Do It Yourself Notebooking
So, you've done a bit of notebooking using the freebies online. Maybe you've even bought a kit or two. But now your creativity is kicking in and you want to do it yourself!
Yes, you can make your own notebooking pages, even if you're not terribly computer savvy. Just a little knowledge combined with the how-to's here will set you to making your own unique notebooking templates!
Benefits to Making Your Own Notebooking Pages
- Save money by DIY rather than buying them online.
- It's fun!
- Make special, detailed pages that are not available elsewhere.
- Make things to share with (or sell to) other homeschool moms.
What Program to Use?
So for this tutorial, I'll be using Publisher. My screenshots were taken with Screenshot Captor Freeware.
I'm just a homeschool mom who played around with the computer long enough to figure out a way to make my own notebooking pages. There are probably hundreds of ways to tackle this assignment. And many may be lots better than mine. But this is what I do. I hope that it will help you!
For tutorials using Microsoft Word, visit these 2 blog posts:
How to Create Homeschool Printables at Holy Spirit Led Homeschooling
Lapbook Folds Tutorial at Noggins & Nonsense
For video tutorials using Power Point, see this post at Notebooking Nook.
The First Step - the lines
My assumption is that your notebooking pages will have lots of lines for the children to write on. So this is where I start --a simple page of lines.
The lines can be spaced however far apart you desire. You can even add the dotted middle line for beginning writers. This step actually takes the longest, but once you've made a basic lined page, save it as a template to be used over and over for all your notebooking pages.
Instead of drawing individual lines, you can also insert a table with one column and turn off the vertical borders. The lines are already evenly spaced and you can change the size of the lines by changing the font size for the whole table or dragging the bottom corner.
This is what your first step will look like when done -- just lines on a page. When you get to this step, SAVE it for all your future notebooking pages.
I chose lines with small spaces in between for those pesky letters than hang down.
To make the lines, you should use -- big surprise here -- the line tool! (Actually, you can use a text box and the underline key, but it's not nearly as attractive or precise. So stick with the line tool.) The line tool is a small square on the left side; it has a diagonal line through it. Hover over it with your mouse, and the word line will pop up.
Although the line tool is precise, it can get messy if you accidentally move a line. So, as soon as you get a series of those lines like you want them, GROUP them together. Now they are one unit or object and can't get scattered again (until you ungroup them). The GROUP tool is one you'll want to become familiar with because it will save you a lot of grief in the future.
Here are the steps:
My lines, just a few of them, are just how I want them. I need more of course, but I'm going to use shortcuts to get there.
Now I select all I've made, using the arrow tool to outline what I want.
When the lines are selected, it looks like this:
Click on the group icon at the bottom, and now your group of lines can be moved and changed as one unit. To ungroup them, simply click the same icon. It toggles between group and ungroup Not sure what the icon means? Just hover over it and you'll see a label pop up! Nice, huh?
Now you can copy and paste as many of those units as you need to fill up your page.
Isn't that easier than drawing all the lines?
Now, your page is completely filled with lines, the foundation of your notebooking page. Group everything as one unit one last time. Don't forget to save this as your template -- you can use it over and over again for all your notebooking pages.
The Second Step
headings & text
Now that the foundation is laid, you can have fun! From now on, the sky is the limit for layouts and fun additions!
First create a heading box. This can be a simple rectangle box or a fancy clipart banner. Think about this -- do you want to add the title or leave it blank and have the child write it in? Remember it can be horizontal or vertical!
I'll walk you through a notebooking page I want to use with our Monet Artist Study.
For the title, you can use a rectangle or the autoshapes tool. Both of those can be found in the column on the left side. Remember to hover over the buttons to find what you want. I'm going to use the Autoshapes --Stars and Banners for an interesting heading ribbon.
Now, you can resize and position your banner how you like it.
But you've got to get rid of the lines behind the banner. This is an important trick! Select the banner, and click on Format Picture -- it has a tiny paint can and a paint brush. Or you can simply double click on the object and this menu will pop up! Where is says fill, choose the white square. That will fill up all the empty spaces with white instead of it being transparent.
