When Beth Hempton and I worked together, we loved teaching homeschool moms and private school teachers how to make a lapbook and mini-books.
The best part was always seeing some ‘traditional textbook curriculum” moms and teachers learn that hands-on projects such as mini-books and lapbooks were not only fun to make, but also educationally valuable!
What I love about lapbooks is they are a simple way to really bring your kids’ homeschool education to life, especially if your children love color, texture, and crafts.
Additionally, lapbooks give you the opportunity to integrate subjects, which according to learning research, is one of the best ways to learn.
And whenever you are using learning methods that are more effective, they save time. Saving time helps you have time to devote to other things! Homeschool more effectively and you’ll have time to get everything else done, too.
Speaking of integrating subjects. In my son’s Space lapbook, we used the following subjects:
- Science: the topic was outer space and he had to read about planets, gravity, the sun, the U.S. Space Program, and the moon.
- Language Arts: my son read a book about space and wrote a summary of it in the layered lapbook (the colored flaps)
- Language Arts: there are single flaps in the book that have space vocabulary words and phrases on the outside, then you lift up the flap to see the definitions he wrote on the inside.
- Math: he had to figure out how much he weighed on different planets and on the Earth’s moon.
- Fine Arts: he not only drew his idea of an alien (pictured above), he also had to draw our Solar System’s sun with a sunspot.
Not only do your kids learn better by integrating subjects, but you save time and money by integrating subjects and teaching your children together.
And it’s always a good idea to add a colorful and creative hands-on activity with your reading. Another benefit: graphic organizers such as lapbooks can be much less intimidating to a reluctant writer than staring at a blank page.
Lapbooks are a graphic organizer. What is a graphic organizer, anyway?
A graphic organizer, such as a lapbook, 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
- a Graphic Timeline
Take a look at other graphic organizers you can use in your homeschool.
Here’s a very simple mini-book that a kindergarten (with a little help) or 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. Cut out another piece of light-colored paper that’s the same size of the right half of the paper shown above (the right side without the cuts). Have your student write a short description of each flower ‘part’ on this separate piece of paper and then glue it onto the lapbook. (You might have to help with this part if you have a new writer.)
So what is it 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, that form 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 the front of the lapbook my son made about outer space. The base is simply made from two manilla file folders glued together (directions below).
By the way, we wrote to NASA to get some beautiful space photos (for free!) to put on the cover.
And the buy-in for my son making this lapbook was getting to draw an alien.
It’s all in the marketing, y’ know.
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, lay them open vertically 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. It’s called the “layered-look book.” Find directions in our favorite resources for making mini-books for several subjects below!
Resources with loads of ideas for mini-books!
I like the layered-look mini-books the best. I like them because they allow students to do a fair amount of writing depending upon the number of pages your book contains. And children don’t feel like they are doing so much writing because 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
- provide students an automatic review of the material contained in their lapbook, every time they look at their creation or show it to someone else
- used for studying almost any subject and easily integrate several subjects, maximizing learning
- able to entice reluctant writers because they are divided into many smaller sections and are less intimidating than one huge, blank piece of paper
- used as an assessment tool, especially when assigned with an accompanying rubric outlining what you want your student’s lapbook to contain
- 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. And in the Preparatory Unit Program Tools (for middle school), we list lapbooks and mini-books that your student could make to go along with the topics during each time period!
Other 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.
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’d like some additional ideas of how to bring your kids’ education to life (without losing control of your house), click on the link and read more.