I came across Textmapping several times this year


and decided to try it out as another part of teaching my middle-schooler’s how to

highlight keywords and use word banks and write her own notes from a text.

Text-mapping is an excellent technique that gives the child an overview of all the text, introduces pre-reading skills, and helps the child differentiate the text.

Basically, your child marks the textbook chapter or relevant pages which have been stuck together to form one long scroll, using highlighters to mark the scroll; they circle, underline or draw boxes around sections, headings, text, illustrations, dates and important vocabulary.

Drawing of a scroll that has been marked with highlighters and colored markers. Shows margin notes and certain key features circled, colored and otherwise marked.
  • The complete layout of a scroll gives the child an immediate overview ~ great for global learners.
  • Because of its length, the child must move along it, zoom in or out, to interact with the text ~ excellent for kinesthetic learners.
  • Marking is very physical and hands-on ~ wonderful for the tactile learner.
  • The colored markings  are very clear and everything can be seen at a glance ~ fabulous for the visual learner.
  • Scrolls and text mapping provide a better fit with the learning strengths of LD and ADD individuals ~ helps children who have learning disabilities or attention deficits.

So how did we do it?

Although I worried about the cost, I color-copied the relevant pages from our textbook and we taped them together.  I wasn’t sorry.  The colored pictures helped Miss.L “read” much of the information.  (And we used some of these illustrations in her notebook pages.)

Miss.L10 started out with a general overview and pointed out all the illustrations, pictures and main headings.

With that done, she took her highlighters and started marking out the text.

Working on the floor, which she enjoyed much more than sitting at the table, she circled the main headings in green.

Then she outlined the illustrations, photos and drawings with grey.

Next she marked the sub-headings and supporting texts with blue.

Then she  used pink and highlighted all the dates.

Finally highlighted some important key words with yellow.

It took just a few minutes.

She hopped up to get a “bird’s-eye view”.

(The book we used here is called “All About South Africa“.  It is a comprehensive reference book with loads of pictures, photographs and pages filled with interesting text. It is an excellent ‘go-to’ book for our South African curriculum “Footprints On Our Land” and the reference book covers history, geography, natural sciences, famous people, important places, trade, industries … the works!)

Did it work?


  • She could quickly find the section “Difficulties of Pioneering
  • She was able to focus on the marked area and was not distracted by anything outside the blue circled area.
  • Using a yellow highlighter she underlined the important facts in each sentence.
  • We folded up the scroll so that just her relevant page faced out and went to the table to write her notes.
  • With no fuss, she used the highlighted words, changing the word order and wrote out lovely, clear sentences!
  • She cut out and pasted the illustration on her notebooking page and was done!

I was stunned. The results were impressive!

It was fun, different, easy, simple, relevant and enjoyable!

I will definitely use this technique for the remaining section of history.

Here are my notes from the official Textmapping.org site.~ Text Mapping (my notes focus on the benefits of textmapping, and the colors used for marking non-fiction as well as fiction texts)

(As you can see in this post, this method is not the same as Mind mapping.)

Have you used Textmapping?  Please share your experiences with the readers in the comments.


A Little House Notebook

We all love the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder!

We use the free Little House lapbooks downloaded from Homeschoolshare.com for each book in the series.

This year my 12-year-old-middle-schooler-who-thinks-she’s-junior-high asked for notebook pages instead of doing a lapbook.

I could see this transition coming.  As she has matured, she readily writes lengthy and detailed narrations in her History notebook pages.

I created simple Little House notebook pages, using the question prompts from the lapbook download instructions.

Both children still cover the same work, but present it differently.

Little House Booklet with duct tape binding for easy filing

Miss K12 asked for a small booklet, so I formated it to A5 (half the size of normal print paper).

I included a new vocabulary page and I made her several blank pages for her to illustrate while I read aloud.

Here’s your free download ~ Little House on Plum Creek A5 Notebook

Little House Booklet inside

I’m delighted with her lovely, detailed narrations …

Little House booklet notebook pages

… and her beautiful drawings.

Little House booklet illustrations

My 9-year-old still loves doing lapbooks.  She feels comfortable with the small size of the minibooks.  She happily fills them and often still needs more space.

Inside the Little House Lapbook

She, too, will prefer writing her narrations in notebook pages soon.

Our combination pages are a good middle ground for this transition. We often paste minibook elements on a notebook page and it adds detail and dimension.