Now the graphic will sit on top of the lines and hide them. If you've still got a stray line or two that you need to delete or edit, just ungroup your lines and modify only the ones that need to be changed.
The Format Picture button/menu is also how you can change the thickness of the line. Play around with the settings until you find something that looks pleasant to you.
I want to go ahead and print in a topic for my notebooking page -- Claude Monet-- and the dates of his life. But you could leave it blank and have the student fill it in. Simply use text boxes and position them inside the heading graphic. When you've got them just right, it's a good idea to group the whole set -- text and banner. Then you can adjust it as a whole.
The Next Step
making it shine with images
Most notebooking pages have images of some type, either printed on the page or drawn or glued onto the page. So consider what type of graphics you want -- full color graphics or photos, black and white images, or spaces for the student to draw or paste in images.
Of course, you'll need some images to add. There are many places to find images. If you need ideas, see the links below. Assuming that you've already saved some images on your computer to use, simply use the menus on the top of Publisher -- Insert, Picture, From File. Find your image, and voila it appears!
You can now resize it, move it, and arrange it however you want. I am moving mine to the top left.
Now I want to add some blank boxes at the bottom so that my daughter can either sketch or paste in two of Monet's masterpieces. Using the rectangle tool, I simply make boxes at the bottom of the page, adding a caption box as well and grouping all of those parts together. Don't forget to use your Format Picture tool to fill in the boxes with white just like I did above for the header.
Graphics for Notebooking Pages
- Karen's Whimsy Public Domain Images
Black and white as well as color images for historical periods, animals, holidays, cultures, and more.
- World Atlas
My absolute favorite map resource!
- DK Images
Full color images categorized in an easy to use format.
- Utopia Portrait Gallery
This is a great source for biographical notebooking page images!
- Clipart -ETC
Images galore! Use the search function to sort through the massive collection! This is one of my favorite places to search for black and white pictures.
- Sources for free timeline figures
This is another link list and specifically deals with historical events and people.
- US History Images
Lots dealing with Native Americans here! This is a fascinating browse even when you're not looking for notebooking graphics.
- Stickers -n- Fun Scrapbooking Sketches
These small thumbnail diagrams are scrapbooking layouts. But they are sure to spark your creativity when designing notebooking pages.
Finishing it Off - borders
Adding a border to the outside margin gives the page a finished and professional look. But of course you can leave the border off as well! Choose the rectangle or rounded rectangle buttons for the border. Change the line and shadow settings for more options. Remember to simply double click on the rectangle to modify the line thickness or choose a fancy border. (You can use the Format Picture button as well.)
Do you want some type of watermark or copyright line? Should you credit the graphic source on the page? Don't forget to add that as well right before you complete your project.
Proclick Binder System
Converting Notebook Pages to PDF
Now that you're making notebooking pages, you will want to share them, right? The best way to do that is to convert them into PDF files. That way, anyone can open them with the free Adobe Acrobat Reader.
If you use Publisher to create files, like I do, you can save as PDF right in Publisher.
Under FILE, choose SAVE AS.
Then under SAVE AS TYPE, choose PDF.
If you're using another program without this option, here are some other options for converting files to PDF. I have used all of these and can recommend them.
- Online File Converter
If you don't want to download any software for file conversion, then use this online converter! Quick, easy, and FREE.
- Primo PDF
Free software. Download, install, and start using it to convert files into PDFs. You access it from the Print function of any file. When you can choose what printer, you choose Primo PDF. Then you can rename the file and choose where to save it.
- PDF 995
Free to download, easy to use!
- Cute PDF
Another free PDF converter software. There are actually many of these online. You can search for free PDF converter.
Learn More About How to Use Notebooking - In Your Homeschool
If you like what you see in this notebooking exhibit and want to learn more about how to best use notebooking in your homeschool, Notebooking Success is a wonderful guide.
Written by a homeschool mom who has used notebooking for many years, Notebooking Success shows how to use notebooking to promote learning and retention. There are specific suggestions for different grade levels and for using notebooking with several styles of homeschool.