Social Studies Notebooking-Freebie

Do you use "Notebooking"?

Several years ago, I was “nominated” ~ ‘cause no one else wanted to do it ~ to be a part of the Teaching American History Grant that had been received by my district.  I reluctantly agreed to be the representative for our school.

Man am I glad that I did.  I have been attending in-services for the last three years.  The in-services are intended to teach us the content so that we can, with confidence, teach the content.  I’ve learned so much history in the last three years that I feel like I could run a history museum…ok, not really.  Still.

During each set of in-services (three days in the fall, one day in February and a week in the summer) there are three professionals who come to teach us.  One of the three instructors is a master teacher who teaches us how to apply what we have learned to lessons for our classroom.

Two years ago, I learned about notebooking.  I know a lot of you are familiar with notebooking, so I will just give a quick summary to those of you who don’t know about it.

The idea behind notebooking is that the student has notes/study guides/ etc. on one side of the notebook and the other side has the response to the learning.  The right side is for the notes and the left side is for the “creative response”. 

What I love about using this method is that the students have OWNERSHIP in his/her learning.  In the year and a half that I have been teaching with this method, NOT ONE student has lost his/her notebook (I probably just jinxed myself). 

At the beginning of the year we spent the first few days creating our notebook.  Each student decorated his/her notebook’s cover.  I live close to the South Carolina/Georgia border so I went to both welcome centers and gathered up brochures that directly related to my standards. 

Notice the Native Americans on this student’s notebook (Standard).

I covered each notebook with clear contact paper so that it would hold up all year long.  (It does).

Then, we set up our "Table of Contents" page.  Just like any other book, this is set up for the student to again, have OWNERSHIP in his/her notebook.  On the left side you see the notebook requirements that I have established so that I can grade their notebook at the end of each chapter (gotta get those grades...geesh).  You can download it from my TpT store here.

At the beginning of each chapter, I have the students create a title page.  The students will later go back to this title page to illustrate what they have learned.

For each lesson, I have the students complete the study guide with me.  I usually use the CLOZE method, but not always.

The next day, the students complete what I call their “Left Side Activity”.  This is where it gets fun!

If you haven’t heard of foldables, this is where it comes in.  Check out A Teacher's Treasure to read more about foldables.  This post explains it all :) 
Here are some examples:

I highly recommend the book by Dinah Zike, Notebook Foldables.  
It helps guide you to the right foldable for the right lesson. 
I don't always use foldables.  Sometimes, I have a map (high on the standard's list).

The teachers at my school do a great job collaborating and finding "left side activities".   I have to give credit to a super teacher in my school, Mrs. Eberhard, for many of the left side activities that I use. 

This year, I added a new component:
This is where they store their vocabulary flashcards!  No more lost cards…yay!

Everything in one place.  Can’t. Beat. That!

Do you use notebooking?  What resources do you use to find activities for the “creative response”?

One more tiny note: 45!  Yay!  Maybe by the weekend, I will be able to have my giveaway.  Just in time for Valentine's Day...

This (or one similar since I've sold THIS one) could be yours.  Ain't it gaudy and great?

See tomorrow's post for the details and a chance to win.


  1. I want to start Notebooking next year. I am going to pin your post so I can find it next summer! :)

    Adventure of a Third Grade Teacher

  2. Thanks, Amber! It's really such a great way to stay organized (Maybe I need to apply that to my overall classroom and be more "clutter-free"! Lord help!

  3. I am lucky enough to live only 25 minutes away from the Dinah Zike Academy!!! We also had one of her curriculum directors in my grad classes this past semester and her and I talked about notebooking every time we had class. I use notebooks with my kiddos and just love it! I wish more people on my campus would buy in to it because the kids love it. I really think they get so much more out of it because the important information is chunked together!

    Miss Klohn
    Adventures of a 6th Grade Teacher

  4. I love the "notebooking" idea! I was looking around online this past year and actually just decided to dive in and give it a try and we loved it! This spring semester I tried the notebook with a few different content areas in my 6th grade classes. Some subjects were definitely more user friendly than others. The trouble I find is with social studies, where we work more on taking notes. Has anyone found any helpful resources for social studies. Definitely a fun class, but I'd like to find a more effective way to incorporate the notebooks....some students just cant organize their notes on the one side of the page....any suggestions?


  5. So my dear.... I was playing on Pinterest tonight and saw your notebook pinned. I went to check out the source and was delighted to find it was YOU!!!! I love your notebook! It's fabulous! It's exactly what we do with our interactive student notebooks!!!!! And then I noticed the shout out :) thanks friend!

    1. Hey! How cool is that? Thanks for telling me this tonight. It put a ray of sunshine on a rather gloomy and sad week. (Co-worker got a new job and my baby "graduated" from 5th and both are leaving me... boo hoo.)

      Thanks, Mor!

  6. I can't wait to utilize this next year! Thank you for the TPT download too! You rock!!!

  7. Just found your wonderful note booking idea while searching for Social Studies. Love this way of teaching SS. I just learned that I will be teaching SS as well as all components of ELA.

  8. I love the idea of notebooking. Is there a website or book that you could recommend for it? THanks!

  9. This is my 3rd year teaching using notebooking and I love it. I am also a teacher is SC and was/am a part of the teaching american history grant in the lakelands. I love you sight and have enjoyed seeing some great notebooking and ideas going on in the school. GREAT job!!! We should talk some time and share ideas. I am ALWAYS up for new and fresh ideas!