My Science Notebook (A Mother’s Feast)

One of my favorite parts of homeschooling is learning with my children. My eldest son is working on year 7 of Ambleside Online, and one of the things we’ve started is a science journal.

One of the recent, and ongoing, additions to AO is what can be called living science. Not using (boring, over priced) textbooks written by a committee, but putting the child in touch with the best minds through books written by passionate experts in various fields. Of course, if my son was to have a science notebook, I knew I wanted one as well!

From "Asimov on Astronomy"

From “Asimov on Astronomy”

This is my first entry, from Asimov’s book on Astronomy. It is actually on the 4th page of the book, my perfectionist side feels better if the first page or two are left blank.

As you can see, my science journal is a humble graph paper composition book. I bought it for one dollar during the back to school sale. (A quick note: my son, who prefers drawing to writing, disliked the graph paper. He is now using a bound sketchbook.)

The next page is from The Mystery of the Periodic Table, and is mainly a historical entry. The science notebook is very flexible.

From "The Mystery of the Periodic Table"

From “The Mystery of the Periodic Table”

The most recent pages are from some of the books I am reading with my son this year: First Studies in Plant Life and The Wonder Book of Chemistry. The plant observations we have been doing at home: studying seeds, sprouting them and watching them grow. In my drawing are some of the plants we grew, but others I drew from the book.

From "First Studies in Plant Life"

From “First Studies in Plant Life”

The chemistry book we tend to just read, as some of the supplies in the experiments are no longer household items. A study guide is in the works, but until then we do our best, sometimes we cross-reference with a modern experiment book (or Google) to find a doable alternative.

From "The Wonder Book of Chemistry"

From “The Wonder Book of Chemistry”

I am really enjoying my science notebook. Especially since I love pen and ink drawings. The simple lessons in The Drawing Textbook have given me confidence, plus the well-drawn illustrations in the books themselves provide a jumping off point.

In many ways my science education mirrored my math education. I found the right answers and earned high grades, but I didn’t know science. I couldn’t think like a scientist. I remember in Chemistry 101 being very frustrated, because my math enabled me to ace the course, but I didn’t learn anything. I knew I was missing something, and I didn’t even have the knowledge to know what that was.

I learned the answer later on with Charlotte Mason and Andrew Kern: what I missed was observing the whole. As Charlotte would say, I lacked both the habit and the practice of observation. Kern would probably say I missed contemplating the nature of the natural world (the nature of nature …).


  1. Patty

    How often does your son make an entry in his science notebook? Is it after every science reading? Right now we are doing AO6 and I require my son to do 2-3 written narrations per week. He sometimes chooses to do one from one of his science books, but I leave it up to him.

    Sometimes I think that I should require an entry for every science reading, but I am not sure. I know that year 7 has a heavier load of readings, so I wonder if we would have enough time to do science entries for each reading and written narrations for some of the other readings.

    1. Amy Hines (Post author)

      I counted and my son has 21 entries over 15 weeks of AO. He enjoys the science journal much, much more than written narrations… That doesn’t include Signs and Seasons, which has its own notebook and we’ve done little of due to the cloudiness of winter. I’d like to see him average 2 entries per week.

  2. Jeanne

    Amy, this is magnificent!

Comments are closed.