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Lapbooking

lapbooking

Spice up your learning by making lapbooks!

Lapbooking can be done by any learner-- from preschoolers to adults. With this educational method, you make mini-books covering details that you've studied. After making a variety of mini-books about a larger topic, all the books are put together in a large folder. The finished product is called a lapbook because it's large and covers your lap.

Lapbooking helps children learn what they study. Later the completed lapbook can serve as a review tool as your children refer to it over and over again. And if you have to keep a homeschool portfolio to document learning each year, lapbooks can be a very impressive addition.

Sample Lapbooks - to give you the big picture

One of the best ways to understand lapbooks is to simply see them. These links will take you to pictures of real homeschool families' lapbooks. You can get an idea of how varied and flexible lapbooking can be.

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Making the Mini-books

the heart of lapbooking

A lapbook is simply a collection of minibooks affixed on a base.

As you are studying your chosen homeschool topic, whether it be Colonial America or Penguins, use the mini-books to reinforce or narrate what was studied. In this way you can make a mini-book every day or so. Once your unit study is over, you will have a nice collection of mini-books to mount into a lapbook.

If your child is very young, you can write or type the text for him. Many children enjoy typing the text for mini-books on the computer.

If your child is artistic, have him draw the graphics. But if drawing gives your child fits, then find some nice clipart for him to paste into the mini-books. Search the Internet for images related to your topic, or use some of the great links below.

What kind of mini-book should you use? In the beginning, start small. Make some basic books with easy folds, and add your information into them. As you gain experience, you can venture out into some of the more complicated mini-books. See the links below for online directions for many types of mini-books.

For you highly visual learners, I've created a Minibook Gallery with photo examples of many styles of mini-books.

An Easy Way to Start

Tackle a mini-book rather than an entire lapbook.

So, you're interested in lapbooking but really have no idea where to start. What to do? Well, you could buy one of the kits from a retailer, or you can start small - one mini-book.

Choose one of the "easiest mini-books" below and make a few blank books. Then give them to your children to add text and images. It can be something you've studied in science or history, or it could simply be a creative story.

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Once you and you children see how easy one mini-book is, the creating will go on and on. Once you have several mini-books about one topic, affix them into a file folder or large pieces of cardstock folded into a book shape.

The Easiest Mini-books - baby steps toward lapbooking

These links are simple directions with diagrams for easy to make mini-books.

  • One Page Book
    The easiest book there is! You will be amazed that you can make a book with just one sheet of paper and a pair of scissors! Experiment with different sizes of paper or different colors.
  • Layered Book (or Graduated Book)
    Another easy book made with paper folded and stapled together. Easy but impressive. Try different colors of paper to make a rainbow book!
  • Accordion Book
    This site calls this book an unfolding book. But most people call it an accordion book. It can open it up, down, to the left or to the right. You can decide! This book is especially good for timelines, steps in a process, or a series of events.
  • Flip Flap Book
    A good mini-book standby. Vary your paper size and number of "doors" to fit your topic. GO BACK TO TOP

Directions for Making Mini-books - more options

There are a myriad of choices when it comes to mini-books. Add in colored paper in various sizes, and the options multiply!

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  • Making Books
    A short list of basic books with clear diagrams and instructions. A great place to start!
  • Making Books with Children
    Directions for projects such as Who Am I Book, Index Card Book, and Step Book.
  • Minibook Instructions for Lapbooking
    Another great place to start. This single PDF file shows seven different mini-books with clear directions and diagrams.
  • Mirkwood Designs
    This site offers templates for envelopes and cards that could be used as mini-books.
  • Pop-up Book
    Be sure to go click NEXT to go through these four pages of directions for this fabulously easy but impressive mini-book. You can cut out paper shapes of whatever you're studying and attach them inside the layer pop-up. Add a cover made of another she
  • Flag Book
    This mini-book is a bit tricky, but the effect of the finished product is worth the trouble. This pdf file offers clear instructions with diagrams.
  • Booklyn's Education Manual
    The flag book PDF above comes from this site's education plans page. For several more of this type of advanced mini-books described with clear directions, scroll down to "Lesson plans for creating artistic books." You will find accordion book, flutte
  • Donovan's Templates
    Directions for several mini-books.
  • Candle in the Window
    If you are still looking for more ideas, this is a very thorough list of links to even more mini-book directions.
  • Fanbook Template
    This is a PDF template for a three part fan book. Make as many pages as you need for your minibook. Then use a paper fastener to connect all the pages at the bottom. This book opens like a fan. Store it in a pocket in your lapbook.
  • Circle Book
    This is a PDF with directions for how to make a circle book.
  • Envelope Book
    Another PDF file with directions for using construction paper and envelopes to make a book with pockets.
  • Let's Book It
    Directions and templates (mostly in Power Point Format) for many mini-books are listed here.
  • Three Square Mini-book
    It starts really small and opens really big. It uses an origami fold called the square base -- a bit tricky, but worth the effort. GO BACK TO TOP

Making Mini-books from Online Software - for free, of course

With these online programs, you enter your data and your printer spits out a beautifully professional mini-book!

