Homeschooling: How to make a lapbook

As I've been cleaning out, I've come across a lot of old school work from the oldest four. When we first started homeschooling, I took meticulous records. Writing down every single thing we did, and keeping every single scrap of work completed. It filled binders and binders. Somewhere, oh, long about D., I stopped. The meticulousness had already gone down hill and because we live in a homeschool friendly state, I didn't really need to spend my time this way. My blog, started a bit after that became my de facto record of previous lessons. Trust me, when I say it is far more interesting to read on the blog. My older children did mock me a bit for the amount of workbook type work that I kept. Funny, they didn't find it all that interesting to look at, either. The things they liked best were the stories they wrote and the bigger projects that they did.

My favorites looking back, were some of the lapbooks we made together. I know some people think that making lapbooks is too much work to even contemplate, but I think they're kind of fun, providing you go about it in a reasonable way. We're actually going to be making lapbooks about what we've learned about birds this past year, if spring ever comes. I also do not like the premade lapbook kits, and prefer to do my own thing. (I know that surprises some of you.) With the kits, you have to learn about what they've already decided in order to make the lapbook make sense. My way, you learn about the things you are interested in, and then make the lapbook to fit that.

I may be putting the cart before the horse, some, because some of you, especially the non-homeschoolers among you who have made it this far, are still wondering what the heck a lapbook even is. I kept two of A.'s old ones from when she was little. I'll demonstrate with those, since they're handy.

This is about Ancient Egypt

and this one is about the sea and sea creatures.

Essentially, lapbooks are a way to organize what a student has learned using small booklets, pictures, and maps, mounted on file folders. The name comes from the fact that you can look at them on your lap. I didn't name them. I didn't even invent them. I invented nothing that I will show you, but merely borrowed from the people who wrote The Ultimate Lap Book Handbook combined with Dinah Zike's books, especially, Big Book of Books

I realize they don't look like much from the front, but look what they do...

This is what it looks like when you open it up. It is filled with little books that open and more flaps which unfold.

This is the red flap opened up.

That red flaps also turns like a page to reveal more underneath.

And then the purple flap lifts up.

It reveals another little book to open and look at.

Here's the blue one when first opened.

It has a flap

which lifts.

And it has another page which turns.

Just from a construction point of view, they are fun to concoct. I would say that putting all the file folders together and figuring out how to make all the little books fit inside is the part my children have also enjoyed the most. I've never quite understood why someone would purchase one all put together, because I would have rebellion on my hands if I tried that.

Now, about all those little books. For each of these lapbooks, and for the one we will be making later this school year, these were the work of a full year of school. They were made gradually. This is the key to the parent not losing all sanity. They are a little fiddly and often have a lot of writing in them, which means getting the child to write it all. This isn't usually a big deal with older children, but when they are younger, it can take a while. Let's look at some of the ones inside A.'s lapbooks.

This is a little book titled, "Ancient People". Inside are two parts that lift. Under the flap you can read about farmers and nomads, respectively.

Here's a map that marks the Nile River and the pyramids.

The sarcophagus opens and you can read about the embalming process inside.

A pop-up book shows some of the pyramids.

We read a historical fiction book and made a layered book about it.

This pocket is a house for a long time line.

In the undersea book, this three fold book tells about underwater volcanoes.

A cut-away book tells about the different parts of the shore.

This page was about a bathymetric map we made. (No, I don't remember what exactly this means anymore.)

A small book with four parts has flaps about different mollusks.

And this little two-part book tells us about univalves and bivalves, provided you can open the flaps.

The trickiest part, and it's not all that tricky, is to decide what kind of little book matches the information you have. Usually information can be divided into groups of two or three or four facts. So, that's the kind of book we would make. Once again, I did not come up with this, and sometimes I will flip through the Big Book of Books book and get some new ideas. And as you can clearly see, these do not have to be perfect, and each of my children's are very different from each other, from neatness to number of books they were able to complete to how they mounted them in the file folders.

My last recommendation is that lapbooks should be done sparingly to keep them interesting. Too much of one activity can dull the enthusiasm of even the most avid lapbook maker. I've taken to making them no more than every other year.


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