Lap Books: Out of the House and into the Classroom


Lap Books have been a very popular tool for research, study and review in the world of homeschool instruction. The variety of benefits from creating and using Lap Books has helped them to move into the classroom. Lap Books are a personalized summary of a lesson or unit of content. Diana Zike developed the system of student-created file folders creatively arranged with colorful foldables and paper flap manipulatives to display the important components of a lesson or unit. Homeschooling mom, Tami Duby of Virginia, coined the name Lap Book, because everything studied could be held in her children’s laps. The Lap Book provides students with a tangible take-away of their studies. Every time a Lap Book is looked at memories are stimulated and reviewing takes place.

February is just around the corner and maybe you are a lower elementary teacher preparing a unit for Black History Month. Image doing it in a Lap Book! I have a new Black History Month Lap Book that contains complete instructions, templates and 10 content pages covering the History of Black History Month, the Civil Rights Movement, and African-American Leaders in Government, Science, Civil Rights, Sports, Law, Military, Education and Business.

Black History Lap Book

There is no right or wrong way to construct a Lap Book. Lap Books are very unique to each student. There are two components with each Lap Book: the content it contains and the process of the construction.

  • The content of a Lap Book is a combination of a notebook and a scrapbook. Within the foldables and flaps, students can record specific facts and information with graphics, such as timelines, diagrams, T-charts and matrices, as well as illustrations and annotated notes. Student opinions and reflections can also be recorded in a Lap Book.
  • The process of compiling a Lap Book builds study and organizational skills for the student. Information can be researched. Planning is needed to arrange the information in the Lap Book. The student’s own flare and creativity will be shown in the presentation of the information in the Lap Book. Lap Books can be evaluated and assessed by the student as well as by the teacher.

A Lap Book for a lesson or unit can be started at the beginning of the instruction period in 10 to 20 minutes. As the study progresses, students add to their Lap Books. Before a quiz or test over the material, students can use their Lap Books to review with study partners. A Gallery Walk-Thru, where students have an opportunity to look at everyone’s Lap Book, can be an alternative form of review.

There are many ideas for Lap Book construction available from a variety of homeschool organizations online. You can get some great ideas also watching Lap Book videos on You Tube. The one drawback is these Lap Books are being done by one, maybe two students at time. You may not have the time or the tolerance for the mess with a roomful of students, let alone 6 periods a day. So you might want to look at Pre-Made Lap Book materials. Pre-made materials can provide a model of a Lap Book, which can be very helpful if you are new to Lap Books. Pre-made Lap Book materials can help you introduce the process to you students and give you a ready-made guide for future Lap Book projects.

Lap Book for Westward Expansion

I also have New Republic Lap Book for summarizing US History from Washington’s Presidency to the Monroe Doctrine. There are readings about Hamilton’s and Jefferson’s differences, the formation of political parties, domestic and foreign issues, the first five presidents, the War of 1812, Supreme Court cases, Washington’s Farewell Address and the Monroe Doctrine.

New Republic Lap Book

Is Westward Expansion on your horizon? I also have two versions of the Westward Expansion Lap Book. One is modified for ELL or SPED. There are even two versions within the product: regular and a “less mess” version to save time and, possibly, your sanity. There are nine content pages on Manifest Destiny, the Louisiana Purchase, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the Florida Cession, the Texas Annexation and the Mexican War and Cession including the Gadsden Purchase, the Oregon Treaty, the Trails West and the California Gold Rush. There are also six primary source analysis readings about the Louisiana Purchase, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the Florid Cession, the Texas Annexation, the Mexican War and the California Gold Rush.

Westward Expansion Lap Book

Are you loving the idea of Lap Books? The take a peek at the US History Lap Book for the end of the year STAAR test. It contains a PowerPoint presentation and all the content AND templates your students will need to review for the end-of-year assessment. Included are maps, quotations, dates, people, ideas, US History Eras and important documents. There are even goal setting “Mini-Me” manipulatives to help your 7th, 8th and 9th grade students customize their Lap Books.

US History STAAR Review Lap Book

Maybe you have been looking for an alternative to the interactive notebook. Possibly this is the first you have read about Lap Books. Could be you just need something new to revitalize your students. Whatever your reason, take a chance on Lap Books!

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