  • Read Write Think Flip Book
    This is really neat! You can design a layered book (they call it a flipbook) of up to 10 pages online and print it! Using the computer may motivate a reluctant writer!
  • ReadWriteThink: Stapleless Book
    This is an interactive tool for creating an eight-page book simply by folding and cutting. There is a front and back, so your book contents actually has six pages. You can choose the layout for each page.

Shape Books - free templates and patterns

After you see the adorable books, you'll surely want to make some of your own. Keep reading for links to shape book templates. Once you get the hang of it, you can make your own! These mini-books are shaped as different things -- boats, apples, houses, trees. Choose a shape to go along with your lapbook's theme.

  • Eduplace Shape Books
    A wonderful site for shapebooks! Patterns include barn, child, lion, mittens, shell, taxicab, treasure chest, and many more. These are PDF files and each shape has a pattern with lines and one without.
  • Preschool Express Pattern Station
    Shape book patterns for house, pumpkin, kite, fish, cat, turtle, and many more.
  • Teacher View Shape Books
    Shape book patterns for turkey, shamrock, egg, heart, top hat, and more.
  • Simple Shapes Coloring Pages
    Free printable templates for simple shapes; make many copies and staple together for a mini-book.
  • Story It
    Categories of shape book templates include animals, holidays, plants, shapes, nature, Bible, and more.
  • Shape Books
    These shape books are Microsoft Word templates that you can type over and print. GO BACK TO TOP

Graphics, Clip-art, and Maps - to decorate your lapbooks and mini-books.

We discovered a great timesaver that also makes the finished product more attractive: print your maps and images onto sticker paper. Then you can simply cut it out and stick it into the mini-book! No messy glue or tape!

  • Karen's Whimsy -- Public Domain Images
    This site has a wealth of black and white images of traditional topics -- knights, renaissance fashion, flowers, angels, Ancient Egypt, victorian era, etc.
  • World Atlas
    This is the greatest map site on the web! The choices are endless. If you need a map, you can find it here.
  • DK Images
    Full color clip-art sorted by topic -- history, science, and more.
  • Enchanted Learning
    This site has printables for almost any topic you might want to study!
  • Utopia Portrait Gallery
    A selection of portraits of historical figures. The images in this collection are in the public domain.
  • Discovery School Clip Art
    Nice gallery of clip art especially designed for educational uses. Use the search function at the top of the page to find a certain image.
  • New York Public Library Digital Gallery
    This is not a cutesy clip art site but a serious, grown-up reference tool! You will find amazing images from many old books - everything from Ellis Island immigrants to art nouveau plants to military costumes. (Search this site with parental guidance
  • Clipart - ETC
    This is the clipart database of Florida's Educational Technology Clearinghouse. It has a nice assortment of black and white images from old books. Many historical and science related images!
  • Clip Art by Phillip Martin
    Cute, cartoon style clip art images free for educational uses. Topics include Ancient Civilizations, Science, Math, Holidays, Native Americans, and Animals.
  • Sources of Free Timeline Figures
    If you're looking for images of famous people or historical events, look at these online, free timeline figures.
  • WP Clipart
    Use the search function to find free, public domain images for your lapbooking needs. (These images can be used for commercial use too!)
  • Learning and Teaching Scotland
    A wide variety of royalty-free images and photographs for education. GO BACK TO TOP

The Lapbook Base - mount all your mini-books onto a large folder

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Some people use file folders, others use posterboard or cardstock. You can use any heavy paper folded into a shutterfold.

To make a shutterfold, mark the (vertical) center of a sheet of paper lightly with pencil. Fold the outer edges into the center mark, creasing well. Voila! A shutterfold!

What if you run out of room? Add extensions to your lapbook. Attach additional pieces of cardstock to the inside top or bottom so that they can fold outwards. Or attach two shutterfolds together.

  • Folding Instructions for a Lapbook
    This site shows you clearly how to transform a file folder into the base of your lapbook.
  • Using a File Folder as a Base
    This example clearly shows how the file folder was opened and refolded so that the top edges now meet in the center.
  • A Picture of the Shutterfold
    This is an eagle lapbook that shows the basic shutterfold shape.
  • Another Double Folder
    This is a double folder -- two shutterfolds attached together to make a super big lapbook. In these examples, bright orange, legal-size file folders were used.
  • Portfolder
    In case you need another view of the double folder, here is another page with clear directions for using posterboard instead of file folders.

