Monday, January 21, 2013

What the heck is a lapbook?

I've seen so many questions lately about lapbooks. What are they? How do you do them? What are the best places to get lapbooks? Are my kids to young or old to do lapbooks? The list really goes on. Never fear! I've not only asked these questions myself, I'm hear today to help answered some of the most common questions about lapbooks, as well as some advice and resources.

What is a lapbook?

A lap book, lapbook, layer book, flap book, or shutter book is a type of single-subject book created by a student, generally as a supplement to a curriculum.

A lap book generally consists of a paperboard folder such as a file folder with small pieces of folded paper glued inside. These folded papers may contain facts, diagrams, illustrations, etc. related to the subject. Lap books can be adapted for any subject and grade level. Teachers and parents who use lap books with students say that they enhance creativity and critical thinking while integrating subjects such as science, language, history, geography, and mathematics, depending on the subject of the lap book. ~ Wikipedia

In short, a lapbook is a review of a book you've read or a topic you've studied.

Where do I start?

Lapbooks can look very intimidating to someone who has never completed one. First of all, breath! Lapbooking is VERY easy as there are no rights or wrongs to it!!

First, find a book or topic of interest. You can search sites such as Homeschool Share, Hands of a Child, or Google with the name of a book or topic and lapbook (human body lapbook, Charlotte's Web labook). 

Next, you need to gather your materials

View ALL the pages of the lapbook BEFORE printing. Otherwise, you may end up with 40 pages you plan not to use. Some lapbooks are created for a wide age range and therefore what works for a 4th grader won't necessarily work for a 1st grader. Write down what pages you want to use and then print just those pages. 

Now for the fun! Read your book or study your topic you picked. Follow the directions on each page you printed and cut everything out. Complete all the questions, color all the pictures, do all your writing and staple or use your brass brads. Next, get your manilla file folder out and decide how you want to piece your lapbook together. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to do this. Before you cut your folders, lay the pieces from lapbook that you printed and cut out so you can move things around and decide how you want it to look. Once you have everything the way you want it cut your folders and then begin piecing you lapbook together.

Is my child to young or old for lapbooks?

In my opinion, NO! I've done lapbooks with children from pre-school to high school. It's all about finding the right lapbook. There are TONS of free lapbook resources at the end of your fingertips. You can even create your own lapbooks.

Adapting lapbooks for multiple ages?

It really is easier than you think. Most lapbooks are for a wide age range, and therefore what appeals or is suitable for a pre-schooler will not be so for a 2nd grader, or vice versa. I ALWAYS view the entire lapbooks file before printing. I sit down with a pad of paper and pencil writing my kids names down that will be working on the lapbook and what pages I need to print for them. Then I print, get my manilla file folders out and do a rough layout to see what all I have. Is there enough for each child for a good review of the lesson? If there is not I will search other sites for lapbooks on the same book/topic. If by some odd chance I still can't find what I am looking for, I will turn to Homeschool Share for their blank lapbook templates.

Do you focus on just your lapbook, or 
do you do other lessons as well?

It really depends. Age as well as depth and subjects covered should be taken into consideration. Did you cover at least the 3 R's? Reading, Writing, Arithmetic. Is your child able to stay focused and not get burnt out by doing more? How much time did you spend working on your lapbook today? Did you complete your lapbook?

If you have only covered one subject and worked for an hour or two then I would do additional studies. I have a few workbooks that I picked up for Yang from Dollar Tree - math, writing and reading comprehension. We do at least one page everyday regardless of what other work we do. We also practice sight words and do a fluency reader everyday. So once we've done our daily things and worked on our lapbook if there is still time and no one is burnt out we will do more.

Chapter Books

Chapter books can be daunting when it comes to lapbooking but really it's not. Just as with reading, break it down into smaller portions. If you are using a pre-made lapbook, read chapter one and then complete any portions of that lappbook that go with that chapter. If your children is older, or has a good memory you could read a few chapters before working on the lapbook portions.

When I decided to do this post I asked others questions or advice they had about lapbook. Here is one I received about chapter books:

·         For Charlotte’s Web my daughter has made a mini book that looks like a house and wrote about how Wilbur slept next to the stove. A mini book that looked like a bottle and wrote about how Fern took care of Wilbur. Then the next chapter she made a barn and summarized events in chapter two, plus she made a mini book that is tracking the main characters in each chapter, and the setting of each chapter. So unlike science where we wait till we are done with our lessons and use it as review, literature lapbooks are done with specific chapter pieces after each chapter is read.

·         Are most lapbooks done after a unit study?

Since lapbooks are a great way to go back and review a book/topic later, you most certainly can follow up a unit study with a lapbook. Most unit studies are setup so that you can turn it into a lapbook, and some even have a pre-made lapbook that goes right along with the unit study.

How much planning is involved?

There is actually very little planning. You need to check and make sure you have all of your needed materials on hand and gather any books or websites you will be using. 

Can lapbooks cover multiple subjects?
Yes, in fact there are many lapbooks that will have extensions to them that cover other subjects.

Last month I did a lapbook with Poppy, Yang & my two of my best friends kids on Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett that I got from Homeschool Share. We covered math that was in the lapbook, social studies when we discussed the difference in how we live today and how life was in the book. Geography - we talked about the origin of gingerbread. Writing - the older comes had to come up with their own gingerbread tale while Yang did copy work. Math & Science with measuring and baking gingerbread cookies.

Where so you store your lapbooks?

Hubby bought me a color coded (right up my OCD ally) 12 drawer caddy for Christmas. On the right there are 4 sets of 2 drawers per color. One the left there is a smaller width wise, but taller drawer that matches the color from the right. I have each drawer labeled and the colors go together. White is my lapbook section. I have my manilla file folders in my bottom drawer, completed lapbooks in the top drawer and the drawer to the left holds glue sticks, scissors, pens, pencils, colored pencils, box of crayons, single hole punch, brass brads and packing tape. 

Do you still have questions about labooks? Resources to share or suggestions? Comment below.

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  1. Love the color coded caddy.....where did he find it?:-)

  2. He said he ordered from a mail order catalog. He doesn't remember if it was Ginny's or Seventh Ave. I think it was Ginny's. I was worried that the drawers would be flimsy when I seen them (they do not come assembled) but they are actually quite durable.

  3. That's a nice setup, the caddy! Hmm...

    We love lapbooks. The only problem is trying to get them done - but they are so easy. A book a day or even week. We actually made on about spiders and we made one on emotions to help him learn those. They're one of our favorite things! Great post!

    1. Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed the post. :)