adventures.  They have many different types of swaps you can get involved in.  Some include: postcards (monthly), Geoboxes, Traveling Buddies (similar to Flat Stanley), penpals, and various holiday swaps.  We have really enjoyed being involved in this group.  We are participating in the postcard swap right now.  We are trying to get a postcard from every state.  We even have a map up to mark each state we get.

4 1 13 002  This shows the map when we first put it up.  We only had four states.  We now have seven.  It’s a lot of fun to read the postcards, and then to mark them on the map.  This map is 2 pages x 2 pages.  You can make a map as large as 8 pages x 8 pages at Your Child Learns, this is one of my favorite sites.

We are also starting a unit study on Ireland and then Great Britain.  So we have done maps for those places as well.

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The first map is of Great Britain and the smaller map in the second picture is of Ireland.  We have also made the flags for England, Ireland, Wales, and Scotland.  As we do things in the unit study we will add to the maps.  Today she will be adding four cities in Ireland; Blarney, Trim, Galway, and Dublin.  She is working on a Sightseeing Guide booklet today.  I got this study from Homeschool Share, It is under the free lapbooks.  Abby feels she is too old for lapbooks, so we do the same thing but then put the lapbook components in a notebook.  Here are a couple of pictures.

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The first picture is the lapbook components she has completed.  I cut down a piece of construction paper and put holes in it.  She then completed the component and glued them on the construction paper.  When she is finished with the unit, she will have a notebook full of lapbook components as well as notes, drawings, and research essays.  So if you have a pre-teen or teenager that feels they are to old for lapbooks, this is a good alternative.  The second picture is the lapbook component she is working on today.

My next post will be about our new Writing Notebook and  our timeline.  I love our timeline!!  There is a post about it in an earlier post, but I thought I’d update it.



I will be webcasting again soon.

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I’m so excited that I will be webcasting again soon.  I’ll let you all know when I begin again. I know I will be doing a couple of holiday webcasts, but then I will begin doing my weekly webcasts after the first of the year.  SO if you have something you would like for me to cover in my webcasts please let me know.  I am again going to do some lapbooking and/or notebooking. I plan on covering some topics that are subject specific, such as using timelines in History, Nature/Science notebooks, and tips for teaching math. I’m also doing some research for a webcast on teaching and motivation tactics.  So let me know if these interest you and if you have suggestions.

I’ve also talked to Paul about doing a class online for elementary students.  My thoughts were something like a book club or unit study that the children could be a part of.  We would meet online either once a week or once a month to discuss the topic.  I would really like to know if that would interest anyone.  If it does please comment and let me know.  I think it would be a great motivator for the children.

School is going really well. We have changed a couple of things.  We are still using ACE for English and Math, but as soon as she finishes the PACES we have in Math we will be changing to Saxon 76. I was able to buy a Rod & Staff Spelling book, so we are using that. We are still doing writing on our own and she is doing really well with that.  We have been reading Little Women and I’ve been writing a unit study on the book.  I’m hoping to have it ready by the first of the year.  History and Science are still “Mystery of History” and “Apologia”.  Right now we are doing a unit study on Thanksgiving, so we have stopped History and Science for a bit.

Let me know how your school is going.  I’d love to hear from you.



Webcast – Summer Field Trips

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Today we will be discussing Field Trips.  The summertime is a great time to go and do some field trips that you might not have had time to do during the school year or because of weather.  So start thinking, where would you just love to take your children.

For me, and it might just be the teacher coming out in me, but I always like to have an educational reason for my field trips.  I also like to do as much documenting as I can so I can count the trip as part of our school.  Here in MS, our home school laws are pretty lienent, but I know that in some of the other states the laws are much more rigid and you will need to be careful how you document you home school.  So start now and always keep the habit of documenting your field trips.  One way to do this is to keep a journal.  I have one just for field trips.  I include dates, times, destinations, related subjects, any work perform, and pictures.  Pictures are something that I feel gives legitimacy to your field trip.  Also if you keep a lesson plan book, make sure you document the field trip in your lesson plan.

