How do I fit lapbooks into our day?

A reader recently asked me ~

I love the idea of doing lapbooks, but I just don’t know who to fit them into our day.  Can you please share some practical ways we can include lapbooks in our homeschooling?

Let me first quickly explain what a lapbook is ~  A lapbook is usually a folder containing a collection a number of little folded booklets called minibooks all focused around a theme/ topic/ book/ or project.

What I love about lapbooks is that all the little minibooks are little mini-lessons!   Each minibook covers its own topic, which essentially is a stand-alone narration or lesson.    So simply, your children write (or dictate) their narration for the specific topic in the specific minibook and you’ve done your lapbook lesson for that day.

Another reason my kids love lapbooks is that the minibooks are small!  Children don’t feel intimidated facing a large, blank notebook page which they felt they had to fill with lines and lines of information.  Instead, the small booklet seems as if they just need to note a few details and they start writing without too much stress.  Surprisingly, these little booklets can hold a lot of information!  I usually ask for 5 full sentences with at least 8 facts.  Even young children following a Charlotte Mason approach can easily recall these facts and easily fill a minibook.

Many minibooks have an illustration or image on the front of the booklet.  This helps children remember the facts of the topic, so they feel more confident.

Lapbooks mean that your project/ theme or topic is already prepared.  All the minibooks are all the little lessons, and the lapbook planner helps you keep track of the lessons.  I’m very practical and developed a wonderful time-saving tip in organizing all these little booklets before starting the lapbook ~ We print, cut, fold and paste all the minibooks in the file folder and everything is ready, on hand when we do our lapbook.  This is a huge help because kids don’t have to first cut and fold, or sort through a bag of booklets searching for the correct minibook before settling down to write.  They simply open their folder and browse for the relevant minibook, open it and start writing.

Some moms mentioned that their children were afraid of making mistakes in a minibook already pasted in the folder.  I recommend children first write out their narrations in rough draft, or copy a dictated narration, or trace over a penciled narration.  At worse, you can always paste a new page over a spoilt minibook.

We normally only do one lapbook at a time for one subject, but sometimes we have 2 running, one for History and maybe one for a Science theme or Bible project.  Start with your first lapbook on its own and gradually add other activities once you and your children get used to the schedule.

My older children loved to combine minibooks with notebook pages instead of using the file folders.  This works just as well and is simple to prepare – I created notebook pages with the lapbook theme as a header and left space for the minibook.  the rest of the page was lined or blank, as needed.

So what does each day look like and how do we fit in our lapbook lesson?  

Our school days are fairly short – just a few hours per day.  Here’s an example of our schedule for our 3 children – a junior primary, middle schooler and junior high child, covering the same core.

  • Bible time together = about 10 mins
  • Seat work or 3R’s = each does Maths, Spelling, Handwriting and Reading = about 15 minutes per activity and I move between each child to help with work or listen to reading etc.
  • Tea Break and a few minutes to run outside or jump on the mini trampoline.
  • Story time = Core or main reader with all the kids together on the couch or under the tree.
  • Narrations or Lapbook or hands-on activity = about half an hour. Each lapbook minibook is a lesson and so we usually do one minibook per chapter =about half an hour. Some narrations take longer and the kids work over several sessions while I keep reading. Other times I stop reading and we use that time to work on narrations or writing.
  • Lunch break
  • One more subject after lunch = look at my Themes for the Week. This is where we fit in all the extra subjects like Nature Study, Science, Fine Arts.   Many days my children work to complete this before lunch so that they have a full “free” afternoon.

That’s it in a nutshell.  Hope this helps you and I trust that you and your children learn what works for your family and enjoy lapbooks as much a we did.

Please pop over to my Lapbook Page for all my free lapbooks, templates and tips.