Evan Moor History Pockets

Evan Moor Publishers' History Pockets and Literature Pockets series are great reproducible books for lapbooking. The publisher has allowed the entire Pockets series to be viewable at Google Books. (This service is to allow you to preview before you buy. The pages cannot be copied or printed.)

For a view of some completed projects, see this Flickr set by a homeschool family.

Projects are displayed in easy-to-make paper pockets, creating a comprehensive portfolio. Or you can affix them to a lapbook base. The book jackets shown here are only a sampling of the titles available in the Pockets series.

This thorough curriculum review of History Pockets at The Curriculum Choice has lots of photos too.

Lapbooking Resources Via Email - freebies right to your inbox

These email newsletters offer consistently good resources for lapbooking -- both complete lapbook kits and clipart.

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  • Yahoo Group -- Lapbooking
    Anyone who wants to lapbook starts here! This huge group is a massive powerhouse of experienced lapbookers. People are constantly sharing freebies, great links, free downloads, etc. through this group. This group is hosted by the "Premiere Lapbook Pr
  • Yahoo Group -- Lapbooking Made Simple
    This Yahoo group about Lapbooking is sponsored by Knowledge Box Central, a retailer of lapbooking kits. It's much newer and has fewer members than the Hands of a Child Yahoo group above, but is still a resource for lapbooking tips, delivered right to
  • Yahoo Group --Love to Lapbook
    This group is for providing alphabetized links to lapbooks on a variety of topics. The links are divided into free lapbooks and retail lapbooks.
  • Yahoo Group -- Simply Lapbooks
    This is a group where the files shown on the Simply Lapbooks blog can be downloaded.
  • Dover Publications Kid's Books Sampler
    Dover publishes great eductional books! If you sign up for this newsletter, each week, you'll get a link to free downloads of puzzles, activities, clipart, coloring pages -- all pages from their books. Download, save, or print.
  • Dover Publications Sampler
    This is another Dover sampler, but it's not exclusively children's books.
  • Dover Publications Design Sampler
    This Dover sampler focuses on clipart and graphics.
  • CurrClick -- formerly Homeschool Estore
    This store sells all e-format resources. But every week, they offer a freebie! Every now and then it is a Hands of a Child complete lapbook kit! Other times it's notebooking resources that can be easily adapted for lapbooking.

Beyond Minibooks - Adding Extras to Your Lapbook

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Besides mini-books, there are many things you can put into a lapbook. Consider laminating them so that they can be used again and again. You can put them into a pocket or envelope affixed to the lapbook.

Here is a list of some possibilities:

  1. Paper dolls or puppets
  2. Jigsaw puzzles
  3. Board games
  4. Charts and graphs
  5. Mazes, Crossword Puzzles, Word Searches
  6. Flashcards
  7. Realia - real things (coins, feathers, postcards, etc.)
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  • Paper Dali -- Historic Paper Dolls
    Free black & white printable paper dolls from various historic periods -- American Revolution, Ancient Greece, Saints, Ancient Egypt, Wild West, and more.
  • Create a Graph
    A very sophisticated but easy to use online program for designing graphs with your own data! You can even save what you create in various file formats to use in other applications!
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Template
    This is a GIF image that will help you make your own jigsaw puzzle to go in your lapbook.
  • Discovery School's Puzzlemaker
    At this site you can custom design puzzles of all kinds related to your topic. The puzzles include the standbys of crossword puzzles and wordsearch puzzles, but there's more! Mazes, math square, number blocks, hidden message, and even more choices!
  • Board Games
    Here you'll find links to blank board game templates that you can use to make games for any theme of study. GO BACK TO TOP

Great Science Adventures Curriculum - for lapbooking science topics

This entire science curriculum revolves around reproducible paper crafts and mini-books. This is an ideal science curriculum for a lapbooking family! Or chose a title to supplement your existing science curriculum.

For a balanced discussion of this curriculum, see this Homeschool Library forum thread. (You do have to join the forum to read it though.)

For a thorough review, visit Eclectic Homeschool Online.

Features of Great Science Adventures:

* Multilevel teaching for K - 8

* 24 lessons, with one reproducible minibook for each

* Detailed explanation of all activities

It is suggested that you complete 2-3 lessons each week for an 8-12 week unit study.