I have two Field Trip checklists that are available.  I have changed them to accommodate homeschoolers.  Both are checklists to help you, as the field trip coordinator,  make sure not to forget anything important.  But if you think of something else that needs to go on my checklist, please let me know.

Now let’s discuss the actual field trips.  There are so many places that you can take your child and make a learning experience out of it.  So let’s start by making a list.  When you are making your list think in terms of subjects or local attractions.  Subjects would be science, history, geography, geology, etc.  Local attractions would be something like Elvis’ birthplace.  Which is where we live.  We also have furniture factories, a buffalo park/zoo and a new Toyota plant.  Think also of people you know.  Do you know anyone that owns a business that might make a good field trip.  We know a couple that have retired and have opened a pottery place.  You can go there and make your own pottery from start to finish. Things like that make great field trips.

History places are wonderful as well and during the Summer many places have days dedicated to children.  Here in North MS, we have many Civil War sites and monuments.  This Friday one of those places are having a Kids’ Discovery Day.  It’s free, but also very educational.  The best way to find these things out is to just call.  But also look in your newspaper.  One new way that I have found is Facebook.  I just found a Facebook group that is dedicated to keeping families informed about things going on in our area.  I’m not sure how you would find these kinds of groups, but it can’t hurt to search.

But even if there is no kid’s day, you can still have a great field trip.  One of the first things I like to do when we visit a history site is to read about it.  I’ve found that our local libraries do a great job of having books on places in our state.  So go and see what you can find at the library.  Also the historical place itself will have literature that tells all about its History.

Another great idea is to do a couple of lessons on the site before visiting.  This seems to make a huge difference in the children and what they learn.  Some suggestions are:

Salt maps



Mini-books/lapbook components

Make weapons or tools used during that time period.

And of course read books

Another thing I have learned through the years is that inviting other families can make an ordinary field trip, Great!  So if you are a member of a home school group, you might put in the newsletter that you are planning this trip.  If not you might just invite some friends to go with you.  The checklists that I have available take into account others going on the field trip with you.

So let’s look at the checklists.  And remember if you have any suggestions to be added to the checklist, just let me know.

I have a lesson plan full of activities for Summer Science Fun that is available.  It is for sale for $3.  If anyone is interested in purchasing this, just email me or leave a message on my blog.  I use paypal and I’ll give you the information to send the money and then I’ll email you the file.  These lesson plans include things like taking a Nature Scavenger Hunt, making a “Soda Bottle Terrarium”, studying about clouds and making a cloud in a bottle, and much, much more.

While looking for the field trip file I had saved, I found another great resource I had saved sometime in the past.  It is called “Field Trip Notebook Pages”.  It can be found at .  It looks like a great resource to journal your adventures during the Summer.

I’d like to invite everyone to the upcoming webcasts on The Homeschool Channel .  Today, June 6, 2012, there will a webcast titled “Fun Summer Activities for Homeschoolers” hosted by Susan Evans.  Tomorrow, June 7, 2012, The Justice Family will be hosting “Awesome Science”.  Both webcast begin at 3:30pm Central time.  So come on over and find out about some great Summer fun for your family.

Ok that is about all our time, so I’ll see you next week.

Webcast Schedule

June 12th – Lapbooking your Summer

June 19th – Making books

June 26th – File Folder Reports

Notebooking 101 script

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Good afternoon.  Today we will be discussing notebooking.  The reason I picked this subject is because I think homeschoolers could really benefit from doing this type of study notebook.

There notebooks are called Interactive Student Notebooks, or ISNs for short.  An ISN is a spiral notebook or a binder that is used for one subject.  The student keeps the notebook as part of their learning, studying, and evaluation.  The concept of student interaction is what makes these notebooks unique.  There are no two notebooks that are the same.  The notebook is arranged so that the child gets information from the teacher and then uses that information in a creative way to show they understand the material.

The materials you will need to begin a notebook are: a spiral notebook or binder, scissors, glue or tape, colored pencils, stapler & crayons.

An example of a notebook would be that the teacher might give notes, or questions from a reading in a textbook as the “input”.  The child studies the information and is then told to do some creative work on the “output” page to show they understand.