My youngest child still needs my help writing longer narrations.  She starts writing her own narration, and I give her correct spelling prompts when needed.  If she gets bogged down in tiny details, I encourage her to make her write short, clear sentences and make her point.

Quite often she get physically tired of writing (it is really hard work), but her brain is still full of ideas.  Rather than let it become a slog, I play scribe and she enthusiastically dictates her flow of thought.


Satisfying for both of us.

I love my children directing some of their homeschool choices.  It keeps them motivated.  The freedom and individuality are the most wonderful part of a tailor-made education!

How do you allow for preferences and differences in your homeschooling?


More History Notebook Pages

"The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth"...

Image via Wikipedia

Before I give you some new free downloads [big smile!], I would like to share a bit of my current History homeschooling journey with you:

I am re-using my Sonlight American History curriculum for my younger children, and so much has changed  since I last used the curriculum over  6 years ago …

  • The bought schedule is now my guideline rather than my task master.  I no longer stress about ticking all the boxes and keeping up with all the reading schedules.  I follow the themes rather than the schedule.
  • My attitude about teaching has matured since my early first years of homeschooling.  I do NOT focus on teaching information.  I now focus more on character training and skills development.  It does NOT matter if I don’t cover everything.  It will NOT matter if I leave things out.  My children can ALWAYS learn this information and any other time and this is not a once-off study on these themes.
  • I want them to gain an overview.  I hope that they will link classic literature and films and famous people to periods and times during American history.  Just as American families study World or Eastern Hemisphere history, we, in South Africa, need to cover American history for our world perspective.
  • In the previous year I created my own eclectic curriculum and it has given me confidence to linger where there is a spark of interest and move on when the topic does not ignite our minds or thoughts.
  • I use methods my children love – notebook pages and minibooks as well as occasional hands-on activities.
  • I have changed my core books.  My original Sonlight core book,  The Landmark History of the American People by Boorstin, was just too long and wordy and unsuitable for my children’s’ maturity and interest.  I also laid aside the textbook-type series The Story of the USA by Franklin Escher Jr.  I now use A Child’s Story of America by Christian Liberty Press.  It has a warm and conversational tone and, although rather subjective, presents most of the history and information as an overview.

So, based on our new core book, A Child’s Story of America, I have made these notebook pages:

  • a basic blank 3-block and lined page notebooking page

  • a page with 3 blank minibooks that fit inside the blocks of the notebook page

  • clip art or illustrations and headings for each theme

It is an easy for me to prepare specific notebook pages for each chapter.  The children cut out the clip art and illustrations and cut and paste these on the minibooks or the notebook page while I read the chapter aloud.  The pictures give clues and the cutting and pasting keeps their hands busy while I read.

It takes just a few minutes for my youngest to dictate her narrations while I write them for her, or about 20 minutes for her and her older sister to write their narrations.

Quick, simple and really pleasing results!

Here are the downloads ~

  • Old Times in the Colonies  – with a spinning wheel minibook and steps how to spin flax, and pictures of life on the frontier and the First Thanksgiving.

Pop over to my other history notebook pages for more free downloads!  Enjoy!


New Biography Notebook Page Templates

Surprisingly often, in our History studies, we need to write a biography.

I designed a few new Biography Notebook Pages with a separate page of minibooks that can fit in the square on each page.  My children really love to add these little minibooks to their notebook pages.

Here is your free 5 page download  ~

Biography Notebook Pages

Go ahead and print out a few and keep them ready!


Hymn Study Schedule for 2011

An early printing of Luther's hymn A Mighty Fo...

Image via Wikipedia

As I shared before in

Confessions ~ I didn’t do it all,

I didn’t do it all.

The other plan that just didn’t happen in 2010

at all …

all year …


Hymn Study

Charlotte Mason
Image via Wikipedia

Charlotte Mason suggests that,  just as you would do a monthly Artist and Composer study, children should study a hymn each month.

She said that children should~

“form the habit of listening to and reading the scriptures – the actual scriptures.  Children should be in the habit of praising God.  Sing hymns. ”  (Vol 2, pg. 142)

To start

I went to Simply Charlotte Mason and copied their Hymn Study Schedule.

I have some hymns on CDs here at home.  I believe in using what I have, so I highlighted all the hymns on the schedule that I have on my CDs.  I had 12!  That’s one hymn for each month!  (I prefer our recordings to the midi files and MP3 files online, but there are excellent YouTube videos of several hymns that you could download if you don’t have your own CDs.)