Lapbooking is a Tool

a reminder

Remember, lapbooking is only a tool for learning. You are not studying lapbooking; you are studying weather or archaeology, for example. If the lapbook does not aid in learning important information about what you are studying, it's just busy work. So make sure that each mini-book your child makes is really something you find important for her to learn.

Of course some things you study and some of the things on your lapbook plan will not make their way into mini-books either because you ran out of time or you later decided it just didn't "work." That's okay!

Even if your lapbook has just four or five mini-books, if there was learning happening, then it's a successful lapbook.

Still have questions? Visit the Lapbooking FAQ page.

Where To Buy Lapbook Kits - if your creativity or time is short

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To read reviews of various lapbook kit retailers, visit this thread at Homeschool Share's Forum.

  • Download N Go Unit Studies by Amanda Bennett
    Amanda Bennett's Download N Go Unit Studies are one-week studies for grades K-4. They include integrated lapbooking components and are ready to use immediately. Each unit is cross-curricular, including history, geography, and science.
  • Knowledge Box Central's Lapbooks
    This site has e-book, CD-rom, or pre-printed lapbook kits for history, math, art, foreign language, even home economics, and MORE. Knowledge Box Central's Lapbook ebooks can also be purchased at CurrClick.
  • Live and Learn Press
    Another retailer of dowloadable ebook lapbook kits. Live and Learn Press's Lapbook kits can also be purchased at CurrClick.
  • Homeschool in the Woods Time Traveler History Series
    Time Traveler CDs provide more than just a lapbook kit -- these are an entire unit study. A main element of the unit study is a lapbook that you create from the printables included in the lesson plans. Amy Pak, the artist who creates the Homeschool i
  • A Journey Through Learning
    Most of these lapbooks come with a study guide so you don't need to search out the answers yourself. You'll find all sorts of topics -- holidays, science, history, and more. For a review of these lapbook kits, visit Footprints in the Butter.
  • Evan Moor's History Pockets (grades 4-6)
    These are not exactly lapbooks, but are similar and would be a good introduction to the activity. For a view of some completed projects, see this Flickr set by a homeschool family.All you need to create the pockets is included in the book. Includes t
  • Evan Moor's Literature Pockets (Primary)
    Similar to History Pockets, but the projects are about books and stories -- fables, folktales, fairy tales, and Caldecott award winners. Evan-Moor's Literature Pockets can be purchased at CurrClick in ebook format.
  • Stewardship's Unit Studies
    This site sells a title called Everything You Need to Know About Flapbooks. (Flapbooks is another name for Lapbooks.) It comes with a sample Flapbook which contains many different types of folds. The instruction booklet will take you step-by- step th
  • FIAR Fold-and-Learn©
    Five in a Row curriculum offers kits for some of the picture books in their curriculum.
  • Egg Head Academics
    A new provider of lapbook kits. Current tiles are inventions, winter olympics, and marine biology.

How do You Lapbook? - Do you buy kits or do you prefer DIY?

Books from Scholastic and Teacher Created Resources

These two well respected publishers haveepublished several reproducible books that are easily adaptable to lapbooking projects. Click on the link to explore more similar options at Amazon.

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Now That You've Finished

What to Do With the Lapbook?

Find a place to store you lapbooks where they can be accessed again and again.

We store our lapbooks on a shelf. And I've found that they get a lot of love! My daughter loves looking at them! And in that way, the learning goes on and on! She doesn't realize that she's reviewing facts that she's studied and already forgotten.

Here is my 6th grade daughter, looking back at her 1st grade Ancient Greece lapbook when our page-a-day calendar featured a Greek urn.

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Other people store their lapbooks in notebooks or binders. See how Nadene manages to store them at Practical Pages.

We have often used them as a reference when we are studying. "Hmm.. what was the order of the digestive system tract? Hey, let's look in the Human Body Lapbook; we have a diagram of it!"

My daughter also enjoys showing them to visitors. What a great way to document the learning going on in your homeschool! A lapbook is a project that your child can be proud to show off time and time again.

Leave a Comment - or a suggestion

Ernie Meyers from Duluth, GA on September 06, 2019:

This is great! One of my daughters is artistic and a visual learner. This will be great to apply! Thank you!

faithfilledchaos on January 24, 2016:

What a great post. After homeschooling for 10 years, I wish I had found this when I first started. I will be sharing with my readers. Thanks so much!

Expat Mamasita from Thailand on May 29, 2013:

I hadn't heard of lapbooking before but will definitely be trying it with my toddler.

Laura Hofman from Naperville, IL on May 29, 2013:

Interesting topic and great information here. I wasn't familiar with the term, but I have made mini books before. Now I'm inspired to make more!