Unschool English Records: 20 Ideas for Evernote

I love Evernote. I think it’s A Perfect Method for Keeping Unschooling Records! You might already know this if you’ve read some of my other Evernote blog posts or watched my videos. Yes, I’ve got a lot to say on this subject!

A while ago, I promised to make some Evernote videos on each of the 6 Key Learning Areas. So far, my attempts to record screencast tutorials have failed due to technical difficulties. But today, I thought: Why not write some blog posts and include screenshots? So that’s what I’m doing.

In this post, I’m sharing 20 ideas I use to record my daughters’ learning experiences that could be labelled ‘unschool English’. It’s not an exhaustive list. I might be able to write a post called 20 More Ideas another day!

Of course, all children have different interests and therefore some of my ideas may not be relevant to yours. But you might be able to modify them to suit your family. At least I hope so!

1. Copy and paste online images of book covers.
My girls read books to themselves, I read to them, and they love to read to me.

2. Clip blurbs of novels from a site such as Amazon

3. Clip a Google map of the setting of a novel. 
It’s good to know where in the world a story is set! (Of course, these notes can also be labelled geography or HSIE.)

4. Copy and paste images of the covers of DVD adaptations of novels (and plays such as Shakespeare).

5. Copy and paste (online) still photos from movies or mini-series. 
Sometimes my girls also like to clip favourite scenes of a mini-series (from Youtube). Interviews and information about the actors can also be included.

6. Clip information from online articles about novels, plays, poems. 
We often want to know more about a novel, play or poem so we do some research.

7. Clip poems.
We like poetry!

8. Clip poetry videos from Youtube (and some poetry websites). 
We like hearing poems read out loud so we often go looking for a video version

9. Clip poetry analysis videos from Youtube.
Sometimes we don’t understand the meaning of a poem and watch a video to find out more.

10. Clip any English related information you stumble across while reading. 
We clipped the poem, To a Mouse, after finding it in one of The Martha Years books by Melissa Wiley.

11. Include drafts of any writings. 
My girls write a lot of blog posts, but writing can take many forms. They usually email their drafts to me, and then I export them from my inbox straight into a notebook.

12. Clip blog posts directly into a notebook. 
These might include creative writing, personal stories, book and movie reviews, instructions, opinions, photo stories…  Other non-blog post writings can be inserted into a notebook by copying and pasting, or scanning.

13. Scan or photograph handwritten letters. Export emails to a notebook.

14. Clip information from the Internet about words. 
We researched words related to archery after watching the BBC series, Secrets of the Castle. We’ve also researched the origin of such phrases as cloth ears after coming across them in videos.

15: Clip any DIY challenges related to English

16: Clip any Youtube videos made by children.
A video can also be uploaded from a computer. Podcasts and audio recordings can be included too. Skills used could include planning, notemaking, research, speaking, story-telling, how-to tutorials, opinions…

17: Clip a copy of borrowed books from library website

18: Scan or photograph examples of handwriting. 
Take photos of child practising handwriting, if appropriate. Gemma-Rose resisted learning how to write cursively for a long time. Then, all of a sudden, she started practising without any encouragement from me.

19: Clip articles about grammar and punctuation when these things are discussed.

20. Clip screenshots from NaNoWriMo accounts if your child likes to write novels. 
My girls do!

So that’s my first 20 Unschool English ideas. I hope a few of them are useful!



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  1. Reply

    Thanks for this!
    I am using Evernote very tentatively after your suggestion.
    We are still early days homeschooling, but it is proving to be a wonderful resource!
    Jazzy Jack

    1. Reply

      Jazzy Jack,

      I'm so glad you are finding Evernote to be a useful resource. The more I use it, the more I see the possibilities. I've been thinking about you. I hope you are enjoying homeschooling!

  2. Reply

    Love your list! Great ideas! My kids are younger (7 and 5). I use our local public library's website to track books they read (together, aloud or individually for my eldest) to keep records in Evernote. We get many books from the library, and the website a summary of the book and it's ISBN number in case the authorities want to investigate further. A photo of the book cover is often included as well. Then I can supplement with any discussion points about the book, such as vocabulary words, literary devices, table of contents/index use, etc.

    1. Reply


      Your library website sounds like a good source of information for your records book. A summary and book cover? That would save you having to find those yourself. Discussion points? Oh yes! A great idea. I also jot down a few notes whenever we have a discussion about a book. I'll have to include that idea in my second list of 20. Your comment has sparked off some more thinking. Thank you!

    2. Reply

      Sue, THANK YOU for all you've done to help me understand and utilize Evernote for my record keeping! Our supervising teacher loved the digital format and was impressed. My format was heavily inspired by you.

    3. Reply


      I'm so pleased your supervising teacher was impressed by Evernote. That's wonderful news! It's good to share ideas and help each other get through the registration process. When that's done, we can get on with the main event: enjoying unschooling! I'm glad my posts were a help!

  3. Reply

    Why have I never thought to clip the books we have checked out from the library to Evernote?!? I've often wished my library's system would keep track of what I have cheked out in the past, but this would be a solution for that. So helpful!

    Maybe you have addressed this in another blog post about using Evernote for recordkeeping, but how often do you update Evernote? Do you always make all updates directly to Evernote, or do you still keep some paper lists/notes and then transfer or type them into Evernote later? I don't think I have a good habit or routine down of making my notes / records into Evernote and then I don't capture all the learning that is actually happening. Thanks for doing these blog posts, they are really helpful.

    1. Reply


      I find clipping our library check-outs useful, not only for registration records, but also for finding the books again when it's time to take them back! I read out the list, one book at a time, and my girls go off to search for them.

      I update Evernote every day. I'd forget what my girls did if I left it any longer, and it would also become a huge task. I don't make paper notes first because this makes more work. If we're doing anything online such as watching a Youtube video, I'll clip the link straight into the appropriate notebook as soon as the video ends. I try to do as much as possible as the learning occurs rather than wait until later.

      If I take photos, they automatically upload into my Dropbox and then I transfer them as soon as possible. I might do a bit of record keeping while I'm having a cup of coffee. A few minutes here and there keeps my records up-too-date. I know some people add notes and photos via their smart phones at odd moments in the day. (I only have a old fashioned phone without a camera!)

      Once you get into the habit of making quick notes here and there, record keeping isn't a big job at all. At the end of the day, before I close down my computer, I check my notes and do any final updates. This only takes a minute or two. If we've been out for the day, this is the time I'll add photos or a few notes about our away-from-home activities.

      I'm always happy to help. I've got a few more Evernote posts in the thinking stage. I'll write them as soon as I get a free minute.

      Thank you so much for stopping by!

  4. Reply

    I love this! I think that my daughter would love to use evernote as a type of journaling. She is just 6, so this would be a helpful tool to see her improvement.
    I just came upon your blog in the last couple days and I want to tell you that I love learning about your family and experiences with unschooling.

    1. Reply


      Evernote is a wonderful tool. We all enjoy adding things to our notebooks. It's a good way to keep track of info we want to remember, track progress, and it also allows us to put together a journal of our lives.

      I'm glad you stopped to comment. Thank you! Maybe we will chat again another day. Please feel welcome to stop by anytime!

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