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Science Notebooking

Updated on June 12, 2015

Far More than Just Lab Notes

If you're new to notebooking, you'll discover that science is a great topic to begin with. Because science is so broad and lends itself to a variety of methods of expression such as charts, diagrams, paragraphs, and photos, it's perfect for notebooking. Read on for more ways to jump into science notebooking.

If you've already been using notebooking as a learning tool for science, you may find here some new printables to use or discover some ways to hone your notebooking to gain the greatest educational impact. The last thing we want is busy work for our children. Make your notebooking count by implementing sound instructional practices.

Science Notebooks are a tool for the student to organize thoughts, consider possibilities, and record observations. For the teacher or parent, the science notebook is a way to assess understanding and to create a portfolio that can serve you well in homeschool evaluations. And real scientists use laboratory notebooks regularly in their daily work.

In this photo, my daughter is drawing a diagram of the lever she just constructed. You can see her living book open in front of her. There is a lot of learning going on there.

Recording Scientific Learning in a Written Record

Science notebooking is a great introduction to the scientific logs and lab reports that professional scientists use. They can be used during three phases of learning:

  • pre-investigation -- predicting, planning, and identifying existing ideas
  • investigation -- recording observations and reflecting on them
  • post-investigation -- organizing data and evaluating predictions

Read what Eve Heaton, a public elementary school teacher, says about science notebooking. She lists many positive qualities of using notebooking along with your science curriculum. Her blog is a wealth of resources for science notebooking. I love how she makes it very, very practical and includes lots of photos.

Notebooking is extremely versatile. Anything that can physically be put into a notebook and deals with your topic is a possibility.

Here is a list of potential things to include in a science notebook:

  • biographies of famous scientists
  • interviews of adults who use science in their jobs
  • diagrams of scientific processes
  • vocabulary words with drawings or definitions
  • graphic organizers showing a scientific concept
  • sketches from field trips
  • narrations of what was read in a science book
  • lab reports of experiments
  • reviews or summaries of living science books
  • songs or poems
  • minibooks
  • charts and graphs
  • magazine or newspaper articles that relate to science
  • photographs of a science experiment or other hands-on activity (then you can throw away the actual creation)

If something isn't a standard size of paper or is hard to hole punch, you can still add it to your notebook. You can affix it to a sheet of paper or cardstock. Or you can put it into a sheet protector. Or as a last resort, you can use a zip top plastic bag. Reinforce one side with masking tape before you hole punch it. And cut a small slit from one bottom corner so the bag will lie flat instead of puffing up with air.

Sheet Protectors

We use a lot of these in our notebooking either because the item we want to put into the notebook is of an odd shape or because it's too precious to hole punch.

Examples of Pages from a Science Notebook

Sometimes showing someone is more effective than telling. So here, let me pull my daughter's science notebook down and flip through a few representative pages so you can get a better idea of what a science notebook can look like.

Here is a freebie (no longer available) from Jeannie Fulbright. On the back of the previous page, I taped a clear plastic envelope to hold a hands-on manipulative we used to demonstrate the orbit and the rotation of the earth.

I found this graphic organizer at JFeliciano's Page at Homeschool Launch.

This chart is from Eclectic Education's Page at Homeschool Launch. (It's called Planets Worksheet.)

This example shows how we incorporate minibooks into notebooking. During our study of Michael Faraday and electricity, Sprite made a shutterfold vocabulary book. We simply placed it into a sheet protector.

And here are more minibooks about levers, also stored in a sheet protector.

Here is an example of a biography page of a famous scientist. I made this notebooking page about Galileo myself. You can download the PDF at by clicking here.

This is sketch made during a field trip to a science museum.

This is a sketch that Sprite did on her own. I liked it so much that I encouraged her to add it to the space section in her notebook.

Here is an elaborate notebooking page of the three types of rocks.

These are pages from our sixth & seventh grade study of Human Anatomy and the History of Medicine.

Retail Notebooking Pages for Any Topic

I have this basic lined set and highly recommend it for its versatility.

Printable Graphic Organizers for Science

Graphic organizers are simply ways to arrange information so that relationships among ideas are represented visually. Words are used but often with the addition of lines, arrows, circles, or other images that indicate sequence, cause and effect, etc.

Try using some of these free printables to add structure to your noteboooking assignment. Often, they are less intimidating than an empty sheet of paper.

Graphic Organizers for Science - Reproducible Book

Science Graphic Organizers & Mini-Lessons (Best Practices in Action)
Science Graphic Organizers & Mini-Lessons (Best Practices in Action)
These reproducible pages are perfect for science notebooking. Photocopy what you need for a classroom or homeschool.

Drawings in a Science Notebook

When sketching actual specimens, encourage the child to draw technically and with realism rather than drawing representationally. For example, don't draw a stereotypical ladybug but draw what you actually see.

Free Notebooking Pages for Science

Another Fantastic Science Notebooking Resource - For Elementary to Middle School

Eagle's Wings Considering God's Creation (A Creative Biblical Approach to Natural Science)
Eagle's Wings Considering God's Creation (A Creative Biblical Approach to Natural Science)
This book has lots of reproducibles and worksheets that are very suitable for notebooking. It covers many fields of science and is suitable for a wide range of elementary & middle school ages. Read my full review at The Curriculum Choice. OR Check CBD for a better price for Considering God's Creation workbook.

Notebooking Success eBook - Learn How to Use Notebooking

If you like what you see about science notebooking, maybe you would like to learn about maximizing your use of this method across the board 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.

More Teaching Helps - For Science Notebooking in Elementary Years

Visit Lab Aids Institute for lots of information about science notebooking (from a classroom perspective).

Science Notebooks: Writing About Inquiry
Science Notebooks: Writing About Inquiry
A combination of research, strategies, and methods for elementary notebooking.


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