10 Ways to Use Notebooking: #9 Research & Projects

10 Ways to Use Notebooking: #9 Research & Projects
10 Ways to Use Notebooking: #9 Research & Projects

Our home has been filled to overflowing (at various times) with amplifiers, bugs, bridges, chickens, dogs, electronics, birds, horses, cows, fish, and better mousetraps — fortunately, mostly figuratively!

Here are a few reasons why providing time for independent learning is so important:

  1. It fosters a love of learning that will carry on beyond “school years” through all of life.
  2. It encourages research and inspires a child to find out for himself.
  3. It provides an opportunity to practice those skills he is learning.  Writing doesn’t just happen in “writing” class, and math has an application outside of “math” class.
  4. It instills the idea that there is nothing that a child cannot know for himself.  That learning doesn’t come from without, but is something we pursue from within.
  5. At the junior/senior level, projects are opportunities for documented research and portfolio creation.
  6. It becomes a proving ground for areas of study leading to vocation.

Sounds great!  But where to start….

Is there something your child is just crazy about?  No?

  • Expose your child to many different potential areas of interest. Some will fall by the wayside, but some will ignite a spark. One of the easiest, most cost-free (thanks to online resources and the library), and most reliable ways to do this is to simply provide your child with a variety of books about a variety of subjects.  If one book in particular seems to be a hit, ask if he would like other books on that subject and begin to feed that interest.
  • Share your interests.  Young children in particular love to do what we adults are doing.
  • Employ “the coffee-table strategy.”  Place books where the family frequently gathers.  Those titles will usually be picked up and perused, oftentimes sparking new ideas.

Now, help your child use those interests as a basis for researching his own projects — investigating to his heart’s content until his curiosity has been satisfied.  And document those interests with a project notebook!

  • Even the youngest child can have a block of time set aside to pursue his own interests.  This could be a short as a half hour scheduled in the day for him to productively focus on what interests him.
  • Have your child make a list of things he is interested in.  This is his chance to decide what he will spend his block of time on.  No passive activities (TV, video games) allowed!  Try to encourage positive interests — a nature focus instead of a fad, for example.
  • For the youngest child, help him think of things he will need to pursue his interest.  Help him gather supplies — reference books, kits, paper, notebook, and other supplies.
  • As your child spends time with his interest, there may be occasions when it appears very little is happening.  Studying an interest takes time!  Don’t rush the output.
  • There will come a point where what has gone in will find its way out again.  Encourage the recording habit with a project notebook — provide your child with a [insert name of interest] notebook!
  • Encourage him to decorate his project notebook.  This is his interest, so it will be near and dear to his heart.  And this notebook will become his personal favorite!  Also include a variety of blank notebooking pages or lapbook foldables to help him document his interest.  You might also look for pages decorated with a theme matching his interest.
  • If he is writing every day, his project notebook will become a repository for copywork, thoughts, ideas, records of explorations, narrations, illustrations, diagrams, and reflections — all related to his topic of choice.
  • Don’t be surprised if your child has more than one project notebook going at a time.  As long as he is not frustrated, the more the merrier!
  • Don’t be surprised if interests wane and new ones are picked up.  However, we want to encourage an interest by feeding it more information, resources, books, kits, projects, and ideas when appropriate, until that interest has been investigated to its appropriate end.  We don’t want these interests to be fleeting — chaotically jumping from one thing to another — but rather directed to an amiable conclusion (our child has discovered what his curiosity pushed him toward and is satisfied).
  • As your child’s skills increase, so should the quality and size of his project notebook.  This really happens naturally and needs no prompting from us.  However, again, we do need to make sure these efforts are directed with diligent purpose rather than lackadaisically pursued.
  • Naturally, as his skills increase, more time will be required for research and documentation.  By the time those high school years approach, he will need a couple of hours every day to pursue his research projects.

 Additional Resources

7 Ways to Develop an Independent Researcher
Ideas for encouraging research.

14 Ways to Plan Studies Around an Interest
Ideas for feeding and directing an interest.

4 Ways to Provide Time for Productive Interests
How to get it done — practically speaking.

6 Ways to Encourage Your Children to Pursue Their Interests
Other ideas to help children find an interest.

10 Steps to Writing a Research Paper
A research paper is the culmination of a student’s previous experience: skills, interests, and writing background — and a perfect end to a project!

A few helpful tools.

Boy Scouts Handbook {Free eBook}

Boy Scouts Handbook
Original 1911 handbook that has a wealth of ideas for interests that boys and girls can pursue.

Printables & Notebooking Pages

Scrapbook-Inspired Notebook Pages
Pages at NotebookingFairy.com perfect for documenting an interest or project.

Drawing & Writing Notebooking Paper {Free Download}
Room at the top for illustrating and room at the bottom for recording observations.

Enjoy the entire series: