Editor’s note: Whether you are a homeschooler or a parent looking for ways to extend your kiddo’s school learning experience, there is nothing like discovering tools that are inventive, easy and great ways to plug kids into their own way of learning.
That’s what makes it so fantastic to introduce Rosina Huber. Her enthusiasm for home learning, creativity and genuinely joyful outlook on life makes her a wonderful teacher, inspiring mom and wealth of information.
She starts us all off with a lesson in lapbooking – a great learning tool that focuses on holistic, creative and fun ways of learning.
These are the perfect way to nature journal, build a homeschool curriculum, work on areas in school that are a bit of a struggle and get creative.
Here she is:
If you have never had the pleasure of lapbooking with your children, you are in for a real treat.
On the surface, lapbooks essentially are a creatively folded file folder with the addition of little booklets, pockets, diagrams, notebook pages and snippets of information. But, as a way to get kids truly interested in the learning process, they are so much more!
Kids learn in many different ways. Some thrive on the structure that standardized school lessons offer. But, many need a different way of looking at the details we as parents and teachers use to help them genuinely plug into it all.
Lapbooks are an amazing tool to do that. They are a way to break free from worksheets, stuffy textbooks and redundant exercises by taking a hands-on approach which can actually improve learning and information retention.
They really let your child get creative and can be used to cover a multitude of subjects like math, art, science, social studies, and language arts into one project.
There is absolutely no age limit as to who can make a lapbook either. Whether it be your preschooler or your high school student or even a combined lapbook between two grade levels as I’ll show you below, this is going to be a big hit.
You don’t need a lot of supplies to get started, just a few basic things, adding more as you get the hang of it.
To start you will want:
- a package of file folders, any color will do
– glue or tape
– an assortment of colored paper (cardstock is nice for pockets)
– pencils and markers
– magazine pictures or photos printed off the internet
– a hole punch.
From here the skies the limit.
Next you need a topic.
What is your child interested or excited about right now? If they’re crazy about dinosaurs or ponies then work with that, or if you are studying a specific topic at home then base your project around it.
Once you’ve picked your topic, this presents a great opportunity to teach research skills to your middle elementary and older children. Take a trip to the library, use the online catalogue and search for books that you can use, utilize the internet. You can find enough information online to complete a lapbook every time without even leaving home.
Now that the hard part is done you can start on the fun stuff, the projects.
Brainstorm with your child to come up with ideas. We thought that it would be fun to create a lapbook about Fall and Fall leaves because we have been having so much fun collecting them and making rubbings.
So when I asked my 5 and 9 year olds what happens in the Fall they said falling leaves, animals migrate, named off things that you can find outdoors in the Fall and that was enough to get us started. Don’t worry if you don’t have a ton of ideas when you start. As you get going more and more projects will pop into your head and if you’re anything like us you’ll have to make two lapbooks just to fit it all in!
Since the most basic thing that happens in the Fall is leaves changing colors, that was where our lapbook began. An outdoor excursion resulted in handfuls of fallen leaves, a lot of leaf rubbings, a great discussion on why leaves change color and the first project for our lapbook was created.
Utilizing an online newsletter for young science explorers we delved into the world of leaves creating leaf-shaped books highlighting why a leaf changes color, vocabulary words in acorn shaped books and a science experiment that collected the chlorophyll from green leaves.
Right there with that one project we covered both science and language arts, but how do you incorporate math into a lapbook?
We could have counted leaves or added acorns, but what about baking? Add in your favorite Fall recipe and now you have mathematics and home economics covered.
Baking requires the use of fractions, measuring, estimation and more. This is also where kids of different ages easily learn together at the same time. My kindergartner couldn’t write down the recipe but she could help count, measure and stir. I also incorporated memorization for both children by adding a poem to remember, another acrostic type poem that we actually wrote on a real leaf, plus a matching game made with some of our leaf rubbings.
My 2 ½ year old is just as eager to get in on the fun so we made him a maple leaf lacing card which covered fine motor skills for him and my kindergartner because she got practice using scissors as she cut it out for me.
You can see now how easy it is to cover multiple subjects and get all the kids learning at one time. Just remember to keep it fun! Don’t get to bogged down in the details of how you are going to cover it all. Let your children lead you through their natural curiosity and the ideas will come easily.
Once you have a few things made up you can start to fit them into your lapbook. It’s sort of like putting a jigsaw puzzle together.
Start by folding your lapbook and decorating the front by putting on your title and some artwork just like you were decorating the front of a book.
Then inside arrange your booklets, pockets, graphs and projects you completed in any fashion. There are no rules as to how to put your lapbook together, the biggest factor is working with the space available and sometimes one file folder just will not do! Don’t worry though, you can add extensions. Check out this web page which has a photo tutorial on how to glue two file folders together doubling your workspace and you can even add additional flaps for more room.
Trust me, you’re going to want to know how to do this.
If you are not to keen on creating your own lapbook from scratch then there are tons of great websites to get your started as well.
Homeschool Share has so many lapbooks that I’ve lost count and they are all FREE.
Homeschool Helper is another great source of lapbook ideas as well as lots of templates for making your own mini books, shape books, pockets, envelopes and more.
This site has a great tutorial on how to create your own lapbook templates using MS Word.
If you are looking for an all inclusive kit that you just print and put together, Hands and Hearts is a great place to start. They are reasonably priced, well researched, you can download them directly to your computer, and they turn out fantastic! Knowledge Box Central and Currclick are two other great places for lapbook kits that are delivered straight to your computer and Currclick has weekly giveaways as well.
You may be like me though and believe that there is nothing like a great book in your hands to peruse through over and over again, gleaning ideas away from the glare of your computer monitor.
If so then I have a couple of real gems for you. Dinah Zike, in my opinion, is the lapbook queen! She has tons of great books but there are two that every homeschool bookshelf should hold. The first is the Big Book of How To Make Projects which takes you through the steps of coming up with a project, brainstorming for ideas, how to lay out your folder with all sorts of booklet examples, and lots of reproducible pages to get you started. The second one is her Big Book Of Books And Activities which is as the title suggests, all about making the mini books that go into your lapbooks, complete with photos and directions.
The Ultimate Lap Book Handbook by Duby and Regeling is another favorite of mine and they have great ideas for cutting your file folder into different shapes to compliment your project as well as ‘blueprints’ as she calls them for lots of different lapbooks which is a great help when you are first starting out.
That’s it, you’re ready to make your first lapbook! Let your imagination run wild and you may never go back to those workbooks again *grin*.