Blessings, Nadene

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Illustrated Narrations

A reader wrote and asked me, 

“I understand that my 10-year-old should be writing some of his narrations, but he still balks when faced with his blank notebook page.  How do I encourage his early written narrations.  He’s very visual and artistic.  Does an illustration count as narrations?”

Narrations (or “telling back”) are the cornerstone of a Charlotte Mason education and this complex learning activity takes years to master before your child can confidently write his written narrations.  Illustrations are an excellent starting point for early narrations.

Here are some creative narration ideas ~

  • Draw or illustrate the most important scene/ the ending/ the main character/ the surroundings/ machines or inventions mentioned.  Draw articles mentioned instead of making lists.  My kindergartener start drawing pictures of their narrations in a large jotter.   Sometimes this was part of their “busy hands with listening ears” activity while I read aloud.  Afterwards,  as they told me what they remembered of the story, I jotted their narrations next to or under their illustration, capturing a detailed, personal retelling.
  • Earth Solar System Comics 004Mom prints the child’s dictated narration next to or under their illustrations in pencil.  Encourage young writers to then trace over the penciled narration with a colored pen or felt-tipped pen.  This forms excellent handwriting practice and develops the child’s handwriting stamina.  It also looks like “their own” narration — which it is!
  • Draw a comic strip of the narration.  A comic strip can include a massive amount of information!    Comics with just 6 blocks can easily sum up entire chapters and are great for imaginative, visual children.  Comic strips help a child order or sequence their narrations. We did a whole series of comic strips for our Astronomy studies.  Here is my free blank comic notebooking page.
  • https://practicalpages.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/p1080498.jpg?w=300&h=225Make a model or 3D image.  Children love creating paper or cardstock models, like the 3D Little House in the Big Woods.  My children loved to illustrate, color in and cut out the windows, doors, and other folds which, when pasted correctly, formed three-dimensional illustrations.  Young children love to lift flaps and look inside doors and windows!
  • https://practicalpages.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/p1080139.jpg?w=401&h=301Use those Lego blocks for narrations!  Children draw the backdrops and characters for the scenes in the reading.  Punch suitably sized and spaced holes into the cardstock to fit the Lego blocks and clip in between Lego blocks to stand upright.   Children can “act out” their narrations.  They placed their cardstock scenes and characters into an envelope pasted on their notebook page to store them safely.
  • https://practicalpages.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/p1070351.jpg?w=300&h=225Use minibooks instead of a large notebook page.  This helps the child feel more confident that he just has a small space to fill  and he need not fill a whole blank notebook page.   I often combined minibooks with my notebook pages.  The image and heading on the front of the minibook provided an excellent narration prompt.  My young kids loved these minibooks and enjoyed planning their own page layout and often filled a large notebook page with several narration-filled booklets.  A real Win-Win!
  • Lapbooks follow the same principle mentioned above and we used lapbooks for almost all  middle school subjects.   I believe that lapbooks are an excellent transition to formal notebook narrations.

I hope that these ideas help and encourage you and your child develop creative narrations!

Blessings, Nadene

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How to Fit in Creative Hands-on Ideas

Commenting on my recent post “Make Memories with Hands-on Activities” a reader asked ~

How do you do it all and where do you get all your creative ideas from?”

As many other readers may wonder and ask similar questions, I thought I would answer in a full post.

Firstly, I DON’T “do it all”!  I think this post may describe my failings and fears of not getting it all done!  But here are a few simple strategies to plan and add hands-on activities and to create fun learning opportunities in our homeschooling experiences.

1.  Plan it 

Start with your year plan or the book index.  Look over all the main topics and themes in the schedule that may provide interesting activities and highlight them.  Add a few days to a week, or even longer for your activities, depending on the activity.  Usually I source (or create) a lapbook and a few quick hands-on activities for each theme.  We don’t always do them all, but I like to have some options planned.

