After years as a scrapbooker, notebooking homeschooler, and lapbook enthusiast, I finally decided to relax and blend all of these methods as a way to reinforce what my kids are learning in our homeschool. Now I simply call them History Smashbooks, and all of the kids love them!
Using printables from the web, drawings, timelines, free and purchased kits, and creative self-expression, each of my kids get to create a book showcasing whatever topic we are studying. (See this post to understand how we combine all ages and blend history, geography, science, literature, art and music.)
We attach most of our materials to plain white cardstock, 3-hole punched, and inserted into a 3-ring binder. I have amassed a huge collection of papers and assorted papercraft materials, so I didn’t even have to go shopping. But if you need to start a collection, here are some basics I recommend:
- cardstock in colors, white, and fun prints (Oh, the possibilities at in the scrapbook section!)
- letter and number stickers
- themed stickers
- glue sticks
- scissors and paper trimmer
- printer and ink
- binder and 3-hole punch
- markers, crayons, and/or colored pencils
- rubber stamps
- all manner of fun, collected items (paint samples, doilies, envelopes, scrabble tiles, brads, eyelets, paint, maps (old and new), pages from books, sheet music, library cards and pockets, and so on.
Going on a related field trip, or to a museum or vacation? Did you take photos of activities or projects? This IS a form of scrapbooking, so of course you’ll want to add those photos!
All of my kids do a smash book, with varying requirements. I will usually tell them what should be included on a page (basic biographical facts, etc.) and then let them be creative. (See my list of links at the bottom of this post for inspiration.) I will show them some ideas online, but it’s up to them to use their imagination. (I am thinking about doing my own when we move on to the next century. I don’t do a lot of scrapbooking lately, and I miss it. Plus I just loooooove history. So I’ll join them at the craft table soon!)
As we began our study of 1700’s world history, we spent a couple of days on Handel’s life and music. In this case, I provided a quote, a photo and basic facts about Handel, a copy of his handwritten sheet music (thanks, Google!), and my huge collection of scrapbooking supplies.
See that QR code? We created custom codes for our notebooks. This page about Bach has a code that, when scanned, takes you straight to a YouTube video with Bach music. Here’s a short video I made as a demonstration:
How to do it:
- Choose the link you want access to (a music video, documentary, online game, etc.) and copy the link.
- Go to this free QR Code Generator and paste the link, and click “Create Code.”
- When your custom code pops up on the right, simply download the JPG file or use the Windows Snipping Tool to cut and paste it into a printable document (Like Word or Publisher, etc.).
The possibilities with this are pretty much endless!
You can see that the kids get very creative with their pages. My son put clear vellum over the printed text blocks on this page:
One son used a paint swatch for his timeline of events, with strips of patterned cardstock:
How do you like this version, with the fancy invitation to the Boston Tea Party?
I find LOTS of great printables for history at Tina’s Dynamic Homeschool. And they’re FREE.
Drawing is another favorite. Meet Squanto and an American Revolutionary Soldier, both from the book Draw and Write Through History:
Another drawing, this time of Paul Revere’s famous ride, plus a printed copy of the Declaration of Independence.
Copywork for this part of history included George Washington’s Rules of Civility, in cursive.
For the older kids, there may be sheets like this one:
And sometimes there will be a hand-drawn chart or diagram that I have written on the chalkboard:
As you can see, these Smashbooks blend a little bit of everything. I didn’t even show you the coloring pages and maps that are a normal part of their books. For our method of homeschooling, the books are set up in chronological order through the century. I like the way this flows.
As I mentioned, almost anything goes in these books. Many of the ideas are just things that I thought up as we were reading together, and others were found on the web or in a book. Here are some of the places I find printables:
Sometimes you’ll find a handy list in a book you’re reading; have the kids recreate this on a page (like “events that led to the American Revolution”). Or get a timeline for just about any event, century, or person on Wikipedia or a simple Google search.
I have several Pinterest Boards with awesome links for all things notebooking: Notebooking, History Notebooking, Math Notebooks, Lapbooks, and Journals. I hope these can serve as inspiration for you and your students (of all ages)!
For our history studies, I have a board for each century (that we’ve notebooked) as well as many history topics. Lots of ideas and inspiration here.
So tell me: Do you do lapbooks, notebooking, or anything similar? Share in the comments below!
Nicki Truesdell is a 2nd-generation homeschooler and mother to 5. She loves books, freedom, history and quilts, and blogs about all of these at nickitruesdell.com. She believes that homeschooling can be relaxed and that history is fun, and both can be done with minimal cost or stress, no matter your family’s circumstances. Nicki is a member of the Texas Home Educators Advisory Board and The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Review Crew. You can also find her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.