Notebooks – Resources

Please visit — Notebooks – Acquiring Habits of Intellectual Effort — if you haven’t read it yet. It contains a distillation of my thoughts on the foundational ideas from Charlotte Mason on her notebooks.  The following are simply resources and links that have been of use in our own home as we work in our notebooks – toward “acquiring habits of intellectual effort”.  {CM, Volume 5}

History Resources

Pens – We use Pigma Micron pens in various sizes for our work in our notebooks.  We use different sizes, but the older student (that would be working in the Book of Centuries) appreciates the very, very fine point of an 005 (.20 mm) point pen.  This is a great assorted size set which we like because it has a good size/fit for everyone and every need.

Book of Centuries – I have been earnestly searching for the format described by Miss Bernau for a new notebook for our Book of Centuries — bound, 2 page spread for a century, one page lined (with approximately 20 lines) and one page blank for illustrations.  After a long and seemingly futile search, a friend suggested the Cachet Fusion notebook and it fits our needs perfectly!  We’re using the 9 x 12 size, {but there is also a 7 x 10 option}.  I like the foldback option of the double coil.  The lined pages have 22 lines with a text box above the lines.  So, it isn’t perfectly as described, but I think it will work within the description.  We’ll write the century title on the first lines, use only 20 lines for our entries, and the remaining sections for chosen illustrations. Just so you can see, here are a couple of images of this notebook:




I used my Epson LW-400 Labelmaker to label each century page as a way of saving time {clear tape, black font}.  These photos show it a little shinier and more obvious than it actually is.

Science Notebook & Lab Books

I have always enjoyed how integrated and even anchored the sciences are to the regular and very thoughtful Natural History studies in a Charlotte Mason education.  Different children have kept science notebooks in different ways.  For high school sciences, my oldest daughter uses the simple composition book.


Physics Notebook

My very science-passionate son prefers the National Brand Engineering and Science Notebook. These are not cheap notebooks, but they are fantastic because one page is 10 x 10 quad ruled (great for schematics, plans, designs, drawings) and the opposite page is lined for notes from the experiment or project.

Math Notebook 

If your math student has difficulties with neatness and lining up their work in a tidy way (which results in errors of carelessness), I can’t tell you how much we have benefited from the Quad Ruled notebook for math!

Calendar of Firsts

P1090097 We’re new to this habit, but enjoying it immensely.  I have learned that to be attentive to our Calendar of Firsts, I have to have it out, open, and available at all times, and…turned to the correct date.  So, with that in mind, I cleared a small shelf near my desk for it. P1090074

I like to keep a special pen right there so that as soon as we note a first we can jot it right down.


The calendar we use was produced by one of my favorite companies, Night Owl Paper Goods. (I love supporting local companies!) So, when I saw that they produced the Calendar of Firsts based on the design and layout from Red Mountain Community School, I was intrigued.


I saw the Calendar of Firsts at a Living Education Retreat, and loved the pages: the weight and smoothness was perfect, and the covers in such a pretty birch wood.  There are 2 days to a page spread, and you’ll need to write in the months and the days.  Then, each year, add any new first as you see it and there will build a history of firsts and when they occur.


So, that’s our Calendar of Firsts, and if you’re interested, you can actually purchase it through etsy.

I do want to recommend a lovely Calendar of Firsts that my friend, Betsy at Immaculata Designs has produced and offers on her website as a free download.  I particularly love this Calendar of Firsts because of the thoughtful design and Catholic images in the calendar!  There is a beautiful Botanical image on each monthly page, and that is tied in with the liturgical year and traditions that connect the Blessed Virgin to particular flowers.  It’s quite lovely and not to be missed if you’re new to this notebook! Do let Betsy know if you’re enjoying her beautiful Catholic Calendar of Firsts!


We use a few different forms for our copybooks.  All of my children enjoy printing Notebooking Pages for their copybooks.  There are a variety of general themes, and a number of targeted themed pages, too. We also use regular composition books (like these) for copybooks.

Commonplace Book

I have several themed Commonplace books, as do my older children.  For these more lovely, and thoughtful copybooks, we prefer a book that has a little more dignity to its form.  We enjoy Moleskine notebooks (my older children prefer these).  I also have a set of Botanicals Notebooks from Rifle Co. that are so fun to write in!  And lately, I’ve really been enjoying the Martha Stewart lined journals for this type of notebook.  I love the ivory pages!


The Enquire Within or Household Book

I used to keep a Home Management Binder, and found it a useful tool, but then it became too cumbersome and unwieldy.  And then the magic of the internet with resources at your fingertips became so much more efficient a way to collect some of those ideas.  This is one of those notebooks that works better for me in a digital form, and my “Enquire Within” is in Evernote.

P1090090 I keep ideas for projects, home keeping and tending resources, and various sources of inspiration all within my Evernote Notebooks.