Journaling Your Way to an Education

Lapbook Open

The Notebooking Method for Homeschool

I didn’t even realize this was an official method for homeschooling, until I came across it in several sites with its own category listing.  My kids and I have been notebooking (lapbooking) for a couple of years, and I can honestly say that it has taken on a life of its own.  I wouldn’t call it a full-fledged method for us, but it is a significant part of our education!

Notebooking allows children to process what they learn by creating a kind of interactive journal.  It is ideal for covering broad topics or literature units, as information can be disseminated into smaller parcels.  The emphasis is on collecting and organizing information, and documenting student learning.  It is very affordable – costing only the price of a few file folders, some paper and crayons, and your local library card.

Children who thrive with Notebooking:

  • love to follow their own interests
  • enjoy delving deep into an area of interest and exploring it more fully than their peers
  • have an interest in demonstrating or expanding their creativity
  • often enjoy hobbies or interests on their own
  • do not need to prove mastery of skills through written tests
  • are pleased with a tangible record of their achievements

More about the Notebooking Method –

Homeschool Notebooking – lots of free printables

HomeHearts – great ideas on how to use specific subjects in notebooking

The Homeschool House – a glimpse at how one homeschool mom successfully incorporates notebooking into their yearly schedule

Looking for other Homeschool methods? 

Try these other styles in my series:


Charlotte Mason

Unit Studies

Classical Method


Hitting the Books in Homeschooling


Literature-Based Home Schooling Method

At first glance, the Literature-Based Method might seem like the Charlotte Mason method, but it differs because of its more modern and broad approach.

Advocates of literature-based curriculum disdain the use of textbooks as being dry, boring, and unrelated to real life.  They prefer to use “living books” – a hallmark of Charlotte Mason’s approach – but the selection is considerably wider.  Historical fiction, first-person accounts (like diaries and journals), expert-authored topical texts, and of course, the classics, are among typical choices.

Homeschool Curriculum Advisor states that “usually a literature-based home schooling method will work quite well for you (at least you’ll have less stress in continuing on) if you:

  • want to have your child follow a set scope and sequence,
  • want to have general accountability for your child,
  • see a value in having your child love to read by reading books he or she will love to read,
  • want to be involved in the day-to-day process of your child’s education, through discussion that will draw out what your child is learning and perhaps controversial issues raised through the books.”

Literature-Based schooling is remarkably flexible, and able to encompass multiple teaching strategies, including Unit Studies and Notebooking/Lapbooking activities.  Sonlight Home School Curriculum is probably the most well-known of the literature-based home school curriculums.

More about the Literature-Based Method –

Homeschool Diner

The Simple Homeschool

Beautiful Feet Books

Successful Homeschooling

Looking for other Homeschool methods? 

Try these other styles in my series:


Charlotte Mason

Unit Studies

Classical Method

What is Teaching through Unit Studies?

Children volunteering

We’ve toured the Charlotte Mason Method and taken a peek at Unschooling – so now let’s look at my personal favorite – Unit Studies.


Basically, a unit study takes a central theme and builds lessons around that theme. One theme will include all or most areas of study by focusing on the main idea.

For example, the main theme could be rocks. You could build a rock garden and study Japanese culture (art and history), study the different types of rocks or the process of erosion (science), read books that deal with rocks or look up references to rocks in the Bible (literature), spell the different kinds of rocks (spelling/vocabulary), importance of rocks to cultures throughout history (history), and so on.

Many homeschool families choose to use a separate math curriculum, but you may integrate math in your unit studies as well, especially for younger children.

Advantages of a Unit Study Curriculum

There are many advantages to using the unit study approach to learning.

1. Children tend to retain, on average, 45% more information for a longer period of time using thematic units as opposed to traditional textbooks.

2. Homeschooling unit studies allow you to teach multiple grade levels using the same theme. You will simply adjust the content to fit each child’s ability. This way, the prep time is dramatically decreased and children learn more.

3. The older kids can help the younger and the younger can learn from exposure to the older kids’ lessons.

4. There are also many different ways to teach unit studies, which make them perfect for children with learning disabilities or a different learning style.

5. It can be a inexpensive homeschooling option for those who create their own unit study.

Disadvantages of Homeschool Unit Studies

While there are many advantages, there can be some disadvantages to unit studies as well:

1. It is often necessary to use an additional math curriculum since it is such a specific and complex subject.

2. It also takes a lot of time to prepare for a unit study. (Though, keep in mind that preparing lessons for 3 kids for 7 different subjects can be even more time consuming!)

3. Homeschool unit studies can be difficult for parents who favor the structure of a more traditional approach.

4. Unit studies are not as tidy as workbooks and textbooks (but they can sometimes be a whole lot more fun for both the parents and the students!)

Unit Study Curriculum Choices

Unit studies are a great choice for homeschooling families who are looking for a way to teach their children in a fun way. It helps kids to retain the information longer and is easy to adapt for multiple grade levels. Although it is not as structured as textbook learning, unit studies continue to be a fun way to help children learn.

Examples of great comprehensive unit study curriculum choices are Konos, Weaver Curriculum, Five in a Row and Tapestry of Grace.