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The Basics of Lapbooking

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The Basics of Lapbooking


Do you have hands-on children?  Do they fidget and seem bored?  If so, bring out the file folders, scissors, adhesives, and curriculum.  Change your homeschool by learning the basics of lapbooking.

You may have heard about lapbooks and wonder what is so special about them.  The term lapbook originated with Tammy Duby, a homeschool mom.  She wanted a book her son could create and lay in his lap.  The result was a lapbook.

Lapbooks allow hands-on students to become more involved in their learning rather than reading the information and completing workbook pages.  This learning tool is for all ages and can center around any topic you and your children are studying.

A lapbook is simply a folded file folder.  The students write chunks of information from their studies onto folded paper called mini-books.  The mini-books are then adhered to the file folder.  Lapbooks are not complicated and you do not need to be a craft-oriented person to complete one.  Lapbooks can be simple or elaborate and there is no right or wrong way in creating one.

You may purchase ready-made lapbook components or you may make one of your own.  We used ready-made components when we studied Jeanie Fulbright’s Exploring Creation with Flying Creatures.  The set we used required cutting and folding.  Other lapbook materials come ready for assembly.  You may also create your own lapbook using mini-book templates.

There is a fair amount of cutting involved with making lapbooks.  You may discover cutting takes up too much of your children’s school-time.  An option is for you to take an afternoon to cut any pre-made materials and make multiple mini-books at one time. 

Basic Lapbooking Supplies


There are a few basic supplies you will need for creating lapbooks.  Begin by looking around and see what you already have before purchasing items.  You will need the following basic supplies:

  • Scissors
  • Stapler
  • Adhesive
  • Ruler or bone folder.  I prefer a bone folder since it makes better creases.
  • File Folders (regular or colored) – In the Hands of a Child sells pretty file folders and matching library pockets.
  • Regular paper (white or colored)
  • Cardstock paper

Lapbooking Supplies from In the Hands of a Child

Some optional supplies are:

  • Paper cutter – rotary or guillotine
  • Long arm or swiveling stapler – This is for stapling the center of some of the mini-books, which allows them to open better.
  • Grommets, buttons, and ribbon for closing thicker lapbooks
  • Brads to fasten fan mini-books

Planning a Lapbook

Start your lapbook planning by selecting a topic.  Certain subjects render completing a lapbook easier than others do, such as science, history, and geography.  If you are doing a unit study, select and plan around your topic as you normally would.  If you are using a textbook, use a chapter for the topic.

Once you have selected your topic, begin determining what information to include in the lapbook.  That information will be your subtopics.  If your unit study topic is the respiratory system, you might include subtopics on the anatomical parts, the process of breathing in oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide, vocabulary, and so forth.  If you are using a textbook, use the subtopics within the chapter for the information to include in the mini-books.

As you proceed with your planning, think of the different types of mini-books and which ones you might use.

Formulating the Information

Your children will write what they learned from their daily lessons into the mini-books.  The amount of information you choose to include in a mini-book is up to you.  The key is to break down the information into small increments.

The mini-books do not need to be limited to one form for recording the information.  You can have your children include a small report, diagrams, and pictures of the topic, of an experiment or from a field trip.

Place the completed mini-books into a Ziploc bag.  At the end of the unit or chapter, you will assemble the lapbook. 

Create the Lapbook Base

Constructing and Assembling

Making a lapbook is fairly simple.  Begin by folding the flaps of a file folder into the middle of itself.  Add cardstock paper to the inside to allow for durability.  Ready-made lapbooks are available.  In the Hands of a Child sells those as well as a template packet.

Second, gather the completed mini-books and arrange them in the lapbook as you and your children desire.  You might want to arrange them according to the order the information was studied or however the mini-books will fit in the lapbook.











Next, attach the mini-books to the lapbook using your preferred adhesive.  I found glue causes the papers to become lumpy.  A tape runner used in scrapbooking works the best for us.

Lastly, design the cover.  It can be simple or elaborate.  You can use a coloring page or an image found on the internet.  After attaching the coloring page or image, cut along the interior edges of the image so the lapbook will open easily.

You may find your children need larger lapbook for certain studies.  All you will need to do is attach another file folder by gluing the flap of one folder to the flap of another folder. 

Lapbook Storage

Lapbook Storage

Now that your children have completed these wonderful treasures, what are you going to do with the lapbooks?  You may desire to keep the lapbooks for your children’s portfolios, as reference material for future study, or for reminiscing.

Storing the lapbooks require some creativity in of itself.  You can use whatever storage containers you already have available.  A few options are magazine holders, plastic totes, and 3-ring binders.

That is the basics of lapbooking.  Give it a try and let me know how it turns out.


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Angie McFarren, Homeschool Consultant

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This copyrighted article originated from Angie McFarren at H.O.P.E. Home School Consulting. © 2014 H.O.P.E. Home School Consulting Blog  All Rights Reserved.

Please share. It makes me happy. :)

Angie McFarren

Angie McFarren is a homeschool mom of 1 high school student and graduated another who is now attending college. She has homeschooled them since they were in K and Pre-K. Angie is passionate about homeschooling and enjoys Helping Other Parents Educate. She is a Homeschool Consultant and the author of Educate the Home Educator Crash Course. Angie is also a Product Reviewer for See the Light Art Curriculum.

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