The lazy {and easy} way to do lapbooks

The lazy way

What we hate about lapbooking

From the first moment I learned about lapbooking, I was completely enamored.  I envisioned epiphanies in our learning coming down like manna from heaven.  Sigh.  Isn’t that the way it always is when we discover a new approach to learning?  I wish I could say that our first lapbooks lead to epiphanies but it didn’t.  Instead it was a complete flop…that is until I changed how I was using them. When we first started out using lapbooks, I thought my children would looooove the cutting, pasting, and assembling part of it.  You know…hands on.  I thought, “they’ve been cutting and pasting in preschool and kindergarten for years now, surely this will be right up their alley.”  But, I soon came to realize that although they may have liked these kind of projects in a school setting (or simply completed them as a necessity of adapting to their environment) they much preferred open ended activities when it came to art expression.  Assembling a lapbook was just too rigid of an activity for my youngsters, my oldest being in second grade.  I can see how assembling lapbooks will work really well when they get a little bit older and actually want to organize their ideas.  This certainly is a great way to do it.  However, they’re just not ready for it yet.

Readiness should always take precedence over ideology when it comes to teaching children. @KirstenJoyAwake {Click To Tweet This!}

I’m learning that just because I saw it on a blog, read it in a book, or heard it from a speaker it doesn’t mean that I can do it with my children.  I’ve got to keep their needs at the center of all my teaching decisions.

What we love about lapbooking

Even though my kids weren’t ready for the whole process of assembling lapbooks yet, they did love the finished product.  When the lapbooks were completed, for days and weeks afterwards my boys would open and close the flaps reviewing the information under the folds, and laugh out loud at the memorable facts that filled the minibooks.  I couldn’t believe the interaction my kids were getting around the content that we covered.  This would never happen with a worksheet!  In addition to the review of the content, it also became an great to way to collect their narrations and visually display an entire unit of learning.

Finding a happy solution 

So we came to a happy medium.  I handle the assembly process (the cutting, pasting, and most of the writing.)  They handle the content. My son will read an excerpt aloud from his science book that we use as a spine for our studies, and follow with a simple narration.  I write the narration down. If you’re interested, I go into a little bit more detail on how we teach science and what books we use in this video (don’t forget to subscribe!) In conclusion, I’d have to say that I’m definitely a lapbooking convert.  Joy of the content has replaced test taking in our science curriculum which in my book is true learning.  Even though it was a rocky start, I found that I could easily adapt this approach to fit our children’s needs and I see it staying around for a long time.  It’s a process they can grow with. If you’d like to try lapbooking in your homeschool you can download a free Mammals Lapbook to get started with.  Just head here. Hope you enjoy.  Stay inspired!

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  1. Sarah M. says

    Thank you!! I’ve never given myself the freedom to do this and as I’ve had more children, lapbooks have fallen out of favor. I like to do a lot of our school prep in the summer but the lapbooks I couldn’t prep (other than printing) so we didn’t end up doing them much. My kids love the finished product too…its getting there that they don’t like. I however love cutting and assembling so I’m going to happily prep some books for my younger kids and try your method of lapbooking. Thanks for the idea.

  2. Kirsten Joy says

    Sarah, I’m right with ya!! I love to cut, paste, and plan. It’s so hard to give yourself permission to prep it ahead of time though when everyone (I’ve read) advises to keep your hands off the process and let your children do it. I suppose that would work with older kids. Hope you guys enjoy!!

  3. Miranda Gonzalez says

    I’ve never lapbooked before…do you tape big pieces of construction paper together? Or what do you use?

    • Kirsten Joy says

      We like to use a simple file folder. Most are heavy enough that they hold up well with lots of use. You can then print out/cut out your own “mini books” to glue inside of the folder. I love to use folders with bright colors though. Makes it a lot of fun!

  4. says

    I loved, loved your post Kirsten. It is “right on” about why we use lapbooks. You know they are NOT just for young kids or about cutting/pasting which is why I did most of it for my boys when the older two were younger.

    No wonder why they don’t like lapbooking. It’s not the labbook, its the cutting! lol That is why I say on my lapbooks ” I am NOT testing the scissor cutting ability of my sons” Lapbooks are part of any teacher’s extension of work, like a worksheet or flashcards so why shouldn’t I cut them out for my boys?

    We don’t hand one long rolling tube of paper to our kids with worksheets they need to cut lol ..Corny, but true! The truth of it is you can make them be about fine motor skills or not. I found out early that if I did that all the time, the kids only associated pain with the process.

    I will be sharing your post this week. Thanks for sharing it..Loved it!!

    • Kirsten Joy says

      Tina, that’s a great way of putting it…using the lapbooks as an extension resource. And totally hilarious to think about but so true concerning worksheets!!! Thanks so much for sharing!!

  5. Elaine says

    I love this! My two youngest have been asked to create a fact file or a leaflet about a nocturnal animal of their choice. This woukd be a great way for them to display the pictures and information that they have found out. Can’t wait to show them! Thanks for the inspiration :)

  6. Jenny says

    My daughter is 10 and has NO interested in the cutting. I cut everything out, I have her do the writing, then she decides where she wants it to go. Oftentimes, I do the pasting as well. At first, I was like shouldn’t she be doing all of it? But really, it is nice that we can work on it together.


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