Lapbooking 101

A reader wrote and asked if I’d share my lapbooking speech so I’m posting it here.  This is my basic outline.  I also told a lot of stories of how we chose subjects, successes and failures, etc.

Note:  I brought an assortment of lapbooks that Jack, Victoria and Anna had done to illustrate various points and show how different they can be for different children and different ages.  I recommend bringing examples and passing them around to illustrate points as you go.  If you don’t have enough finished lapbooks in your own home, consider printing pictures of lapbooks online to at least give general ideas for how individualized they can be.  Definitely bring at least a few of your own so people can see them in person though!

I included the links mentioned in a handout so nobody had to copy them down, plus more.


Intro (introduce self, how long we’ve been lapbooking, why we love it)

Hi, I’m Alicia, a homeschooling mama to four kids — 2 girls ages 9 and 11 and 2 boys ages 2 and 6.  I’m here to teach you a little bit about lapbooking– what it is, how to do it and how to make it as fun and educational as possible.
I.  What is lapbooking?
a.  Definition
A lapbook is a project book or file folder, laid out in a creative manner, that fits in the child’s lap.  You can think of it as a combination of scrapbooking and report writing, using manilla folders, craft supplies and additions like hand made mini books, pockets, flaps and other nifties.
b.  Example  (hold up and pass around)
We’ve been lapbooking for about two years and my kids love it.  Some of the reasons we all enjoy it so much are…
c.  Reasons lapbooking is great for HS (list)
  • Hands-on, which suits lots of kids’ learning styles
  • Inexpensive
  • Creative, lets kids express themselves
  • Works in all different subjects— history, reading, handwriting through copying definitions or writing out poems and quotes, but also science, math, social studies and other subjects (give examples)
  • Children can revisit them and review whenever they like
  • Learn lots
  • It’s fun!

I.  How to lapbook

No matter how you lapbook, you’ll start out with this basic design…

Show basics of how to fold file folder shutter style, affix a back page (recommend double stick tape) and make pages with colored cardstock and packing tape.

General info with sites for samples, freebies, instructions and more:

a.  Premade lapbooks

1.  give handout with URLs to some free sites and paid sites

2.  show example


  • Everything is gathered for you
  • Less intimidating to start
  • Often lots of cute mini books and shapes


  • Can be overwhelming number of pages
  • Often involve lots of cutting and dull construction work
  • Not individualized to child’s level or interests
  • Confined to what someone else’s research found
  • Least creative control of all for kids
  • Can be “cookie cutter”
  • Can easily burn out parents and kids

b.  Lapbooking templates

1.  URLs (’s country template)
2.  examples

c.  Design your own

Talk about how this is the method we most often and use and why it works so well for us.  Pros and cons.

1.  Steps

  • Agree on subject with child
  • Search for relevant information online or have older child do it (google the subject and kids, worksheet, facts or handout)
  • Print out coloring pages, handouts, B&W maps etc.
  • Use web sites like for printouts
  • Do a google image search and print images in color
  • Print out some fun shape books or just make up pockets, flaps, etc.
  • Put out related stickers and art supplies
  • Be your child’s helper in assembling, but give her/him full creative control
Include many subjects like:
Geography: print out a B&W map and have child color in area studying (or where something is from or where something originated)
Handwriting: have child copy relevant poems, quotes or passages
History: when something was invented, when changes happened, etc.
Science: relevant scientific principles, biology for animals, botony for plants, etc.
Math: calculate time passage, make timelines, average numbers, figure prices, calculate exchange rates, etc.
Art: draw, design, color
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.

2.  examples

d.  Other resources (email lists, web sites)

III.  Do’s and Don’ts

a.  what not to do
  • start out with a huge project
  • micromanage
  • try to make it perfect
  • force a child to do them or keep working that day
  • get hung up on what it “should” include or look like
  • plan in too much detail
(Show Anna’s horse lapbook and talk about lessons learned from stepping back and letting her do it her way.)

b.  What to do
  • let your child take the lead
  • work it around your child’s style (etc. perfectionist, artsy, computer…)
  • start small
  • tailor the amount of cutting and mini books to your child’s level
  • adapt it to suit your family and timetable
  • let your child pick the subject at least half the time
  • make it easy (precut, have materials that help, etc.)
  • have great materials to make it fun
IV.  Ways to jazz them up, make more fun
  • Always put out lots of art supplies– markers, crayons, stickers and so on
  • Raid your scrapbooking supplies and look for neat stuff in scrapbooking stores
  • Use color– you can purchase boxes of colored file folders at office supply stores, and print pages and mini books on colored paper
  • Give the kids lots of creative control

IV.  Q&A

3 thoughts on “Lapbooking 101

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