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Are you looking for a fun way to give your child control of part of their learning as well as incorporate some creativity into their work? Are you looking for a way to provide an exciting enhancement to their children’s education without a lot of cost? If so, have you tried lapbooking? Most kids love a hands-on approach to learning and parents and kids alike love the finished product.

A lapbook is a cool hands-on method of teaching your child about ANYTHING! Think of it as homeschooling meets scrapbooking. Personally, the best part – there are no “right ways” or “wrong ways” to create a lapbook. It can be in any format and on any topic.

But, what exactly is a lapbook, and how in the world do you do all that fancy cutting and folding? A lapbook is simply a file folder that contains a variety of mini books, foldables and other materials that cover detailed information about the lapbook’s central topic. The concept is similar to notebooks; however, a lot more fun! Lapbook can contain diagrams, timelines, charts, maps, and other paper manipulatives customized to emphasize the subject of the lapbook. Personally, I love them because my daughter took control of her learning and was totally engaged when creating a lapbook. To put it simply, what goes into a lapbook is entirely up to you and the learner. How much fun is that! A lapbook might accompany a unit study, a novel you are reading or serve as a portfolio.

One of my daughter’s lapbooks – Astronomy

Lapbooking can be done at any age with any subject. Topics can range from Horses to Shakespeare… from the Solar System to The Civil War. You might opt to do a lapbook on Little House on the Prairie or a lapbook on Harry Potter. Lapbooks can focus on a specific topic, such as the rainforest, or serve as a reference took for various skills like basic grammar facts or punctuation rules. You might wish to make a series of lapbooks about great artists, covering one lapbook per artists. Students can make a lapbook to help them learn a foreign language with mini-books about vocabulary.

It really isn’t as complicated as it sounds, which is the beauty of Lapbooking. Once you get the hang of it, you will find yourself thinking about everything around you in terms of Lapbooking!

Shakespearean Theatre

You might be asking – what are the benefits of Lapbooking? First and foremost, Lapbooking is a fantastic hands-on educational tool. The lapbook itself is highly interactive – from creation to the finished product. Each component of the lapbook has given the learner an opportunity to concentrate on a specific aspect of the greater topic. Students take control of the information put into the lapbook solidify content information into their brain. When a student is active in the creation of a lapbook, the information sticks with them!

Beyond the educational benefit, a lapbook is a treasure. Each lapbook is an original creation that will be treasured for years to come. My daughter (now 22), used to review her lapbooks as if they were a wonderful novel, frequently. She used to have them in bed with her when she settled in for the night, and played with the foldables, reading, touching and reliving the memories of making the lapbook. Without her realizing, she was reviewing all the content information she put into her lapbook.

I remember going out with her to Michael’s Craft Stores and her wandering through aisles looking for stickers that she would use for future lapbooks. On her own, she would look up coloring pages and choose topics to create lapbooks on because SHE was excited. This provided her with total ownership of her learning. We developed lapbooks based on what she wanted to learn. With multiple children, each student can be working on their own lapbook with different themes OR you can have them each create their own on one family unit study you are working on together.

In our house, we had “lapbook” days where, once math was completed, we spent the rest of the morning doing lapbook. At the time, my daughter did not realize that she was researching, writing, working on geography, maps, graphs, vocabulary and even art skills all within the confines of a lapbook. Truly, she thought she was “playing”. Isn’t that the best kind of learning?

There is no right way or wrong way to lapbook. You do not have to be a super-creative, scrapbooking kind of parent. The best way to begin is to dig right in. Grab some colored cardstock and begin folding little books. If you go onto YouTube, you can find hundreds of videos of parents and students folding little lapbooking mini-books. But – please remember – there is no right or wrong to lapbooks. You do not have to follow other people’s directions.

I remember one day that my daughter came out of her bedroom so proud of herself. She must have been eight years old and we had done a few lapbooks together. She created her own lapbook with the theme of horses and the entire lapbook was stapled together because that was easiest for her. She took ownership of her own learning and created her own personal treasure!

I am sure you are asking yourself:

  • How much is this going to cost me?
  • What supplies might I need to get started?

Honestly, lapbooking is both inexpensive and simple. You do need to buy colored file folders and colored cardstock. You can get these at any office supply store (or if you prefer order them from a homeschooling supply company or even a teacher supply store. Then, you need gel pens, markers and/or colored pencils, which most people have at home. Finally, clear mailing tape and, I loved having my long-armed stapler. If you choose to embellish your lapbook – stickers are always fun. Really – that is all you need. There are dozens of fantastic resources online available. I wish I was lapbooking now – even with the internet the way it is  – because there are hundreds of ideas at your fingertips to get inspiration from.

Once you get the hang of the basic lapbook you can let your imagination soar!

Eva Goldstein-Meola, is not only co-founder of Open Tent Academy, but an instructor as well as a former homeschooling mother. She has lived in New Jersey, Florida, Western Massachusetts, Northern Virginia and now resides just outside of Jerusalem. Eva holds a Master’s Degree as a Consulting Teacher of Reading and Writing, IEW certification and a Bachelor’s Degree as an Elementary Teacher. She has also been involved in education since 1986 as a Private Tutor, Teacher, Reading Specialist, Homeschooling Mother, Homeschooling Teacher and Business Owner of an Online Education Consortium.

In addition to teaching, Eva enjoys cooking, baking, playing Settlers of Catan, traveling with her husband Jonathan, Broadway Musicals and reading. Eva teaches a variety of literature and IEW writing courses for Open Tent Academy.

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