Essentially I extend our 1-year schedule to 18 months or even 2 years.  I have NEVER regretted taking our time with extra hands-on activities, but have always regretted rushing on when there was still a sparkle of interest and enjoyment.  None on my children have ever fallen behind academically.  Carry on with the 3’Rs (Maths, Spelling, Phonics/Reading, Handwriting) according to their normal grade schedules and simply extend your core.  At first, you may feel anxious, but don’t worry.  You will find your rhythm and flow.

2. Pinterest  Pinterest Homeschool

Where did I find my ideas?  In my early years, I simply Googled the topics and themes for projects, plans, ideas and activities.  These days, Pinterest is a fantastic resource!  Type in your search topic and pin away! (Here are my Homeschool, Art, Famous Artists, Bible, Nature, Maths, English, Printables and Science boards.)

Practical Tip:  

While I search, I use Microsoft OneNote (here’s an online tutorial) to collect all my ideas so that I can work with them offline. Other folk swear by Evernote.  (Read the comparison between them here and here. ) OneNoteWhatever works for you is fine! 

I love OneNote because I can easily create tabbed notebooks and sub-tabbed pages.  OneNote automatically adds link and web addresses whenever you copy text or images.  I especially like the screen clip insertions as it gives me quick visuals of my searches.  OneNote  allows you to attach files, pages and portions from the Internet to the notepage, so everything is in one place and saved automatically. Later, I play around with my Internet finds and create my projects and pages.

3. Print & Prepare

After collecting my hands-on activity ideas, I create my pages and then print everything out and prepare the work.  After many years of homeschooling I have found all these time-saving tips for doing lapbooks that really work. We save time and avoid much frustration if we cut, fold and pack all the minibooks and store them in Ziplock bags, or better still, paste all the minibooks into the file folders ready for our lapbook sessions.  I file my lapbook planner with the index page and notes, all ready to whip out when we need them.

4. Promote it

Usually our hands-on activities are the best part of our theme.  My kids love to know what hands-on activities they will do with each new theme or topic. Introducing a theme with a hands-on activity is so stimulating!  But if we need to first do read alouds, narrations and notes, then the hands-on activity is a wonderful reward to complete the work.  If interest flags, or kids are tired, sick or unmotivated, hands-on activities revives our days.

5. Provide options  Science experiments2

Children have unique interests and learning styles.  I find that younger children need more physical activities, while older kids may prefer creative activities. One of my children is very shy, while the other loves to act out scenes and present puppet shows and speeches.  One is very visual, while the other loves listening.  One is very left-brained and logical, the other very fluid and right-brained.  Find activities that serve the individuals as well as the group.  Co-op with other families for added hands-on excitement!

When teaching several children together, (and I highly recommend moms combine their close-aged children on the same core) it is good to have options and allow the kids choose what activity they would prefer to do.  My kids notebook in individual ways, uniquely combining notebook pages with their minibooks, and I try to create pages and projects that are open-ended and flexible.

Many of our activities have started with an idea which the kids developed and fulfilled in ways that I did not necessarily anticipate.  The more I homeschool, the more I realize that my kids love to take an idea and run with it!  I am often simply a facilitator!  More and more, I am learning to let go and allow my kids to lead & take charge of their learning experience.

Whether your hands-on activities are “extras” or essentials in your homeschooling, please plan time for them, take your time and enjoy these homeschool moments!

Blessings,

 

Parable Minibooks

blog parable minibooks

My 10-year-old loves our daily Parables minibooks.

She enjoys reading the full, MKJV scriptures in each booklet by herself,

and then narrate the parable back to me.

We have wonderful discussions

and she amazes me with her spiritual insights.

Most of all, she loves to add some things to each minibook  ~

a patch on old cloth,

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some seeds,

P1160226

a few grains of yeast,

P1160228

jewels,

P1160229

a pearl,

P1160230

some netting and some colored fish,

P1160231

a fluffy lamb

P1160232Her simple delight in these little “add on’s” is a reminder that

young children love the concrete, hands-on activities.

