We design our own lapbooks about 90% of the time. While it can take more time in terms of research and planning, there are many advantages. The kids learn more doing the research themselves, they feel a greater sense of ownership, it allows for more creativity, it can be tailored to the child’s age and interests, and the finished result is less “cookie cutter.” Also, lapbook kits tend to involve mind-boggling amount of cutting and assembling for shape books and add-ins, so they can actually end up taking more time than designing your own simple lapbook.
Here are the basic steps involved in designing your own. You do not have to do all of these steps. These are simply all of the ways you can find great material.
- Agree on a subject with your child. Try to leave it up to him or her. You’d be surprised how much you can learn from subjects that sound anything but educational.
- Search for relevant information online or have older child do it (google the subject and key words like kids, worksheet, facts or handout). If your child does the searching, be sure he knows how to search safely. Obviously, your child can also search for information in books, encyclopedias and other printed materials and copy facts from them.
- Cut and paste text about your subject into a document file (with fairly large print) to print out. Kids can cut paragraphs or facts to glue in, copy information from the page or otherwise incorporate it. You may want to print on colored paper, just to make it more colorful and interesting.
- Print out coloring pages, handouts, black and white maps and other creative elements.
- Use web sites like enchantedlearning.com for printouts.
- Do a google image search and print images in color (right click and select “view image” to get just the image to print).
- You can also do a google search for lapbooks that others have made on your subject. Sometimes you can find blogs where parents have posted pictures of ones their kids have made or even include links to places where they found great info and printouts.
- Print out some fun shape books or just make up pockets, flaps, etc. You can find lots of great folding templates here.
- Put out related stickers and art supplies. Some handy supplies include double sided tape, old magazines, colored cardstock to make pockets, markers, scrapbooking supplies and embellishments. Obviously, you’ll also need basics like scissors and tape or glue.
- Be your child’s helper in assembling, but give her/him full creative control.
You can incorporate just about any subject in your lapbook. Here are some examples.
Geography: Print out a B&W map and have child color in the area he’s studying (or where someone is from or where something originated).
Handwriting: Have your child copy relevant poems, quotes or passages. Have your child write a paragraph about her opinion on the subject, why she likes it or another perspective.
History: List dates such as when something was invented, when changes happened, etc.
Science: Your child can include relevant scientific principles, biology for animals, botany for plants, etc.
Math: Have him calculate time passage, make timelines, average numbers, figure prices, calculate exchange rates, and so on.
Art: This one is obvious, but art can include drawing, designing and coloring. It can also include famous art from a region, art having to do with the subject and so on.
Spelling: Make mini books with new vocabulary words and definitions.
Home ec: Include recipes from regions, find out daily life and chores from other times or other lands, etc.
Remember that the more ownership you give your kids, the more likely they are to love lapbooking. It’s okay if your kids don’t want to use everything you’ve printed out or do it the way you think is best. They’ll still learn a ton and create something wonderful.