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What is lapbooking and its purpose?

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So, I know tons of people love lapbooks and I understand it is folders full of information they are learning.. what I don't understand is WHO builds, cuts, pastes, creates, etc.. the lap book and how long does it stay in use? Do you reuse folders?


If we had lapbooks for SOTW and Science; or a book we are currently reading such as The Hobbit; do we make one for each child, each grade level or one to share?!


What are the pros to lapbooking vs notebooking. Currently our notebooks are all in one notebooks; they put the date at the top and then whatever we do that day per subject they choose a new page, put the date and write their narration; or write down their math assignment, etc... It is a very dull and ugly little spiral notebook.

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I'll answer some of your questions about how WE do it, but I can't sell lapbooks to you, they're like cloth diapers, either you want to or you don't. :)


I don't usually create lapbook components from scratch (although I do frequently modify them to suit). I cut and occasionally transcribe, they assemble the pieces and the notebooks. The pieces get glued in, so we don't reuse the folders. I expect to use some for review for years (but not frequently).

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I'll answer some of your questions about how WE do it, but I can't sell lapbooks to you, they're like cloth diapers, either you want to or you don't. :)


I don't usually create lapbook components from scratch (although I do frequently modify them to suit). I cut and occasionally transcribe, they assemble the pieces and the lapbooks. The pieces get glued in, so we don't reuse the folders. I expect to use some for review for years (but not frequently).


Each dc has one for SOTW. It is nice that they each have ownership, but it is a lot of cutting. We all share for composer study. Up to you. If I only had ds we probably wouldn't do them, with just dd I might do more.


I expect we will graduate to more notebooking as the get older. I think of notebooking as being more text-based. Obviously in truth it is probably more of a spectrum. Notebook pages sound easier to store!

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I tried them with my son and he didn't care for them. My dd is very arty crafty and she loves making lapbooks, so I use them as a fun supplement. For my kids I don't know if the educational value is worth the time expended, but for my daughter really enjoys them so I use them sometimes.

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DS (10 yo) loves lapbooking for TOG. I print out all sheets needed for the unit, but he writes, draws, cuts, and pastes the book together. The last unit is sitting upstairs on his shelf. It gives us a chance to sit down and discuss his week's reading assignment on Fridays and ensure that we touched on the major points. At the end of first quarter I sat down and reviewed the lapbook with him. It was amazing how much he recalled!


I tried lapbooking his science assignments. It didn't work for this subject; I think because the lapbook was aimed at a younger age than TOG. We're notebooking science now.

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I make my own 90% of the time instead of downloading one someone else designed. (I'm actually considering doing some youtube videos walking people through the process.) Mine are a way of creating a portfolio of the assignments my child did. I also use them to review. Since I don't do mine the way most people do, I'm copying and pasting the detailed list of our Ancient China lapbook contents. I do more of a mix between Charlotte Mason and Trivium based Classical Education in the early years. I did this with my 7 year old. She does a lot of the assembling (cutting, gluing, pasting) for each individual component of the lapbook. I usually do the assembly of all the components into the folder.


This is from another thread late last year: Teaching History in early elementary (a discussion.)


I'm assuming, based on your post, you want specific details on what exactly we're doing, how we're doing it and why. Here as as many of the nitty gritty details as I could come up with as an example for you.


Educational Philosophy (ultimate goals)


Right now my focus is on the who, what, when and where of history (Grammar Stage) for my 7 year old. That lays the foundation for the why (Logic or Cause and Effect Stage) in the middle years when we're here again at a higher level. In high school we'll cover this from an even higher "What eternal truths about life should I take away from this and apply to my life?" approach to history (the Rhetoric or Application/Persuasion Stage.) If I try to do more than one of those stages at a time for the same child at any age there just won't be enough time to cover it adequately and not all of it will be age appropriate.


Hands on Application (details)


I keep a list of everything we do for each unit and put the list in our lapbook. I group the chapters from Story of the World (an engaging historical narrative) by Susan Wise Bauer by region. For each unit (Mesopotamia/Middle East, Egypt/Africa, Ancient Greece, China, India, the Americas, Northern Europe, and Rome) I move chronologically within the region during the Ancient period of time. I don't bounce back and forth between regions the way SOTW is written. I think it's too confusing for young children to do it strictly by chronology at that young age. It's also easier to find supplemental library books because the Dewey decimal system organizes history chronologically by region. Usborne Book of World History is written strictly chronologically, so we read the relevant chapters in a different order than they are in the book. We do the relevant maps from Blackline Maps of World History at the beginning and add to them as we move through the unit study if needed.


We read about 2 chapters a week from:


Story of the World (SOTW)-my child does a narration for almost every chapter

Usborne Book of World History (UBWH)-sometimes these chapters are part of narrations

Blackline Maps of World History (BMWH) by Terry Johnson which is now sold with a different title.

library books -usually about 30 minutes total read aloud from at least 2-3 short storybooks a day


I supplement with library books that cover history, mythology, folklore, plants and animals, fun activities, and biographies relevant to the place and time we study. I'm moving slower through the Ancients. It will take us about a year and a half. This is what we did with Ancient China this fall. I added a few notes to the list. Activities that can't go into the lapbook are photographed and the photos are printed. My child narrates back what I read aloud to her, I write it out, and she copies it for handwriting. I keep each completed activity/assignment in a folder until we're done with the unit. We spend a day or two assembling the lapbook at the end of the unit.


Ancient China

UBWH-Great Civilization in the East 74-75

UBWH-Writing and Inventions 76-77

Ancient Chinese Inventions coloring pages downloaded from the internet and shrunk down and glued into lapbook

SOTW-Huang Di & the Yellow River Valley 66-67 (write narration)

BMWH-Copy map of Yellow River Valley

BMWH-copy map of The Shang Dynasty Starts 70-71

SOTW-Farming 73-75 (narration)

SOTW-Pictograms 71-72 (narration)

The Pet Dragon by Nieman

Copy Chinese characters from Pet Dragon

SOTW-Calligraphy 239-242

Liang and the Magic Paintbrush by Demi

The Greatest Treasure by Demi

Dragon’s Tale by Demi

Made in China by Williams-Printing 29

Make potato block prints

The Magic Boat by Demi

Make paper in Art Class

SOTW-Warring States 243-244 (narration)

SOTW-The First Emperor & The Great Wall 244-248 (part of a narration)

The Great Wall of China by Fisher(part of a narration)

BMWH-Copy map of Mongolia, The Great Wall, and China

SOTW-The First Emperor’s Grave 248-250 (part of a narration)

The Emperor’s Silent Army by O’Connor(part of a narration)

The Story of Kites by Compestine

Make a kite

Kites by Demi

Crouching Tiger by Compestine

The Chi-Lin Purse by Fang

Selection from Confucius’ Analects-write out a few for handwriting

Make a simple chart of Confucian social order

7 Chinese Brothers by Mahy

The Cricket’s Cage by Czernecki

The Dragon New Year by Bouchard

A Time of Golden Dragons by Zhang

Make Dragon’s head from Fiesta! China 21(photos)

Color Chinese Zodiac Symbols-download from internet. Color, cut out, glued into lapbook.

Bringing in the New Year by Lin

The Stonecutter by Demi

Lon Po Po by Young

The Jade Horse by Tompert

Make felt fish sachet from Fiesta! China 21

Article about this year’s Dragon Boat Festival

Coloring page of Dragon Boat download from internet

Copy selections of poetry of Qu Yuan found on internet

China’s Bravest Girl by Chin

Ling-Li and the Phoenix Fairy by Greene

The Hunter by Casanova

Fortune Cookies by Lin

Lo Ming Moves a Mountain by Lobel

Grandfather Tang’s Story by Tompert-trace from the last page and cut out several sets

Make tangrams artwork-glue tangram cut outs onto 6 " squared Asian papers into animal characters from above book (or use tangram blocks on a solid contatrasting colored surface and take photos to print out and label in a lapbook.)

Set up silkworm habitat (The live silkworms we ordered died 2 days after arrival. )

The Empress and the Silkworm by Hong

Lifecycle of the Silkworm by Fridell

Red Butterfly: How a Princess Smuggled the Secret of Silk Out of China by Noyes

Make Silkworm Lifecycle Chart from downloaded print out from the internet

Silkworm poem-download from the internet and copy for handwriting

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I have my kids do a lot of lapbooks because I have found them to be one of the very best educational resources I have ever used.


FYI I am not an artsy person in any way shape or form. Being successful with lapbooks is not dependent on being an artsy person or having artsy kids.


I print out everything first. I usually do this in the summer so that they are open-and-go throughout the year. Mostly I use premade lapbooks, and I may or may not add extra activities as needed.


My kids (including preschoolers) do all of the cutting, pasting, writing, etc. IMO they all (including boys) need to develop their fine motor skills. I try to follow the (unofficial) rule that Mom doesn't touch the lapbook (except for preparing the file folder and attaching extra cardstock pages), Since the project is basically entirely their own work, the kids gain a great sense of accomplishment making these. Of course their lapbooks don't resemble any of the perfect ones I see posted on various homeschool blogs. However, I doubt my kids would be nearly as proud of them if I had done the majority of the cutting and pasting.


My kids have retained a high degree of the information through making lapbooks and rereading them. For example, when we came across New World Explorers in history again this past year, they ran to pull out their old Explorer lapbooks from the shelf. They found the various explorers we were talking about and read to me what they had written.


My kids will periodically pull out their old lapbooks just to reread them for fun. Sometimes they also read through a sibling's lapbook if it is on a subject they have not yet covered.


I use the lapbooks for most of our oral presentations. Three times per year my kids give a presentation to my parents, dh, and me. They present one of their history lapbooks as well as memory work. This exercise helps for retention of the information.


At this point, I am doing lapbooks for history, science, and civics. I either buy them from HOAC (download their ebooks) or print out free ones from www.homeschoolhare.com.


I keep my lapbooks on one shelf in my office where the kids can easily pull them out. They take up hardly any space.




Having the kids do all of the assembly is a valuable exercise. They have to determine how many cardstock pages they will need for the lapbook. They also have to organize the pieces in a logical manner. This is good practice for the future for such things as planning and writing reports.

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We use them. My kids love them and I don'y mind doing them myself. Sometimes we make one to share and sometimes we do individual ones -just depends on the content. My kids learn a lot of content this way and they LOVE reading them over and over - especially my 3yo. I keep them on a school shelf and DS2 often pulls them out while I am giving lessons the olders and goes through them. He pretends to read them by reciting what he memorised - suprisingly a lot.


I pre-cut them and the kids glue and arrange them how they like.

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We did lots of lapbooks when my children were younger. I wanted them to get in the habit of taking notes or writing down main thoughts from what we read or discussed. I guess narration, but not necessarily everything I would expect from verbal narration.


Lapbooks were a way to break that down into doable chunks. The little books were not overwhelming the way a big blank sheet of paper was. I did most of the cutting with my paper cutter since square books work. We would generally save them and then glue a bunch at the end of the week. I added duct tape lips to the folded edge of manila folders and three hole punched them so we could store the lapbooks in bonders rather than doing the glue together accordian thing.


As they get older and are more comfortable with writing more we have moved into notebooking. I have splurged on a few premade sets which they really like and sit down to design my own to fit in with topics. The concept behind it is the same, it breaks that big blank sheet of paper up into managable pieces =)

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We do one for SOTW. I printed off all the little minibook things beforehand. The kids cut them out while we listen to SOTW being read by Jim Weiss. They also color the SOTW AG then. We have a regluar history binder (a three-ring one), where we put the minibooks in, alongside our coloring pages. The minibooks share a page of cardstock, front and back, until it is full. Then we add another cardstock page wherever that is and continue on.


Is what we do "lapbooking"? I am not sure. Sort of. The minibooks are. My DD made one of those giant folder lapbook things at a co-op and I still can't figure out why other people actually like to do stuff like that. They are huge and impossible to store.


My kids love to go through their binder and show it to people or see what they remember and talk about it. The little lapbook project things are what makes it fun and makes them want to go through it on their own.

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We love lapbooking, well ds14 would say love is an overstatement, he could take them or leave tehm depending on the topic, ds9 LOVES them and wishes we only lapbooked and read books nothing else. DD5 things they are great and dd13 is into them. They are a way to review the material studied and showcase it. Instead of a report or essay it is in a lapbook. They really work well for retention for my kids. As for reusing folders, no you do not resuse them, you store your lapbooks in a magazine holder or cut cereal box etc for easy access because the kids will love to take them out and look at them over and over just like a scrapbook and it helps them review it all. We have not done the SOTW one, but we do other ones on all sorts of topics.

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We have used them but put the activities into notebooks. For us, it is a reinforcer and a way of documenting what we have learned more about by discussion. Because we are in a public school program and we do a lot of Socratic style learning, I need some sort of "proof", so we sometimes do notebooking for that purpose. I do find the kids all have good recall on items they have notebooked, but we pick and choose our notebooking activities rather than do them all for each subject...the cut and paste stuff gets a little old for less important facts.

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