Combining Notebooking and Lapbooking

(Working feverishly on completing my Nature Study, Nature Journaling, and Poetry ebook – due to a family health issue, it has been slow going – but now is picking up! If you haven’t signed up for my Katie’s Homeschool Cottage newsletter to enter for a chance in the free drawing for this ebook, please do so!)

Being an eclectic Charlotte Mason method user, I wanted to find my own way in which to use all of the great lapbooks out there with our notebooking, written narration, and copywork we do when studying certain topics. And, coincidentally enough, remember that poll I had posted a few months back asking people what were some of the topics you would like to see covered in these posts? Well, using lapbooks and notebooking was a top question people had in filling out that poll.

I tried lapbooking with my two non-cutting, non-coloring boys (who don’t mind making things from scratch or writing notebooking and pages and adding their own artistic renderings of what they have written). It was not the success I had envisioned or hoped for. Something about the file folder and putting all of these little booklets on the file folder turned them off. I still don’t completely understand the emotional reaction they had to this, but we have found something that does work for us.

I’d like to share this idea with you. We use pieces of card stock, 3-hole punched and place these into our notebooks alongside our notebook pages. We do a couple of little booklets or whatever at a time and glue them onto the card stock as we study the topic throughout the semester. I think the variety of combining the written narration, their own drawings, and the booklets a few at a time breaks up what they might have felt either overwhelming or monotonous in putting together a big lapbook alone.

To give you some ideas of what we have done, I broke down ideas into subject areas and have included pictures, descriptions of what we have done, and links to resources you might find helpful:

  • Science
    Botany Notebook – Using Jeannie Fullbright’s Exploring Creation with Botany
         My son used Jeannie’s free notebooking pages available here – Botany notebooking pages and whenever we went on a nature, Charlotte Mason style, we would look for a sample of the plant life he was studying in this book to take home. We dried it, glued it onto a piece of card stock, labeled it, slipped it into a plastic sheet protector, and placed it into the notebook with the rest of the pages.
    At the same time, I printed off little diagrams or booklets about parts of a flower, seed, or plant that he would label or fill out. After completing each one, he glued that onto a piece of card stock and placed it into the notebook in the appropriate section discussing that topic.
    Each piece of card stock would be labeled with the topic on that page, and would be close to full- so that it wasn’t just one or two small items on the page.
    Whenever, my son had a science experiment to perform, we had a science experiment procedure notebook page, that he would use to write out his hypothesis, materials, procedures, observations, data, results, and conclusion. This page would also go in the appropriate area of study.
    In the end, he had a nice botany notebook with a cover provided in the free notebooking pages filled with samples, notes, experiments, and little diagrams and booklets. All of these placed in topic areas, as opposed to notebook sections labeled “notes”, “labs”, “projects”. This was more fluid for him.
  • Apologia General Science with my older son was a bit different.
    My older son likes a bit more structure and functions better when things are categorized. He labeled sections of his notebook “notes” (written narrations for him or handouts of notes), “labs”, “questions and answers” (lapbook parts from Live and Learn Press), “quizzes” (review study guides and tests provided by Apologia), and a pocket for index cards that he used to make flash cards for himself from the study guide questions.
    His notebook was organized according to function of the piece of paperwork. It was a combination of notebooking pages on which he wrote narrations of topics he read aside from the Apologia text and handouts where he read something and answered questions (this usually was a tie in to the historic period we were studying and how it related to his science), science experiment procedure notebooking pages (just like his brother) or printed from the Apologia text CD-Rom, and lapbook booklets glued onto pieces of card stock.
    The lapbook components we use are from Live and Learn Press – Live and Learn Press. They have booklets in which he can write the answers to questions from the Apologia text and write down definitions to vocabulary words as he proceeds through the text. My son glues these onto pieces of card stock as he works on them in order of the text.


  • History
    For the past two years, we have studied ancient civilizations and the middle ages. We put together a notebook for each during each year. We used a variety of notebooking pages from different sources for our written narrations and map study. For a study of crests and family history, we had matchbooks and other little books to glue onto cardstock to explain heraldry.
    For the chain of causes for the black plague, we used the wheel from the Story of the World Activity book, glued onto cardstock also.
    This year, we will be studying the Renaissance; we’ll be using a lap book (glued onto card stock pages) for that as well from Live and Learn Press along with our notebooking pages.

Heraldry and our Ancestors

Practicing illuminations just like the monks.
Taking outline notes on a notebooking page.
Written narration after reading “Medieval Feast” by Aliki.


Learning about the Hagia Sophia.


Notebooking Links

Here are a variety of resources that you may find helpful in assisting you in your notebooking endeavors:

Notebooking Pages (Great pages to purchase – big sale right now)

 Cindy Rushton – Notebooking Queen (Click on the Exploring Creation product and then the journal pages you want) (Great notebook pages to purchase) (Great notebooking lens by Jimmie)

Notebooking training resources (ebooks, audio seminars in mp3 format)



Cindy Rushton lapbooking ebook and audio seminar

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7 Responses

  1. Katie,
    This is great! I am seeing some links for notebooking and lapbooking I did not have before.
    While my boys like lapbooking they too are not “big’ on the separate lap “books” so we combine both as well for their subjects. :)
    I am going to be using Knowledge Box Central and love the way KBC sets up their notebooks for Apologia’s General Science. It is quite similiar to how you do it as well ~
    I am saving this one and checking out all these great new links I see~ thanks for these tips!

  2. I enjoyed hearing how you adapted the methods to suit the needs of your unique children.

    I’ve also been inspired by CM and started & ran a support group x4 years for CM method.

    I found you through the CoH and also participate in the CoH.

    I tweeted your post today.


  3. Where did you find the paragraph outline notebooking page? My 9 year old will be learning about outlining in his co-op science and writing classes this year and this looks like a great tool!

    • I love that page too! It’s from Study Skills That Stick by Scholastic. It’s one of the handiest forms in that book.

  4. A wonderful explanation of how to take the best of both worlds (lapbooks and notebooks) and make it work for YOU. Brilliant.

  5. thank you for your suggestion on the cardstock in your notebook rather than the traditional lapbook! my 7 yo boy is usually always turned off by anything that looks too artistic – wouldn’t even make one with airplanes or nascar!

    • I think that all of the folds and separate parts of the file folders added up to make the lapbook was overwhelming for my guys. But doing a mini book on one piece of cardstock at a time was more appealing and rewarding for them. Then putting it all together with the rest of their work in their notebooks made them very proud of all of their work for the year. Glad the suggestion helped!

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