The page set-up:  (see below)

We haven’t started using the Interactive Notebooks yet, but I’m planning on doing one for Science next year.  I already had all my daughter’s subjects and notebooks planned out before I cam across ISNs.  But I truly love the idea.  I can say that I’ve started a little bit of notebook type foldable that she is putting into her reading notebook.  Here is what we’ve done.  (show) She does an online class called, “The American Girl Club” through Curr-click.  They read one book a month.  I found lapbook components for the American Girls, so I thought it would be good for her to put those into her notebooks.  I really didn’t want to do a lapbook per girl.  So this was what I came up with.

We are doing a lapbook to go along with her history.  If you are using “The Story of the World, Vol. I”.  There are lapbook components for the entire book.  I’ll give that website at the end with the other resources.  This is what she has done with that. (show)  We have done the Chap. 1 minibook and we just finished Chap. 8, so we’ve done that one.  And we will do two a week until we catch up.

Now let’s look at the process to begin your notebook. (see below)

To begin your notebook, you should allow your child to decorate a cover for their notebook.  This gives them ownership.  They can also decorate a unit cover whenever you change units.  Her a couple of pictures of covers. (see below)

And here are some examples of the “input/right-hand page and the corresponding “output/left-hand page.  (see below)

Foldables are a great tool that a child can use for their creative page, that output page.  Here are some example of foldables.  Also all the lapbook components I have shown you from can also be used as foldables.

Here are some examples of foldables.  The first one is a “Cause & Effect” foldable.  The next one is different types of flap books.  And the next pictures are of foldables inside a notebook.  These foldables can be used as part of a teacher directed lesson, so they would go on the right hand side of the notebook.  Or they can be used by the student for the left-hand side of the notebook.  (the last picture says, “The Layers of the Atmosphere”)

Now here are my resources for today.  I think this is the largest resource pages I’ve had so far.

Here is my contact information.  If you would like me to send the resources to you just email me and I’ll send all of these to you.

Thanks for being here today and next week we will be discussing “Reading Strategies”.  I hope to see you next week.


Interactive Student Notebooks


The purpose of the interactive notebook is to enable students to be creative, independent thinkers and writers. Interactive notebooks are used for class notes as well as for other activities where the student will be asked to express his/her own ideas and process the information presented in class.


                  • 8.5 / 11 spiral notebook (one that an 8.5 x 11″ sheet of paper can fit into without any trimming)
                  • writing instruments (pencil, pen, colored pencils)
                  • scissors glue stick or tape

Page Set-Up

Left Page – OutputStudent Involvement (Showing Understanding and Creativity) Right Page – InputTeacher Involvement (Given Information)
                  • Brainstorming
                  • Foldables
                  • Concept Maps (Science)
                  • Push/Pull factors
                  • Questions
                  • Process Description (Math)
                  • Character Descriptions
                  • “Wanted” Posters
                  • Eulogy Finish this . . .
                  • Flow Charts, Spectrums
                  • Matrices, Clustering, Spoke
                  • Venn Diagram
                  • T-charts
                  • Cartoons, Caricatures
                  • Graphs
                  • Newscasts


                  • Lecture notes
                  • Procedural notes
                  • Vocabulary
                  • Basic Knowledge Questions
                  • Reading Notes
                  • Movie, Video notes

The Process

                  • Leave several pages at the beginning of the notebook for the table of contents.
                  • Number the pages — odd numbers on the right and even numbers on the left. Students should never continue a right-side page onto the back but should rather staple, tape, or glue on an extra sheet to extend a page.
                  • Keep a master Table of Contents with dates and points possible.
                  • Allow student to decorate cover and make a cover for each unit.
                  • Give material to be covered.  Student can write notes or just put in material on right side of notebook.
                  • On left side of notebook, student uses material in a creative way to show comprehension.

Cover Page    

Unit Cover Page  

Right Side – Input  

Left Side – Output  

Right Side – Input 

Left Side – Output  

Right Side – Input  

Left Side – Output  








Notebook Foldables (for Spirals, Binders, & Composition Books by: Dinah Zike


YouTube Videos: – this guy show a couple of different foldables and how to make them.

The Story of the World lapbook website:

 Paypal account:

Email address:

Blog address: