Make a Lapbook!
Beth Hempton and I love doing workshops on graphic organizers for homeschooling support groups and teachers’ workshops. And we especially love teaching old and new friends how to make lapbooks and mini-books.
The best part is seeing some ‘traditional textbook curriculum” moms and teachers learn that hands-on projects such as mini-books and lapbooks were not only educational but also fun!
It’s never a bad thing to spice up book work with a colorful and creative hands-on activity. And graphic organizers such as lapbooks can be much less intimidating to a reluctant writer than staring at a blank page.
What is a graphic organizer, anyway?
A graphic organizer is any tool that allows your student to organize his thoughts and record what he’s learned in a visual way.
Examples of common graphic organizers include:
- Charts and Graphs
- Venn Diagrams
- Scrapbooks, Lapbooks and Mini-books
- Library Pockets and Envelopes
We made two different types of mini-books at our last workshop – an accordion book and a layered-look book.
When we do these workshops, we always show examples of mini-books and lapbooks that have been made by our children as well as other students we have taught.
For example, here is a very simple mini-book that an elementary student can make.
Make a flower parts mini-book/lapbook
Directions for making a Flower Parts Mini-book/lapbook:
1. Using one single piece of 8 1/2 x 11-inch colored paper, hold the base piece of paper vertically, then fold it in half lengthwise.
2. Out of contrasting paper colors, construct a simple flower clearly showing the petals, leaves, stem, and roots, as shown in the picture on the far left.
3. After gluing the flower to the top half of the folded paper, cut through the flower and the top half of the paper, to the fold. Make three cuts so that the flower, leaves, stem, and roots each have their own section.
4. On the inside of the flaps, label each section, as shown.
5. Have your student write a short description of each flower ‘part’ on a separate piece of paper the same size as the one on the lapbook. Have him copy the description opposite each label.
So what is and how do you make a lapbook?
A lapbook is an innovative, visual, creative, kinesthetic, way to organize information. It’s a place to put a group of mini-books, usually on one topic. And it’s constructed of two or more manila folders, glued or stapled together, forming various flaps and “pages.”
These pages and flaps can house mini-books, photos, drawings, vocabulary words, maps and more. Anything you can think of, actually.
Here’s a lapbook my son made about space. The base is simply made from two file folders glued together (directions below).
For the cover, we wrote to NASA to procure some gorgeous, professional photos pertaining to space.
The buy-in for my son was getting to draw an alien.
It’s all in the marketing.
You can see his alien in the photo at the top of this post. =D
Directions for making the lapbook base:
1. Take two file folders, laying vertically open on the table in front of you.
2. One at a time, take the outside edges of each file folder and fold them in towards the center fold. Crease well, then let them open again.
3. Glue together the sides of each folder that are next to each other (that you just folded toward the middle). Voila! That is all there is to it – you can make lapbooks bigger by gluing on more folders or attaching additional flaps inside.
Below you can see what it looks like opened up.
As you can see, inside the lapbook there is space for vocabulary, illustrations, charts, book reports, clip art and anything else your study includes.
The multicolored mini-book you can see on the left hand side is a favorite of ours, the “layered-look book.” Find directions in our favorite resources for making mini-books for several subjects below!
I like the layered-look mini-books the best. Because they allow students to do a fair amount of writing, depending upon the number of pages it contains. And because of the layout, children don’t feel like they are doing so much writing. They just do a little at a time.
So it’s much less intimidating than that big blank sheet of paper because it’s divided into many small sections.
Additional benefits of making lapbooks
- hands-on and visual, maximizing other learning modes
- give students an automatic and painless review of the material contained in their lapbook, every time they look at their creation or show it to someone else
- can be used for studying almost any subject and easily integrate several subjects, maximizing learning
- are great at enticing reluctant writers because they are divided into many smaller sections
- can also be used as an assessment tool, especially when assigned with an accompanying rubric outlining what is to be included in the lapbook
- can be used for all ages, kindergarten through high school
Because of the many benefits, at every grade level and in all of our curriculum, we use mini-books, lapbooks, and other graphic organizers.
Online Resources for Mini-books and Lapbooks
Here’s a resource list for mini-book and lapbook resources including instructions, ideas, and even free lapbooks:
- This is one of our favorite original sites with great instruction and ideas. Check out their blog as well.
- This has an array of lapbook information for all ages. In fact, at The Homeschool Lounge (highly recommended!) you can join a group of homeschooling moms who share lapbook ideas and resources.
And for those of you who want to incorporate notebooking and scrapbooking into your homeschooling (or you like to scrapbook yourself):
Even if you use a traditional curriculum, please give your students a chance to do something hands-on, colorful and creative! Enjoy!
P.S. If you have a reluctant writer or two at your house, in addition to trying mini-books, you might find our reluctant writer series helpful. See Reluctant Writers – Part 1 The Early Years, Reluctant Writers – Part 2 The Middle Years and Reluctant Writers – Part 3 High School and Beyond.