Lapbooking and Homeschooling

Perhaps you've heard the term "lap book" tossed around in home-schooling circles. You wanted to ask someone what the heck they were talking about, but you didn't want to appear ignorant of the new home-school jargon. So, here is the "411" on the latest home-schooling trend.

"Lap book" is actually a trademarked term coined by Tammy Duby of Tobi's Lab. She has spent countless hours creating and teaching the art of "lap books" "Lap books" can also be called "shutter-books" and "folder books". Whatever the term, they are a way to organize information.

Let's say that you are studying Africa during a year-long exploration of continents and you really want your children to understand the people and events that make up the African culture. So, you take your family on a field-trip to the local library and check-out fiction and non-fiction books and videos about Africa, it's culture, it's history and it's people. As you and your children spend precious time together pouring over some wonderful books, you all begin to soak up the people and places of this intriguing continent. You want a gentle way for your children to understand and remember what they have read.

Now, you begin to assemble small booklets and paper manipulatives that outline the basic information that has been covered. For example, you may choose some of the following activities: color a reproduction of African art for the cover of the folder. make a three-part book showing the three major biomes of Africa make a 3/4 book showing Africa, it's hemisphere and interesting points of Africa. Write a book report on Muraro's Beautiful Daughters or King of the Wind. Make a shape book of Africa that has different layers; boundary map, physical map, and bodies of water. You could even make a puzzle with the different countries of Africa or create a four-door book explaining the "who", "what", "where", and "when" of missionary David Livingstone. Mary Schelessor was also a hero of faith as a missionary to Africa. A three-part book outlining her character traits would be appropriate.

The grassland biome of Africa would make an excellent tab-top booklet where the vocabulary, plants, animals and a map of the grasslands could be discussed. What if Kenya were the African country most intriguing to your family? How about a question and answer booklet? A map of Kenya could be on the front. One flap could show the flag of Kenya with a description of the symbols underneath. The other flap could show a map of Africa with an inset of Kenya. Interesting facts about Kenya could be written underneath. Make a paper wallet with Kenya currency inside. The out side could show the ratio of Kenyan currency to American currency.

These are only a fraction of the possibilities. Does't this sound like a lot more fun than filling out endless worksheets and test? Do you think your children will remember your "trip" to Africa after completing this project? How much do you think they would remember after taking a test?

Would you like to find out more about making "lap books"? There are many wonderful books and websites as well as "yahoo" groups that can supply you with information.

Here are some of my favorites:


Big Book of Books and Activities by Dinah Zike
The Big Book of Projects by Dinah Zike

The above two books will teach you the paper folds to put into your "lap books"

The Ultimate Lap book Handbook by Tammy Duby and Cyndy Regeling

Giant Science Resource Book from Evan-Moor Publishing

Any book by Dinah Zike would be helpful in your "lap book" journey.


Tobin's Lab @

Candle in the Window @

Using Dinah Zike materials @

* Especially her article on diving dataÑExcellent!

Living Literature with Lap Book Learning @



Written by Candace Darr Independent Consultant, Educational Specialist

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