Recently we had the opportunity of presenting a workshop on mini-books and lapbooks, types of graphic organizers, to our homeschooling support group. We were pleased to have such a good turnout and spent a delightful evening with old and new friends. It was especially enjoyable to see some ‘textbook’ moms learn that hands on projects such as mini-books and lapbooks were not only fun, but also educational!
What is a Graphic Organizer?
For the benefit of those of you who were not present, a graphic organizer is any tool that allows your student to organize his thoughts and record what he’s learned in a visual way. Examples of common graphic organizers include:
- Charts and Graphs
- Venn Diagrams
- Scrapbooks, Lapbooks and Mini-books
- Library Pockets and Envelopes
We made two different types of mini-books at our workshop – an accordion book and a layered-look book, and we showed examples of mini-books and lapbooks that had been made by our children as well as some we had made in teaching a Reluctant Writers class a few years ago.
1. Using one single piece of 8 1/2 x 11 inch colored paper, hold the base piece of paper vertically, then fold it in half lengthwise.
2. Out of contrasting paper colors, construct a simple flower clearly showing the petals, leaves, stem and roots, as shown in the picture on the far left.
3. After gluing the flower to the top half of the folded paper, cut through the flower and the top half of the paper, to the fold. Make three cuts so that the flower, leaves, stem and roots each have their own section.
4. On the inside of the flaps, label each section, as shown.
5. Write a short description of each flower ‘part’ opposite each label.
What is a Lapbook?
A lapbook is a innovative, visual, creative, kinesthetic, way to organize information. Examples abound of lapbooks online (and see our resource list at the bottom of this post), but on the right is an example of one my son made a while back about space. The base is simply made from two file folders glued together.
Directions for making the lapbook:
1. Take two file folders, laying vertically open on the table in front of you.
2. One at a time, take the outside edges of each file folder and fold them in towards the center fold. Crease well, then let them open.
3. Glue together the sides of each folder that are next to each other. Voila! That is all there is to it – you can make lapbooks bigger by gluing on more folders or attaching additional flaps inside.
At the left is a photo of the inside of the lapbook. There is space for vocabulary, illustrations, charts, book reports, clip art and anything else your study included. The multicolored mini-book is a favorite of ours, the layered-look book. It allows students to do a fair amount of writing, depending upon the number of pages it contains, but is much less intimidating than that dreaded big, blank sheet of paper because it is divided into many different sections.
Lapbooks are not only fun to make but:
- they are kinesthetic and visual, maximizing other learning modes
- they beg to be shown to others, giving students an automatic and painless review of the material contained in their lapbook, every time they show it to someone else
- they can be used for studying almost any subject and easily may integrate several subjects, maximizing learning
- they are great at enticing reluctant writers because they are divided into many smaller sections
- they can also be used as an assessment tool, especially when assigned with an accompanying rubric outlining what is to be included in the lapbook
- they can be used for all ages, kindergarten through high school
As with all graphic organizers, anytime your elementary student is organizing information, he is building a foundation for learning more advanced writing skills as well as for learning how to take notes.
At every grade level and in every type of curriculum we have, Epi Kardia curricula uses mini-books, lapbooks and graphic organizers!
Online Resources for Mini- and Lapbooks
Here is a resource list for mini- and lapbook resources including instructions, ideas and even free lapbooks:
- This is one of our favorite original sites with great instruction and ideas. Check out the blog for this site as well.
- This has an array of lapbook information for all ages. In fact, at The Homeschol Lounge (highly recommended!) you can join a group of homeschooling moms who share lapbook ideas and resources.
And for those of you who want to incorporate notebooking and scrapbooking into your homeschooling (or you like to scrapbook yourself):
If you read our last post, Six Steps to Start Second Semester, mini- and lapbooks might be just the thing to add some pizazz to your homeschooling this semester. Even if you use a traditional curriculum, please give your students a chance to do some thing hands on, colorful and creative! Enjoy!
In His Service,
P.S. If you have a reluctant writer or two at your house, in addition to trying mini-books, you might find our reluctant writer series helpful. See Reluctant Writers – Part 1 The Early Years, Reluctant Writers – Part 2 The Middle Years and Reluctant Writers – Part 3 High School and Beyond.