My child’s inspiration has transformed her ‘ordinary’ Bible Notebook pages

into something unique and special!

I am a facilitator to her creativity.

Her notebook pages may turn out quite differently to the way I imagined them,

and that is precisely how it should be ~

HER own!

How do your children make their Bible Study personal?

Blessings,

Free Parables Lapbook

I’m delighted to release my latest free lapbook ~

Free Parables Lapbook

Features ~

  • chronological order parables master list with scripture references in all gospels
  • 38 parables (almost every parable!)
  • complete scripture quotes for every parable in each minibook
  • Modern King James Version
  • simple square design in different folded minibook formats
  • colorful front page art work
  • many minibooks have blank pages inside for the child’s own notes or drawings
  • matching choice of notebook pages, some lined, blank, half page lined, or primary lines

My lapbook elements can be used as ~

  • minibooks and pasted into a lapbook, or,
  • combined with the notebook pages provided, or
  • Collected and stacked as stand-alone minibooks (maybe create a little square box for the pack?)
  • scripture memorization cards

Here are your free downloads ~

  1. Parables Master List  (2 pages)
  2. Parables Booklets 1-9  (10 pages)
  3. Parables Booklets 10-19 (9 pages)
  4. Parables Booklets 20-27 (9 pages)
  5. Parables Booklets 28-34 (11 pages)
  6. Parables Booklets 35-38  (5 pages)
  7. Parables Notebook Pages  (4 pages)
  8. Just for fun, a 1-page-into-10-page minibook ~ Parables – Kingdom of God is like …

I humbly ask that you respect my copyright and request that you link back to my blog if you wish to share these with others.

Be blessed as you dig into God’s word with your children.

Blessings,

Store Lapbooks & Notebooks

We use notebook pages for almost every subject, (except Maths, only because we use Singapore maths workbooks.)

During the year the kids keep their notebook pages, lapbooks (we use duct tape to keep it in the file), art  & projects in their own narrow ring binder files.  I make dividers or cover pages for each subject.

As we progress during the year, we file the term’s or month’s notebook pages in a large arch lever file.

At the end of the year I bind these into notebooks. Last year I bought a new office item – a binder!

I even bind the lapbooks into the spiral-bound notebooks.

But if there are a lot of lapbooks, I file them all in a folder.

How to store lapbooks (& other books) in a file folder:

(photos on the left side of the collage above)

  1. You need a 3-page cardboard folder, metal filing clips, a sharp craft knife, ring reinforce stickers, string, brad pins (split pins) and duct tape.
  2. Insert the metal clip through slits in the back of the cardboard file folder.
  3. Punch or slit the duct tape binding on the side of the lapbook (read here how we make the duct tape binding) to fit over the filing clip.  I made duct tape binding for the Book of Centuries and Maths workbooks.
  4. Insert the lapbooks and close the file clip.
  5. Fold the folder pages over to close the folder.
  6. Attach 2 cardboard circles to each folder side with a brad pin and secure behind with some tape.
  7. Measure off a short piece of string, tie to one of the cardboard circles on one side of the folder and wrap the string under the circle on the other side and back and forth to close.

    Closed with string and brad circles. Label on the spine.

  8. Label the spine of the folder.
  9. Store on the bookshelf for easy access.
  10. Easy-peasy!

How to store lapbooks in a spiral-bound notebook:

(see the photos on the right side of the collage above)

  1. Bind all the notebooks pages in the binder.
  2. Align the lapbook’s duct tape binding along the plastic spirals.
  3. Using a sharp craft knife, make a small slit in the duct tape binding about every 3 or 4 spirals, just wide enough for the plastic spiral to slide through.
  4. Ease the plastic spiral through all the slits and back into the spine of the spiral binding.

    Some of the spiral binding inserted through slits in the duct tape

  5. Now that the binding is closed, the lapbook is quite secure.
  6. All done!

These spiral notebooks, labelled and stored on the bookshelf, take up much less space than the arch lever files.

