Inside the Mommyvan

Homeschooling & Life Inside the Mommyvan - an old dog learning new tricks

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This is what our reading notebook pages look like right now. The kids copy the book’s title and author and the date they read (or finished) it, and then draw a picture from the book with a caption.

I tell them that the picture has to be “something from the book,” but the books stay closed — they can’t just copy an illustration. I am not too picky beyond that. This isn’t a handwriting lesson either, so I don’t require them to stay within the lines on this type of notebook paper.

A fun activity that exercises many different skills and ends up with a nice portfolio piece! The level of the work can be easily adjusted from preschool on up.

You need:

  • 2 (or more) sheets of sturdy paper or cardstock
  • Old magazines
  • Glue or glue stick
  • Pencil
  • Ruler or straight edge
  • Binding materials (see below)
  • Enbellishments (optional – see below)

Lay the paper in front of you with a long edge nearest you, and fold it in half from left to right, making a sharp crease. Place one piece of folded paper inside the other and secure temporarily with one or two small pieces of tape. This is the basic ‘book’ that I used for my kids (K – 1st grade level). For older students, you might use a cardstock cover with multiple inside pages of plain paper, and adjust the number of pictures and length of story sections to match.

Have your child cut out several pictures from the magazines, thinking up a story to go with the images as they work. Next, they will decide on one picture for their cover, along with a title for their story. Glue the selected picture onto the front page of the book, and have them write the title. Below the title goes ‘by Child’s Name‘. This is a good time to reinforce title, author, illustrator and the parts of a book.

Next, your budding author will think about their story’s beginning, middle, and end. They will glue onto the first inside spread (two pages) the pictures that go with the beginning of the story, leaving room for writing. Using a ruler or straight edge, make light guidelines for writing, working around the pictures. The child will then come up with one to three sentences (again, adjusting for level) to write on these pages. I had my children dictate their sentences to me, I wrote them on a portable white board, and then they copied the words into the book. As we worked, we also reviewed sentence structure, capitalization, and punctuation.

Repeat this process for the middle of the story (center spread) and the end of the story (last two pages). The back cover can be left blank or decorated. One of my children wrote Easy Reader on the back of her book, just like the tags on their library books. This is a project that allows for a lot of creativity and imagination!

For the book’s binding, there are numerous options. You can simply tape or (with a long-reach stapler) staple the pages together. We chose to sew our pages: I punched holes every 1/2″ or so down the center fold, the kids sewed using embroidery floss and a tapestry needle. There are other options as well, consult some scrapbooking resources or come up with your (or your children’s) own ideas!

Finishing touches can now be added. Embellishments, anything from colored markers to stickers to glue-on beads and baubles, can be put on the cover. Inside, your young authors may want to add some extra color to their pages or erase guidelines (if they have written in pen or marker).

Once the story books were finished, we made a show of sitting in the living room and having each child read their book aloud, showing the pictures on each page as they read. They had so much fun making the books and were so proud of their creations, I’m not sure they even realized they were “doing school” much less exercising their fine motor skills (cutting, gluing, sewing), creative expression, organizing thoughts, grammar & punctuation, handwriting, and reading & presentation skills all in one project!