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Which one is better in your homeschool - a lapbook or a notebook? {Season 11, Episode 126}

March 04, 2024 4 min read

 Should you use a lapbook or a notebook in your homeschool? Get answers in this episode from 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 how to choose between lapbooks and notebooks in your homeschool.

Key Takeaway

  • Lapbooks are great for younger kids and shorter units.
  • Notebooks are great for older kids and longer units.
  • In the end, choose what will work for you and your student.

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Episode 126 - Should you use a lapbook or a notebook with your homeschooled kids?

Lapbook or notebook?

Lapbook or notebook? (Timestamp 00:32)

Notebook or lapbook?

It’s a question that we hear often here at Elemental Science because we offer both options with most of our programs.

The truth is neither one is better than the other. Both are fantastic ways of recording what a student is learning through notebooking, but there are differences between the two. And there are situations that one or the other may be a better fit for your students.

So in this episode, we are going to chat about the differences between the two and give you a few questions to help you decide which one will work best for your situation.

I have used lots of lapbooks and lots of notebooks in our 10+ years of homeschool. And it’s no secret that I much prefer to use these two formats of notebooking over worksheets. But before I share which I like to use the best, a lapbook or a full notebook page, let’s review the two.

What is a lapbook? (Timestamp 01:33)

A lapbook is an educational scrapbooks that fit into the lap of a student.

A lapbook usually contains a collection of related mini-books on a certain subject. Each of these is then glued into a file folder for easy viewing. Plus, you can also include pictures or projects that the student has completed.

One benefit of a lapbook is that the student only needs to record one or two facts in an interesting-looking mini-books, so it’s less white-space to content with.

What is a notebook page? (Timestamp 02:04)

A notebook is afull sheet of paper—pre-printed, lined, or blank—that student can use to record what he or she is learning.

A notebook page will provide space for the student to include both the material and visual components of notebooking. Remember that the material component of notebooking contains the information the student has learned and the visual component of notebooking displays a picture of the concept the student has studied.

One of the benefits of using a full notebook page is that it allows for plenty of room for the student to record what he or she has learned. In other words, notebooks are perfect for recording all the facts that the student finds meaningful.

How to choose – lapbook or notebook? (Timestamp 03:17)

So, knowing what the two are, how do you choose which one?

Well, I prefer to use both in our homeschool – I know I am being as clear as muddy water! Seriously though, both lapbooks and notebooks have a place in my teacher toolbox.

That said, there are a few questions you can ask to help to determine your answer to whether to use a lapbook or notebook.

1.   How proficient is my student with writing?

A student who is barely writing might find all the white space of a notebook intimidating, while the student who writes well might be limited by the space a mini-book in a lapbook provides.

2.   How long do I plan on spending on this unit?

If you are only devoting a few weeks to your studies, a lapbook can be the best choice for your situation. If you will be spending an entire semester on the subject, a notebook is the better option.

3.   How old are my students?

In my experience, younger students tend to gravitate towards lapbooks over notebooks. While older students seem to prefer the freedom that a notebook provides over a lapbook.

4.   Which do I (or which does my student) prefer?

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule! If you or your student love lapbooks, you should try to use them as often as possible no matter what their age or writing ability may be, and the same goes for notebooks!

Wrapping it Up (Timestamp 05:18)

I like to think of lapbooks as being the mini-version of notebooks. Both use notebooking and so you’ll reap the benefits of this method of writing no matter which one you choose. One may fit your student or your time constraints better than the other. So ask yourself those four questions and choose the best tool for your family. Thanks for listening and I hope you have a great week playing with science!

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