Better still, the kids love to take out their notebooks to browse through their past year’s creative work!

What practical tips do you have to store previous year’s work?

Blessings,

New – Pearl Harbor Lapbook!

We have started our final section of Sonlight American History.

I created a new free lapbook  download~

Pearl Harbor Lapbook

Update:  I’ve broken the above lapbook file into 3 smaller files for easier downloads:

Pearl Harbor Lapbook

The Pearl Harbor Lapbook includes:

  • 19 page download with …
  • lapbook organizer with hyperlinks for each section to original websites
  • Vocabulary and definitions with several activities such as a crossword puzzle, word search and match words with meanings
  • Detailed (even minute-by-minute!) timeline
  • Battleships, Cruisers & Destroyers minibooks
  • Map of harbor to identify ships
  • What happened? with 3 photos to examine, discuss and describe
  • Oral history and survivor reports from a nurse, a sailor and a lieutenant commander to read, discuss and summarize
  • Aftermath of Pearl Harbour with photo and info
  • History Notebook Pages in 3 variations

This lapbook is for upper middle schoolers (for 10 – 12 year olds) but can be adapted for younger middle schoolers or extended for junior high students.

I suggested several alternative activities and introduced some advanced skills like ~

  • summarizing reports
  • making inferences
  • coming to conclusions
  • consequences to events
  • characteristics of heroes
  • write newspaper report
  • create an interview
  • give a radio report

With this in mind, I’m sure my 12-year-old will combine minibooks on the notebook pages, rather than do a lapbook.

If you download and use this lapbook, please feel free to comment here and share your photos and stories!

Blessings,

A Little House Notebook

We all love the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder!

We use the free Little House lapbooks downloaded from Homeschoolshare.com for each book in the series.

This year my 12-year-old-middle-schooler-who-thinks-she’s-junior-high asked for notebook pages instead of doing a lapbook.

I could see this transition coming.  As she has matured, she readily writes lengthy and detailed narrations in her History notebook pages.

I created simple Little House notebook pages, using the question prompts from the lapbook download instructions.

Both children still cover the same work, but present it differently.

Little House Booklet with duct tape binding for easy filing

Miss K12 asked for a small booklet, so I formated it to A5 (half the size of normal print paper).

I included a new vocabulary page and I made her several blank pages for her to illustrate while I read aloud.

Here’s your free download ~ Little House on Plum Creek A5 Notebook

Little House Booklet inside

I’m delighted with her lovely, detailed narrations …

Little House booklet notebook pages

… and her beautiful drawings.

Little House booklet illustrations

My 9-year-old still loves doing lapbooks.  She feels comfortable with the small size of the minibooks.  She happily fills them and often still needs more space.

Inside the Little House Lapbook

She, too, will prefer writing her narrations in notebook pages soon.

Our combination pages are a good middle ground for this transition. We often paste minibook elements on a notebook page and it adds detail and dimension.

My youngest child still needs my help writing longer narrations.  She starts writing her own narration, and I give her correct spelling prompts when needed.  If she gets bogged down in tiny details, I encourage her to make her write short, clear sentences and make her point.

Quite often she get physically tired of writing (it is really hard work), but her brain is still full of ideas.  Rather than let it become a slog, I play scribe and she enthusiastically dictates her flow of thought.

Lovely.

Satisfying for both of us.

I love my children directing some of their homeschool choices.  It keeps them motivated.  The freedom and individuality are the most wonderful part of a tailor-made education!

How do you allow for preferences and differences in your homeschooling?

Blessings,

Bugles, Fifes, Drums and Sounds of the Civil War!

Union Army drummer

The internet really brings History to life!

We are covering the Civil War.   I mentioned recently that I try to find new ways for my children to learn, discover and enjoy history.  Well, today we listened to bugle and drum calls, watched videos of musical instruments and discovered how to signal with flags of the Civil War! 

