How to Make Lapbooks

I used to hate lapbooks, you know, the prefabricated kind that is basically just busywork. The booklets force you to look up only what the maker of the lapbook wants you to look up. All of it is a tedious research project, but you're not given a chance to make sense out of it all, to conceptualize it, to think about it deeply. Instead it's all pulled to pieces, and you spend all your time trying to find this bit and that bit of information to fill in a blank or a definition. I was ready to pull my hair out by the end of the project.

After listening to an interesting lapbooking seminar, I thought to myself, “Maybe I've been doing it wrong. Maybe we should make up our own lapbooks.” After all, there were three-dimensional textures connected to these fun lapbooks in the pictures. I suddenly felt inspired.

I decided to do a lapbook with my four-year-old girl. I brainstormed what topics she might be interested in. I suddenly realized one day that she didn't know her seasons (even though she could read and write). I guess with kid number four, you just expect them to know these things. So I chose to do a lapbook for the autumn, since we were entering that season. My daughter did some copy work from a poem about the fall, and I glued her page to black construction paper. I folded a red folder into three sections, and my daughter placed some leaves on the folder. With brown, green, and yellow paint, we used an old toothbrush to spray all over the paper. After lifting the leaves off, it looked really nice. My daughter cut out pictures of the autumn. We did leaf rubbings and put the best one in her project. Folding it shut, she glued some block letters spelling “autumn” vertically on the folder. On the other side she glued autumn pictures. We glued some silk autumn leaves onto the project. It looked beautiful.

In the winter, my daughter wanted to do another lapbook. We folded a blue folder into three parts, and she glued white block letters spelling “winter” on the front. She cut out pictures of winter fun, such as snowmen, snow-covered trees and mountains, and a decorated gingerbread house. She did copy work of a poem about the winter. We sprayed white paint across the inside of the folder, so that it looked like snow. (We did this with a toothbrush again.) Then we cut out paper snowflakes. We glued it all together, and it looked beautiful.

When spring came around, my daughter was ready to do a spring lapbook. This time she cut out pictures of flowers blooming. She copied out her spring poem, and we glued it to a red piece of paper before gluing it to the back. Normally we backed cut-out pictures with black paper, which looked good for the other two lapbooks, but for this spring lapbook, I didn't want it to look so heavy. After gluing the block letters for “spring,” there was a certain something lacking. I went to the craft supply store and found some lovely, three-dimensional flower stickers that I bought for my daughter. She stuck those flowers all over her project. You could also use pressed flowers, real ones that are dry. (You just press a flower between wax paper in a heavy book and wait a couple of weeks.)

My daughter showed off each of her lapbooks to anyone who came to our house. They looked great and were fun to make. In the summer neither one of us wanted to make a lapbook. My daughter was writing her own original stories constantly, and didn't want to be copying things any more. We were doing so much that summer that I decided to just move on. It was fun while it lasted!

For more information about Early Childhood Art Projects, click here.