10 Ways to Use Notebooking: #5 Grammar & Spelling

10 Ways to Use Notebooking: #5 Grammar & Spelling
10 Ways to Use Notebooking: #5 Grammar & Spelling

We are not of the group that believes that grammar needs to be taught each year from first grade through high school.  If you are using a traditional textbook course, while that may be the scope and sequence you will follow, some of our notebooking suggestions will still work for you.

We used a more natural approach — having our children write something every day (whether copywork, dictation, or an original work). We used these opportunities to work on mechanics (punctuation and capitalization), usage, grammar, and spelling as they were encountered, focusing on one or two errors at a time.  The quantity and quality of their writing naturally increased as they grew.  This “grammar-on-the-fly” approach was particularly effective:

  • There was an impetus and incentive to learn the rules since it was applicable to what the child himself chose to write.
  • By writing the rules down at the time they were needed, they stuck.
  • Writing the rules down also has a way of committing them to memory.
  • Their notebooks became their grammar references — self-written.
  • There was no talking about nouns before they had written enough to understand what a noun’s function in a sentence was.

We did have each child work through a regular grammar course that included diagramming once they were writing well, had developed their grammar notebook, and understood the basic language of grammar.  (Frankly, if you really want your children to understand grammar — the study of the function of words in a sentence — they should study Latin.  But that is a post for a different day!)

Similarly, spelling was particularly effective, since instead of using a random list of spelling words to test what they didn’t know, the objective was to help them focus on spelling those words they used in their own writing correctly.  I firmly believe, and from personal experience know, that spelling really boils down to an attention to spelling!

  • Don’t expect too much when your child first begins to write.  Start small when it comes to red-lining, focusing on one or two errors with rules, to avoid discouraging the young writer.
  • With the youngest, it will be enough to help them learn to capitalize correctly and use proper punctuation.  Spelling will also likely be a focus.
  • Have a grammar reference on hand from which your child can copy the rules that apply to the one or two errors you choose to have him focus on.  Long-winded explanations are usually not particularly helpful.  You’ll find our favorite recommendations below.
  • Help your child come up with appropriate headings, particularly in the beginning.  It may help to divide the grammar notebook up into sections such as punctuation, capitalization, and grammar.  Then as each rule is encountered it can be copied into the proper section of the notebook on its own page.  So the rule “Place a period at the end of each sentence” could be recorded in the punctuation section on a page titled “Periods.”  If this is confusing, simply replicate the structure used in your grammar reference.
  • Have your child include several examples of the rule.  Include the corrected version of his own writing when possible.
  • When your child is using a formal grammar course, each rule he encounters can be copied into his notebook along with examples and diagrams.
  • When your child misspells a word, the word can be recorded in his spelling notebook under the heading of the rule the word follows.  Some words do not follow the rules!  Use the heading “Difficult Words” or “Rule Breakers” for a heading.
  • A spelling notebook can also contain a home for his spelling practice sheets.  You’ll find more information on this and our ideas for spelling below.

Additional Resources
Language Arts the Natural Way

Language Arts the Natural Way
Series that explains the way we approached learning grammar.

10 Steps to Build a Better Speller
Our ideas for spelling the natural way along with recording sheets.

Grammar Workshop
Grammar helps for Mom.

Grammar-land {Free eBook and Go Alongs}

Grammar-land {Free eBook and Go Alongs}
Fun way to learn the parts of speech.  Free notebooking downloads included.

Learning Grammar Through Writing by Sandra M. Bell
A family favorite for covering grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and some spelling rules for the younger student.  Includes easy-to-understand rules with examples that make copying quick and useful.  There is also a chart included for keeping track of which rules the student has used.  Although this title published by EPS is no longer in print, it is still easy to find used.  Highly recommended!

Handbook of Grammar & Composition from A Beka
This is our favorite reference for the older student who is writing well.  Will carry a student through the upper grades and beyond.

Daily Lesson Plans in English {Free eBook}
A good option that fits the “natural way” for younger students.

Wheeler’s Graded Studies in English {Free eBook}
Excellent text to use after a child is writing well.

English Grammar & Composition {Free eBook}
Another option.

Natural Speller: Review & Helps

Natural Speller: Review & Helps
How we did spelling.

Printables & Notebooking Pages

Grammar Notebooking Page
Free download at HomeschoolNotebooking.com provides room to record a rule with room to list examples below. Also check out their Spelling Sheets.

Free Daily Spelling Test Form
Notebooking page.

Enjoy the entire series: