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What are lapbooks? And what are they good for? {Season 11, Episode 125}

Lapbooks are educational scrapbooks that fit into the lap of a student. Want to know more? Listen to episode 125 of the Tips for Homeschool Science Show.

Welcome to season eleven of the Tips for Homeschool Science Show, where we’re breaking down the lofty ideals of writing and science into building blocks you can use in your homeschool.

In this episode, we are chatting about lapbooks!

Key Takeaway

  • Lapbooks are educational scrapbooks that fit into the lap of a student.

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Episode 125 - What are lapbooks?

Last week, we chatted about our favorite method for writing in science—notebooking! We also chatted about its two components—the material words and the visual pictures. Normally when one thinks of notebooking, we think of full sheets of paper with a picture in the corner and a bunch of lines or blank areas for the student to write their narration on. But this can be super overwhelming for some students.

I also shared why I prefer to use notebooking as our writing method of choice in our last episode. I love notebooking because it doesn’t just require the regurgitation of facts like a comprehension worksheet does, it asks the student to interact with the materials. We really don’t want our students to miss out on these benefits.

The great news is that we can record these “interactions” on full notebook pages or in lapbooks!

What is a Lapbook? (Timestamp 01:36)

If you have never heard of a lapbook, you are not alone!

These miniature power-packed notebooking tools are a very different tool for recording what our students have learned and you may not be familiar with what a lapbook is. I certainly wasn’t when we started on our homeschooling journey.

So, here’s my definition:

Lapbooks are educational scrapbooks that fit into the lap of a student.

Typically, lapbooks are a collection of related mini-books on a certain subject—ones that are blank inside to allow room for your student’s narration. A narration is simply a retelling of what they have learned. These mini-books are then glued into a file folder for easy viewing, making a lapbook!

You can also include pictures or projects that the students have completed, but the basic idea is to create a type of scrapbook that records what the students have learned over a given period of time.

Lapbooks are extremely versatile because they can be used in conjunction with any subject the students are learning about.  We loved mixing things up a bit in our homeschool and throwing a lapbook or two into the mix, especially in the early years. 

They are excellent notebooking tools to use with elementary students as a way of reinforcing what they are learning because this age group tends to prefer a smaller canvas to work on. Lapbooks are mini-notebooks, ones that help our younger students not to be overwhelmed by a full blank page and ones that can help our older students organize their thoughts in a creative way.

The Mini-book (Timestamp 03:32)

The heartbeat of the lapbook is the mini-books that are placed inside. Mini-books contain information on topics related to the main subject of the lapbook.

They can be a variety of shapes and sizes—I’ve seen circles, squares, rectangles, hexagons, and even animal shapes! At a bare minimum all mini-books should have the title of the subject, but they can also include a picture related to the subject as well.

The interior of each mini-book should contain a sentence or more detailing what the students have learned about the topic in their own words. The interior can also include a labeled sketch or a graph to represent what the students have learned about a subject.

Each of these mini-books will be about a different sub-topic within the main lapbook topic. So for instance, a lapbook could have the main topic of “plants”. The related mini-books could then be on the types of leaves, the kinds of flowers, the parts of a seed, and more.

You are creating an educational scrapbook about a subject as your students learn about it in real time. Then, one day they can pull it down, open it in their laps, and look back at what they studied.

How can you use lapbooks? (Timestamp 05:04)

Now that we know a bit more about what lapbooks are, let’s look at three different ways you can use them in your homeschool:

  1. You can use lapbooks to review a unit that you have just finished covering in your current curriculum. This is a great option if your students are older. They can create a lapbook in a day or two, one that highlights the key points of what they learned over a unit.
  2. You can use lapbooks to switch things up a bit. I have found that by swapping a lapbook in for your regular notebook, logbook, or journal, it injects a bit more interest into your studies. This works great with all ages, especially when you find that your students are getting bored with the same old, same old.
  3. You can use a lapbook with your younger students, while your older students create a full notebook, logbook, or journal. Lapbooks have less white space and because of this, younger students seem to enjoy creating these for their notebooking more than a full sheet.

Wrapping it up (Timestamp 06:58)

However you choose to use lapbooks in your homeschool, your students will benefit from these educational scrapbooks that can fit in their laps. Thanks for listening and I hope you have a great week playing with science!

How we can help you with science

Did you know that all our programs at Elemental Science use notebooking? And many of those have both a lapbook and a notebook option.

If you are looking for a science unit with both a lapbook and a notebook, you’ll want to check out our Science Chunks series. This series puts you in charge of your science studies for the year. You can pick and choose the units that interest you. Plus with two levels reading and writing, you can incorporate the whole family.

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