Friday, April 17, 2009

Adventure Notebooks

These "Adventure Notebooks" are an idea to get some literacy while you're out on the road.  This idea is not homegrown, but borrowed from several articles that were read in various parenting magazines.  Do you remember those old black and white covered composition books from ages ago?  Cover one of those with two sheets of 12X12 scrapbooking paper using spray adhesive, trim away the excess and voila!  A personalized Adventure Notebook to take on the go for your little one.

To personalize the notebook further, decorate the
 outside together with a favorite photo, theme or character.  And to have a writing tool at hand, use some of the spray adhesive to glue on full side of a sandwich baggie on the back to store a few crayons. 

So what do you put in an Adventure Notebook?  Well, anything you want, really.  As an example, these notebooks are being used to track daily places that are traveled.  So each page is dated and then listed with places to go and things to acquire.  When items have been purchased or places have been visited, a notation is made in the notebook while traveling to keep us organized.  But the vision is start filling the notebooks with so much more - drawings and pictures of items from shopping lists or of what is observed out in the world or places that were visited, favorite words and sayings, maybe stamps or signings from the store, library or other errand places, pre-writing and invented spelling - can't wait to see what this can turn into! 

So what does an Adventure Notebook get you?  Well, this whole activity is not the most ingenious or creative and there are many ways to design something similar, but the idea is simple and sound and what you can get from it can only be good things.  (That is, unless, the crayon melts in your car in the sun.)
  • A chance for your preschooler to feel involved and important.  So often we are on the go-go-go and the children are bopping along the for the ride - in and out of school, in and out of stores, in and out of doctors offices, etc.  By stopping and briefly talking about the plans for the day and including your child in making a daily page for the Adventure Notebook, he or she quickly feels more important in the process.  Your child now has a project to keep track of - did we make all the right stops?  Did we get all the things on our list?  Did we see anything interesting along the way that needs to be recorded?  Who did we talk to?  
  • The opportunity to practice writing and symbols in an authentic way.  When you make your grocery or errand list and put it in your pocket, your child can see that you've been writing and that you're going to use that writing to help your remember to do things - and this is a great way to demonstrate to children one of the ways that we use literacy in our daily lives.  But these notebooks bring it one step further.  They let your child create or help create the list.  They let your child do the work and first handedly experience how this part of literacy is useful and important.
  • The chance to physically practice those pre-writing and writing skills.  No need to bring out practice books for making letters - you have the chance to do loads of practicing right here.  If your child isn't ready for writing yet, sit with him/her to make the list together.  Save those flyers from the grocery and cut pictures out of whta you're going to get to glue into the book.  Or draw the pictures.  Writing slowly and clearly, showing the relationship of some of the letters and their sounds or point out how two words start with the same letter or ask your child to help you decide the first letter of a word by listening to the beginning sound.  For those that are doing some writing, help your child with invented spelling by listening for sounds of a word and practice writing words to correspond to the visual picture.  The opportunities are endless - but don't push it.  Take cues from your child and if they aren't into it on any given day, don't force the writing or drawing - that breaks the fun of the idea as a whole.  Just try again on a different day!
  • Lots and lots of talking and chatting, too.  Because you're spending all that time together making the book, talking about activities and errands and to-do's, you're also doing lots of talking.  And talking is another awesome literacy skill to have.  
  • An activity to distract from potentially boring outings.  These Adventure Notebooks aren't going to be the cure-all for all grocery store or shopping meltdowns.  However, they have potential to help.  If your little guy is busy looking for items on his created grocery list and marking them off, that's a few extra minutes that he or she isn't pulling boxes off the shelves or rolling apples off the stack.  The lists can also help guide children through the adventure and gives them a sense of control - they will be able to see that they've been to two places and there's only one more stop left to go.   
  • A little bit of pre-math skills, too.  If you talk about sequencing ("First we'll go here, next we'll go there", etc) and talk about some numbers ("We've gone to three places.  How many are left?  I forget..."), then you're adding in pre-math skills to these literacy skills.  They really can be all tied together - it's great fun!  
Just an idea to try - an activity to do together to share a little bit of early literacy skills in an authentic, real way.  Have fun as you "adventure" together!


  1. Fab idea! I especially like the idea of cutting photos from ads and such and gluing them into the notebook. This wouldn't be difficult to do. Most of us use the sale flyers to plan our grocery lists anyway.

  2. Thank you for sharing this idea!

    I am interested in having my boys create a book such as this.

    I love all the benefits you have listed here. Very encouraging!