With Project Based Learning and Genius Hour the newest additions to the classroom routine, it’s not surprising that using lapbooks and interactive notebooks continue to be highly effective teaching tools. I am not sure when I actually started using interactive notebooks and lapbooks with my students (probably five years ago). However, I continue to love using them today.
Using Lapbooks to Learn
Kids of all ages enjoy hands on activities. By using lapbooks, we can all of these things:
- categorize information
- expand thinking with creative writing
- tap into our artistic talents, and
- use the finished projects for presenting and sharing with others.
I love the polished look of a finished project, and the pride children feel with their work is worth the time used to create them. Plus, as students create projects, they are able to exchange information about the topic while they’re working. Those little conversations clarify information for those who need help. It also provides time for rereading and reviewing what’s been taught. Additionally, the final project works well as a study guide for the unit test.
Getting Started with Lapbooks
If you haven’t created lapbooks with your students yet, you might check out this video tutorial from Confessions of a Homeschooler. Her post is dated 2013, so truly, these things have been around a while. There is a reason for that. They are helpful to kids. So, check out Erica’s video.
In my experience, colored file folders work well. However, they are not essential if manilla folders or construction paper are more plentiful. What you choose as your “base” may depend upon how long you plan to keep and refer to them. I have also folded them different ways such as in book form (portrait and landscape)or with the “doors” folded into the middle.
I loved this idea I saw on Pinterest from First Grade Parade for using unique materials. Although this is more of a book than lapbook, it made me think that you could use paperbags as your “base” for them. The bags can be cut on both ends to store handouts or manipulatives. I also love punching a hole on the “doors” to add a tie closure for a polished look. I am thinking you could also glue a page sized envelope to the back for storage too.
How I Have Used Lapbooks
For my students, I typically use lapbooks as an alternative to a traditional book report. However, their use goes far beyond that. I see the greatest application of them in the content areas and even with math. There is such a wide variety available now. With the rigor in science and social studies, it’s nice to create them as part of your unit. Then, students refer back to them for review as I mentioned previously. Below, you will find the Pinterest board I’ve created. It has links to helpful blog posts, links to free lapbooks, and some very creative variations. I have added a few into my store to go with a few of my favorite books. They extend the themes of the book. I’ve pinned these to the board as well.
Other Hands-On Project Ideas:
- How to Use Hands-on Project to Extend Reading and Writing
- How Making Books in the Classroom Makes Learning Stick
- 20+ Ways to Keep Vocabulary Fresh and Fun
Whether you are a teacher who loves hands on projects or not, I hope you’ll bring the idea into your classroom from time to time. If time is short, then at least include parts of them into your interactive notebooks. Your students will really enjoy them. Don’t forget that when learning is fun, children remember it long after the project is complete. Plus, the content is attached to something really really fun.