Lap Books™ are being incorporated into at least a few unit study programs, so I thought I ought to learn a bit more about lap books to see why they are becoming such a popular idea. If someone's not yet sold on the lap book concept, The Ultimate Lap Book ™ Handbook will convince you.
Lap Books offer creative ways for children to record information they are learning and create attractive presentations of that information, as well as use the information to study. A Lap Book is essentially a creatively folded manila file folder with lots of smaller creatively cut and folded pieces of paper that are attached in different ways. This loose definition reflects the realm of creative options that might be used to create lap books.
Lap Books incorporate Dinah Zike's creative "books," teaching six of Dinah's basic approaches here and referring you to Dinah's The Big Book of Books and Activities for even more ideas.
As you begin a unit study, you have your children create the small "books" such as a layered booklet made from two sheets of paper that is used to record vocabulary words and definitions. The next week they create a TriFold Book™ with drawings related to the study. The next week, they might create a Hamburger Fold™ booklet where they write about what they have learned. You accumulate these smaller "books" in a zipped baggie until they are all completed. Then children create their lap book from a file folder, adding extensions as needed to fit all their books. Decorating the final product with an attractive cover is the culmination.
I've vastly oversimplified all the options you might choose to create a lap book, but the process can be quite simple or very complex--it's up to you!
It's easy to overlook the subtitle of this book since the word lap books is the real novelty. But this books is 110 pages long and only the first 24 pages deal directly with lap books. The second section of the book teaches other types of books: simple books, stick books, pizza books (I absolutely love this one!!), hardcover books, accordion books, and peek-a-boo books. There are detailed, easy-to-follow instructions and illustrations for creating all of these.
The last half of the book features "book blueprints"--detailed instructions for creating different types of books for different subject areas: Bible, history, literature, math, science, and social studies. For example, there are detailed directions for creating a medieval life lap book with children in grades 4 - 8. This includes a list of topics you might cover, materials needed, directions and topics for nine small books, then ideas for final assembly into a lap book that looks like a castle with a drawbridge that closes up over the entrance. Within the history section are five complete blueprints for such lap books plus briefer blueprints for five more other types of books children might create.
Lap books are a great way to engage children in learning, especially those who prefer arts and crafts to essay writing. They are much more likely to want to write as part of the process of creating the project than as a stand-alone assignment.
Lap books work especially well with unit studies but they can be used with most other educational approaches as a means of reinforcing and providing evidence of learning.