Do you love lapbooks but are intimidated to use them with multi-aged children?
Lapbooks are great little tools for enhancing your studies. You CAN use them effectively and easily!
Basically, a lapbook is an irregularly folded file folder with mini books and papercrafts that are adhered to the inside. It’s a perfect way to keep all the research and information neatly folded inside and in one place. You have many choices when purchasing lapbooks. Besides the myriad of subjects, you can purchase pre-made lapbooks, ebooks, have all the supplies mailed to you where you just cut and paste or have CDs sent to you so you can re-use the information.
We have used lapbooks for several years. This year, one of the classes that I am teaching at a co-op is zoology with multi-aged children-Kindergarten thru fourth grade. I didn’t hesitate at all when combining the large age gap because I am very used to adapting the same information to different levels with my own children who are in 4th and 8th grade currently.
To give you an idea of my students in the co-op, their skills vary from non-writers to able to research and write reports. Everyone participates in discussions and activities and they all have the same mini-books that I have prepared for them. (I printed a lot of my material from Homeschool Share.) For my non-writers, I ask them to draw a picture of what we discussed or the info they needed to research. Many times, I am also able to write their narration down when time permits. I always ask them to tell me about their pictures which helps solidify their connection with the information. I might make a suggestion to their picture, but I try and let them share in their own style.
Here’s how I incorporate this idea: For my youngest guy, he drew a picture for the question “What is zoology”. When I asked him to tell us about his picture, he said that he drew a man. I praised him for his wonderful picture and suggested that he draw an animal too since zoology is the study of animals. He went right to it; he was so excited! For the varying skills in between, I will ask them to write specific information like: Please write 3 interesting or fascinating facts or Draw a picture and write a sentence about it. For the older ones, I ask them to write paragraph reports when applicable. Everyone gets to share their new information. They just love that!
For vocabulary, you have several options. Many times, I will type out the words and definitions for my younger children. They cut and paste the correct words with their definitions into different types of mini-books we have created. We’ll find the words and review them together. Instead of just asking, “What does aerodynamic mean?”, I’ll ask them to put the word in a sentence. Now that I know the child understands the definition, we will paste the definition with the correct word. Sometimes, I’ll have the definition typed out and ask them to write the correct vocabulary word. My older children are obviously capable of writing both words and definitions. I vary their exercises depending on what I want them to focus on and how much time I’ve accounted for studying the subject together. The kids love changing up the mini-books! Dinah Zike’s Big Book of Books is a great resource to have on hand!
I personally love including hands-on activities outside of lapbooks when teaching. I love to teach to all of the different learning styles throughout class-auditory, kinetic, and visual. If I am planning several hands-on activities for the class then I’ll cut out the mini-books already to save time. For example, during our next class, we will be building a birdhouse with pre-cut wood and nails and creating a bird feeder out of a recycled 2ltr bottle on top of our lapbooking. In our last class we cut and pasted the books already and they are awaiting information to be written/drawn inside of them. Kids love to enhance their lapbooks. Dover Publications sells some inexpensive and wonderful stickers for several themes.
These are just a few ideas to get you started. You can successfully share this experience with your multi-aged children at the same time! Lapbooks are so much FUN! They give you, the teacher, a sense of accomplishment. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE having all the information together in one place. The kids get excited seeing their lapbooks come together and the finished product. Remember to have them write a created and finished by date on the outside somewhere. These will be a keepsake for sure!
Do you currently use lapbooks as part of your homeschooling? What are your favorite resources for making lapbooks?
Amanda is an eclectic homeschooling mommy to 4 beautiful girls and has been homeschooling for 9 years. In the elementary and middle school grades, she uses the classical format of teaching history chronologically as a reference for each year. She’s used several curriculums and ideas spanning the subjects over the years that were chosen for her children’s individual learning styles, needs and goals that her family has purposefully chosen. Homeschooling is one of the many hats she proudly wears. Grab a cup of tea and get to know her better at Encouragement Along the Way.
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