Here are some great Civil War links ~

Bugles

  1. Bugle calls ~ Short, clear description of the different calls with MP3 sound clips.  We loved this!  I asked my youngest child to march and respond to the calls.They recognised several calls from movies!
  2. “WANTED – Young men who like to get up early, make noise all day, love exercise and excitement. If interested, please see the nearest Union Army Recruiter. If that sounds like you, then you may have what it took to be a Civil War drummer. But first, let’s make sure you qualify.”   Read here for the rest of this lovely child’s view of becoming a drummer and a Civil War hero.
  3. ethemes  Civil War: Drummer Boys has a list of other links.
  4. Photos of Civil War instruments at National Music Museum
  5. Very detailed and interesting information and moving historical photos of Civil War Buglers
  6. Bugles, fife and drums soundtrack on video with historical military images and a video of the famous “When Jonny Comes Marching Home” with images of Southern States.
  7. The Taps Project  ~ tribute to moving sounds of the Last Call.

Drums

  1. Wonderful description of drummers, their duties and lifestyle.
  2. YouTube video of Troopers playing Civil War drums.
  3. Craft Activity ~ Make your own Civil War drums.

Signal flags

  1. Wonderful lesson plan pdf with fun hands-on activities ~sew and make flags, make your own cypher discs and send messages just like the Signal Corps!
  2. Lovely clear explanations of the Wig Wag signal system using 2 flags.  Codes and pictures excellent for children.
  3. Flag training lesson with Flash images ~ fantastic page – let the kids see how to wave the flags for letters and words they select!
  4. Images of Signal kits
  5. Step-by-step description of how to assemble your signal flags kits
  6. Index to signal flags manual
  7. Wikipedia image of Signal Corps Kits
  8. Info on the Signal Corps 
  9. A peek at how signalman waved his flags on this short video at Gettysburg National Military Park

I created a 7 page Civil War notebook page package including ~

  • basic half-lined and blank notebook page
  • minibooks on the North and South war issues and Slavery
  • map of states separated on slavery issue
  • The Emancipation Declaration and minibook to cover this
  • Selection of some of Abraham Lincoln’s famous speeches for recitation and copywork
  • Graphic organizers of the Civil War timelines
  • Signal flag images and alphabet codes for messages

Download your free copy here ~ War Between the States

I downloaded some free lapbook elements from Homeschoolshare and Dynamic 2 Moms to supplement our studies not covered on the notebook pages and for the internet studies above.

Bookmark these links for your Civil War studies!  Trust you enjoy your History as it come to life!

Blessings,

The Book of James Lapbook

I’m so excited! 

I created a brand new lapbook for our Bible Study ~

The Book Of

James

  • This lapbook is based entirely on scriptures using the Modern King James Version.
  • These minibooks cover about 90% of the Book of James.
  • The complete download consists of 14 pages with about 34 minibooks, a cover page and other references and notes. For quicker download times I have split this lapbook into 4 smaller files. 🙂
  • Some minibooks have place for personal notes, study, application or activity, but they all can stand alone for memory verses.
  • I created the lapbook for middle-school ages, but it is really suitable for high schoolers and even adults.
  • Because we love to combine our minibooks and notebook pages, I created a basic notebook page for the Book of James. The notebook page has lines for copywork and for personal application. There is an open space for pasting minibooks or illustrations.  I let my children choose which verse they want to copy and write about, and they enjoy the freedom to lay out  and paste their minibooks as they wish.  Here is my 9-year-old’s page:

Here are your downloads:

Some extras on-line:

  • A wonderful James Bible Study handout with the complete text of James and questions with spaces for your write your notes at Padfield.com
  • An online Bible study for children with basic scriptures, corresponding Bible verses, simple principles and some activities at Children’s Bible Study.com

I trust you enjoy this download.  Please feel free to share your lapbook and notebook pages with us!

Blessings,