Lapbooking is taking the homeschooling community by storm. Who wouldn't want a way to provide an exciting enhancement to their children's education without a lot of cost? Most kids love a hands-on approach to learning and parents and kids alike love the finished product.

But what exactly is a lapbook, and how in the world do you do all that fancy cutting and folding? A lapbook is simply a file folder that contains a variety of "mini books," foldables, and other material that cover detailed information about the lapbook's central topic. What is included in your lapbook is entirely up to you and your learner. A lapbook might accompany a unit study, elaborate on a book or serve as a guidebook or portfolio.

Lapbooking can be done at any age and with any subject. At a recent lapbooking workshop, lapbooks were displayed covering everything from fractions to "all about me" to the Revolutionary War. Lapbooks can focus on a specific topic, such as the rainforest, or serve as a reference tool for various skills, like basic grammar facts. You might wish to make a series of lapbooks about great artists, covering an artist or a movement per lapbook. You could make a lapbook to go along with your foreign language program, creating minibooks that serve as reminders for vocabulary and sentence structure.

It really isn't as complicated as it sounds, and that is just one of the beauties of lapbooking. Once you get the hang of it, you will find yourself thinking about everything around you in terms of lapbooking!

So what are the benefits of lapbooking? A lapbook is, first and foremost, a fantastic hands-on educational tool. The lapbook itself is highly interactive – from the creation to the finished product. And each component of the lapbook has given the learner an opportunity to concentrate on a specific aspect of the greater topic.

Beyond the educational benefits, a lapbook is a treasure. My children review their lapbooks frequently, opening up the foldables, reading, and touching, and reliving the memories we made during our lessons (like the day that, while burning the edges of paper to give an aged look for our Declaration of Independence, we started a bit of a fire!).

There is no right way or wrong way to lapbook. You don't have to be a super-creative, scrapbooking kind of parent. The best way to begin is to just dig right in. There are dozens of fantastic resources available. I recommend starting by looking at samples to get ideas and inspiration, whether it's seeing one in real life completed by a fellow homeschooler or by perusing online photos of finished lapbooks.

You might wish to start with a lapbook that has already been designed – then all you have to do is the cutting, folding and gluing. The company The Hands of a Child has an extensive line of lapbooking kits. Their kits are downloadable e-books complete with everything you need for the finished project except the paper and folder.

Once you get the hang of the basic lapbook you can let your imagination soar!

Free Lapbooking Resources (formerly the Homeschool E-Store) has a free download every week, and often this will be a lapbook. has free lapbook templates and examples. includes dozens of literature units, various themes, books based on the Five in a Row curriculum, and links to many other free downloads.

Sarah Small is beginning her 10th year homeschooling her three children. She enjoys reading, blogging and teaching literature and writing courses at her local homeschooling co-op. Email her at

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