I created a Hymn Study Schedule for 2011 (the download is at the end of this post) and linked to websites that have midi files or mp3 files, background information on the authors and composers and the songs words.

I downloaded 27 pages of  FREE –Hymn Study Notebooking Pages that Jimmie created at  Jimmie’s Collage.  Jimmie gives some great ideas for hymn study.  Besides blank copywork pages, there are pages for vocabulary you find in hymns, Bible verses you find in hymns, and the meaning and etymology of the word hymn.

I highly recommend Jimmie’s Hymn Study Squidoo Lens.  Here you’ll find stacks of Hymn Study ideas, activities, CDs & book titles, other web sites and links for free hymn study downloads.

Dana at Epi Kardia shares how her family does their Hymn Study. They ~

Sheet music for the hymn

Image via Wikipedia

  1. Discuss the hymn.
  2. Discuss the author.
  3. Sing the hymn every day for a month.
  4. Additional options:
  • Assign one stanza along each week as copy work.
  • Assign one stanza each week as memorization to be recited.
  • Ask your older student to research the author and write 3-5 paragraphs about their lives and work
  • Request that your older student find Scripture pertaining to other phrases in this work mentioned above (Born of His Spirit, Washed in His blood, etc.)
  • Have your student write out this hymn in his own words.
  • After studying this hymn, have your student create her own hymn.
  • Assign your student to find a passage of Scripture and compose a melody to accompany it.


I printed out the words of each hymn (free download at the end of the post) for the girls to learn the hymns and for copywork lessons.

In order to ensure that we do our hymn study, I have purposed in my heart to keep it really simple to start.  (I tend to jump in and crush their joy with over-zealous enthusiasm!)

Gotteslob — German Catholic hymnal

Image via Wikipedia

I pray that as we sing the hymn daily during the month,

I may gently include a little extra study each week on the hymn.

It may be some copywork.

Or perhaps memorization.

Maybe they will write a short biography of the author or composer.

But I know that I will NOT do it all.


I want to gently urge my children to appreciate these hymns,

to understand them,

to recognise them,

and maybe remember some verses.

Perhaps they may even sing them.

The bonus would be some narrations on their notebook pages,

or beautiful handwritten copywork

or biography pages.

Here are some more Hymn Study Websites:

Here are my Free Downloads:

Blessings as you worship Him,

Mountains Minibooks & Notebook pages

Here are our minibooks and notebook pages for our study on


My youngest daughters are in  junior and middle school level and we enjoyed an overview study of mountains.

We looked at …

pictures of the highest mountains,

snow-capped mountains,

most important mountain ranges on each continent,

famous mountains in many countries,

mountain terms and vocabulary,

measured and compared heights of mountains in our country using our atlas,

and viewed these web sites:

An overview of mountains ~ factmonster.com

How to build a mountain ~ ehow.com

Five North American Mountain Ranges ~  worldatlas.com

Mountains around the world ~ factmonster.com

And then the girls wrote brief notes in their minibooks.

You can download our Mountains Minibook and notebook page here ~ Mountains minibook

You can visit my Geography Free Pages to see the rest of our geography topics and downloads!

New ~ Famous Musicians Biography pages!

Just to let you know –

I’ve added  Famous Musicians Biography pages

in 3 different formats to  ~

my Famous Musicians Pages.

Pop over and have a look.  Add these free Biography pages for your notebooking or composer study today! 🙂

Blessings, Nadene

Make Unusual but Simple Books

These are my favourite books to make in a jiffy and they look so unique!

The stick and elastic book:

4 pages + cover + stick + elastic

stick & elastic book assembled

  1. Assemble, fold or cut the pages to size you need.
  2. Punch in the middle of the folded side.
  3. Insert elastic from back of the book. (Make sure the elastic is as long as the space between the 2 holes you punched.)
  4. Push stick/ twig through loop in the front.
  5. Insert the other side of the elastic at the back of the other hole.
  6. Press stick/ twig through 2nd loop.  (Double loop the elastic if it is slightly too loose.)
  7. Viola! An instant fastened book!

