Lapbooking: A How-To Guide
If you have followed my Biome study posts, you may have looked at the lapbook pages. (If not click HERE to see them.) I used to look at lapbooks other people made and be overwhelmed at the thought of making my own. Instead, I downloaded free or inexpensive pre-made lapbooks. Eventually, I gained the confidence to start from scratch and discovered that it was not as difficult as I had once thought.
What is a lapbook?
A lapbook is a scrapbook of things you and your kids have learned. It can be anything. Most lapbooks are made up of “mini book” pieces, each piece covering a different concept or idea. You then glue the mini books into a file folder, onto card stock in a binder, or into a spiral notebook.
The idea is that you teach something, your kids make the mini books, then look at them again as they continue adding to the larger book. It gets them involved with the information three or more times. The more times they see the information, the better they remember it. Lapbooks are a great way to get things into their long-term memory. Plus, if you are in a state that requires a portfolio, they make a fun addition to the record of your school year.
Where Can I Get Premade Lapbooks?
Two of my favorite sites for finding these lapbooks are:
Homeschool Share – lots of free lapbooks on all subjects, and free templates for making your own book.
Currclick – lapbooks to purchase, including Knowledge Box lapbooks. I love the quality of Knowledge Box lapbooks, but the price prohibits me from purchasing many; I have caught a few that I really wanted when they were on sale at Currclick.
Some of the premade lapbooks give all of the information you need to teach a full unit study (I have purchased this Oklahoma State History study from Knowledge Box), some are made to follow a certain book (like this lapbook for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz), and sometimes they require research to fill in the blanks (this Frog lapbook is cute and fun, but it will require some research). Often, the book we found did not have all the information the lapbook wanted. I wanted lapbooks to go with what we were learning and the books we used. I just did not know where to start.
I made my first lapbook for Lilly when she was 3. Aidan was studying The Story of the World Volume 1 for history, and we were making an amazing lapbook I found online (you can download it here.) Lilly wanted to make a book. She was studying a letter a week. On Friday when Aidan did his history lapbook page, we made a letter page for hers as well. I went to Homeschool Share and picked a template, printed it and while Lilly colored on it, I found clip art pictures in Microsoft Office. We printed pictures of objects beginning with our letter for that week’s and put them in the template. Easy! I can do this!
When I started with my Map Skills lap book, I knew I needed something different. I had 12 students and I did not want multiple pages to hand out to each child. I needed each minibook on one sheet of paper. I had to design it all for that to work. It was about this time that I discovered Google Docs and all it could do. The drawing tool became my best friend!
I knew enough about basic mini-book parts to start with a few interesting pieces. Below are a few “how to” images for my favorites. (Click on the picture to see a larger image, or on the name of the piece for a downloadable version.)
Hot Dog Book:
Flap Books and Fold-in Books:
For pictures and diagrams you can draw in Paint, search the web for a picture that serves your purpose, have the kids search through magazines, or have your kids draw a picture! The idea is to reinforce what you are studying. Do whatever will help cement things into your kids’ heads.
Get creative and make your own types of mini-books. You can do anything! Start by looking at what other people have created, or the templates on Homeschool Share, and then start making your own designs.
Now, if you really like things neat and you want your hard work to look pretty – make your own lapbook! Again, if you have looked at the Biome posts, you see the neat and pretty books. Here is a big secret: I put that together, my kids’ books look nothing like that! Below you see two versions of the same book (our Map Skills Lapbook):
My son’s looks nothing like my vision for the book. That is okay! He still learned, he had fun, and we have a record of what was learned.
If the thought of designing a lapbook still overwhelms you, make your kids do it. Print a few blank templates, hand one to your child, tell him/her what information you want to see, and let them be creative!
Cheryl–Cheryl is a singing, dancing, baking, homeschooling mom of three. She has danced her whole life and taught ballet and theatre for most of her adult life. Her favorite pastime has always been cooking and baking, and as a Pampered Chef Independent Consultant she gets to share that love with others. Home educating her three children has been and continues to be one of her greatest learning experiences! It is an adventure she is ready to continue.