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So, What is a Lapbook, Anyway?

by Amy Smith

So, What is a Lapbook, Anyway?If you have been homeschooling for very long, you have probably heard someone mention lapbooks. As other homeschool teachers rave about their child’s latest lapbook about George Washington, you smile and nod, wondering silently, “What is a lapbook?” No, their child didn’t write a novel about George Washington so big you have to set it in your lap to be able to hold onto it. It is just a regular file folder filled with mini books (little booklets made of different shapes and sizes). Your children cut out, fold, and write inside each differently shaped mini book about a topic and glue the min books inside the file folder. Here are the components to a lapbook.

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File Folder

You start your lapbook with a simple file folder. You can use a plain manilla one, or get fancy and use colored or patterned ones. Open up the file folder, and fold in each side to meet in the middle. You can also add a flip up extension or another file folder to make multiple pages. You will find instructions with pictures on how to add extensions here.

Mini Books

The mini books are the meat of your lapbook. Mini books are little booklets cut into a wide variety of shapes, folds, and sizes. You can find free templates in many places or you can design your own. You can find some templates here.

But, what do we do with the Mini Books?

Let’s say we are studying George Washington. You might decide your children need to know about his family tree, his time in the Revolutionary War, his time as President, and something about Mount Vernon. You choose a different style of mini book for each topic and write about the topic inside the book. You will then glue the mini books onto the inside of the file folder.


You can add decorations to the front, back, or fill in any empty space. These could be clip art, coloring pages, or free hand drawings. It is nice to have a title on the front to help you find it later for review.

That, essentially is lapbooking; although there are many different variations on the mini books and the way you put them together. Whether you design your own or use some of the many free available online, give one a try. That way, the next time you hear someone talk about their child’s great baseball lapbook, you can smile with understanding and join in the conversation.