You can use any kind of stiff  stick ~

  • a kebab stick (cut off the sharp end!)
  • a porcupine quill
  • a cute straw
  • a pencil (not to use, but for the journalism theme)
  • a strong quill feather with a shaft that is long enough not to bend where the elastic hooks over
  • a crochet hook (for a crochet pattern?)
  • a branch from a tree (as in my example for our nature walk)

The Step Book:

4 pages folded in steps + punched

4 pages + stick + elastic

8 page step book assembled

  1. Use 3 pages to create a 6-step book, or 4 pages to make an 8-step book (and more pages if you wish)
  2. Fold the middle page first so that the fold forms the first step above the bottom of that page. (see above @ step 4+5)
  3. Fold the remaining pages over this middle page so that all the steps seem equal.
  4. When the pages make equal steps, crease firmly.
  5. Hold all the pages in place with  paper clips, and open the top folds.
  6. Punch a hole at each side over the fold line.
  7. Assemble with string/ ribbon/ raffia bows on each side or
  8. Use stick and elastic to secure as above, or
  9. Simply staple all the pages together at the top.
  10. There! Your step book is ready to use!

These and other excellent ideas are found at Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord’s site Makingbooks.com.

We use these books for lapbook, for spontaneous journals, for nature walks, for games and for gifts.

How could you use them?

3D Model of Seurat’s “Bathers at Asnieres”

We really enjoyed Seurat’s first masterpiece “Bathers at Asnieres”.

Bathers at Asnieres

Following Charlotte Mason’s approach to art appreciation the girls quietly studied a print of this work and then orally narrated what they remembered in the picture.  I read a short biography and they wrote their biography on our Famous Impressionist Biography notebooking pages.

In our last Seurat study, we found real life photos depicting his “Sunday Afternoon on the Ile de la Grande Jatte” and because his composition in “Bathers” is so formal and still, we decided to make a 3D model of this painting.

We only used what we had.  We looked at the size of objects, proportion and the layout. (A quick revision lesson about the laws of perspective!)

Setting up the river, the bank, bridge and backdrop

With a little prestick, some cardboard, Lego pieces,

Lego boats and people for in the distance

a few home-made rag dolls (that the girls play with instead of Barbie’s), some pins and a lot of fiddling

Rag doll model being positioned

and this was our result!

Our 3D model of Bathers at Asnieres

It took a lot longer than we expected.  It also required much less space because it all has to fit in the camera frame.  We were all really pleased with our ‘real life’ Seurat-inspired masterpiece.

Happy with the results!

I also prepared 6 pages of outline drawings of this painting which you are welcome to download ~ Outline Bathers at Asnieres

Outline drawing of "Bathers"

Here’s some ideas of what I may do …

  • Perhaps we’ll use it to paint and use ear buds to dab paint in pointillism style …
  • Maybe we’ll colour it in and cut it up and create our own puzzle (page 2) …

Puzzle - colour the picture and cut on dotted lines

  • Or we could divide it into quarters and enlarge each to make a large mural (page 3,4,5,6) …

1st quarter

2nd quarter

3rd quarter

4th quarter

  • Perhaps we could create a collage and paste coloured paper and material on the shapes …

What other ideas do you have?

Famous Musician Biography Pages

My latest freebie ~ Biography Pages for these famous musicians :

Ludwig van Beethoven, Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, (Franz) Joseph Haydn, Wilhelm Richard Wagner, Antonio Lucio Vivaldi, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, George Frideric Handel, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Sir Edward William Elgar, Edvard Hagerup Grieg, Jean Sibelius, Joseph-Maurice Ravel

These biography pages come in 3 formats ~

Famous Musicians Biography Blank ~ A blank notepage ~ excellent to use with minibooks or art appreciation lessons

Famous Musician Biography Red_Blue ~ With red & blue lines ~ for primary/ beginner writers

Famous Musicians Biography Black Lines ~ With black lines & grey dotted lines for middle school writers

Famous Musician Biography Blank

Famous Musician Biography Red & Blue Primary Lines

Famous Musician Biography Black Lines

I designed these notebook pages to go with the Famous Musicians Wall Chart. Have you already downloaded this?

I suggest you print the complete set of biography pages and keep them in your Notebook File.  Then they are ready for your child’s composer of the month study. You could use Charlotte Mason’s free curriculum on Ambleside Online as they offer a free Composer Schedule, online radio links and suggested book titles or biographies on famous musicians.

I hope to bring you a lapbook or minibooks to complete this bundle soon. Please sign up for an email notification or put my RSS feed on your homepage! You’ll find this on my sidebar halfway down.