Lately I’ve been having my kids take their notebooks with them on field trips. This is a small thing, but it’s helped our retention for field trips and a basis for discussions later in our homeschooling.
Why we’re notebooking at the museum
For us, it’s a great way to immediately write down what we observe. It also helps to increase their observation skills in general. They really look at what we’re studying and draw what they see.
Depending on the type of assignment they’re also looking much more closely at the museum. At times I’ve had them look for a specific thing. You know the “Find this thing in the museum and write about it.” Other times, and this is the more often one, it’s open-ended. Write and draw about what you find interesting.
That’s how my kids ended up writing about cotton production in Texas. They drew the part of it that intrigued them.
It was interesting to me that they didn’t write about the trail kitchen they spent an hour playing in.
Or the geography area we spent another 45 minutes in.
It’s not as if the Williamson Museum is a big one. I rather like it because it’s small and the very hands on. The kids can happily wander around in it trying all of the exhibits out, and getting a feel for it all.
I actually went there this particular time because I remembered a KKK exhibit, and I wanted to show the kids how scary that was. They’d rotated the exhibits to something different (cotton production), so it didn’t serve it’s purpose for our history lesson, but it worked for a different lesson. Just observing what is there.
Let’s get practical about notebooking at the museum
Future Ticia here, let’s dig into this more by age-range. I was doing this way back when my kids were in kindergarten and 2nd grade. I’m still doing this now when my kids are in sixth grade, and will be doing it all the way through high school.
General rules for notebooking at the museum
- Don’t require this for every field trip or museum. Sometimes just enjoy the experience
- Have a plan for what you’re doing and why you’re taking notes. As I mentioned earlier sometimes it’s looking for specific things, sometimes it is write what interests you.
Notebooking at the museum for early elementary
- Don’t worry about length, spelling, or handwriting (it is really hard to write neatly on a clipboard)
- Make expectations clear ahead of time, I found my kids would get nervous if they didn’t know ahead of time what to write, and what I expected. This is not as true now when they are in middle school (this may be because it’s been an expectation since the beginning).
- Bring along drawing supplies. Sometimes writing is hard at this age, and they express their thoughts more clearly in pictures.
Notebooking at the museum for middle school
- Don’t be afraid to require a certain length. When we went to Colonial Williamsburg while the kids were in sixth grade I required 2-3 sentences per tradesperson.
- Start to expect them to go beyond observations and write down why this is important or how it affects other things.
- Allow them time to think through the why and what they’re learning. Sometimes you might need to force this on the kids to sit for a minute or two.
Notebooking at the museum for high school
I haven’t done this yet, so if you have, let me know your tips.