What is a Lapbook?

A lapbook is one of my favorite ways to make topics “stick” in my kids’ brains.

When I posted a picture of our Oceans lapbook on my Facebook page, I assumed everyone was familiar with lapbooking but apparently that is not the case.

I’m excited to share how lapbooks helped our homeschool, because even my adult children get nostalgic when I pull out their old lapbooks. Plus I have the opportunity to share some awesome lapbooks created by real life moms (not some fancy publishing company), and hopefully convince a few homeschoolers to try one of our favorite learning tools.

what is a lapbook?

What is a lapbook?

In Happy Homeschool terms, a lapbook is a really cool hands-on method of teaching your children about anything! You don’t have to be a homeschooler to use a lapbook to teach your kids. Anyone can make one to help reinforce ideas your kids are learning at school, extra curricular activities, or church projects.

I love them because my kids seem to remember lapbook learning activities better than read alouds or worksheets.

According to Squidoo, lapbooking is defined as:

…making mini-books covering details that you’ve studied. After making a variety of mini-books about a larger topic, all the books are put together in a large folder. The finished product is called a lapbook because it’s large and covers your lap.

Lapbooks take on many different shapes and sizes, it just depends on how creative you are or want to be. We use manila folders and colorful card stock to create our lapbooks. I’m not the most crafty person in the world, so I stick to the basics.

To make the outer cover open the manila folder then fold each side into each other. It should look like the tri-fold boards kids use at the science fair.

Lapbooks are a great way to reinforce what your children are learning.

Inside the manila folder you can glue or staple card stock to make “pages” or pockets for additional space.

Lapbooks are a great way to reinforce what your children are learning.

One thing I needed to learn when creating lapbooks was to let it go. (Cue Frozen) Your child’s lapbook shouldn’t be perfect! If you do the work, they won’t learn the material. I had to let go of my perfectionist tendencies and allow my children to make less than perfect lapbooks so they learned the concepts. 

I soon realized that when my kids created the lapbook they were learning. When I created the lapbook so it was “perfect” they didn’t learn much at all.

That being said, I did use free templates to create our books.

Once the lapbook has been created it is time to start filling it with information. At first I thought lapbooks were only for science or history, however I quickly realized lapbooks reinforce any subject!

After years of eyeing it at homeschool conventions I did purchase The Ultimate Guide to Lap Books, but the rest of the resources I found for free on the internet.

If you don’t have a creative bone in your body, many of my favorite publishers offer lapbook templates to go with the books. They are inexpensive and many are available for immediate download on

If you are looking for inspiration to start lapbooking I’ve included photos of a few of our lapbooks as well as some reader submitted photos to get your creative juices flowing.

Lapbook Examples

After I realized that lapbooks weren’t only for science and history, we started using them for all our subjects. This lapbook was used with Discovering Jesus in Genesis for our bible lessons. Each day we read one lesson then create a mini book, symbol, or other small craft to put in our lapbook.

Lapbooks are a great way to reinforce what your children are learning.

Lapbooks are a great way to reinforce what your children are learning.

Lapbooks are a great way to reinforce what your children are learning.

Remember all those leftover scrapbook supplies you have in your closet? You can use that themed paper in your lapbooks. This is our Oceans book, I used a manilla folder for this book too, but I turned the book so it opens to the top and bottom not the sides.

Lapbooks are a great way to reinforce what your children are learning.

Lapbooks are a great way to reinforce what your children are learning.

This weather lapbook is from Mrs. Jone’s Creation Station. 

weather lapbook

Our summer cloud science experiment would be a great addition to this weather lapbook.

Tina used a legal size folder for this anatomy lapbook. Lapbooks aren’t only for younger kids! Even high schoolers can make them.

human body lapbook

You can get the printables free for this human body lapbook at Tina’s Homeschool. Don’t forget to check out our virtual anatomy study resources too.

little house in the big woods lapbook

Additionally lapbooks are a great compliment to your homeschool read alouds. You can find the tutorial for this Little House in the Big Woods lapbook over at Little House Living.

My (free)  State Notebooking pages would be a perfect addition to this US lapbook shared by Marine Corps Nomads.

Reader submitted lapbooks

Jennifer used a lapbook to reinforce addition for her younger children.

Money lapbook (from Jennifer)

Obedience Lapbook  (you can see the whole tutorial on Peace Creek on the Prairie)

Opera Lapbook (from Jimmie’s Collage)

Eclipse Lapbook (from Jimmie’s Collage)

As you can see from these examples, the possibilities are endless! If you would like more lapbooking resources check if your local library has The Ultimate Lap Book Handbook. I referenced it often when creating our books.

A few of my favorite (free) online resources.

Lapbook Lessons:  This free site that contains a wealth of resources including templates, resources, printables, and entire projects. However you may have issues with this site if you use Chrome or Firefox.

Homeschool Share:  This is another free site with tons of resources. Free templates and entire projects are available to download.

You might also enjoy:

what is a lapbook

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Teaching Textbooks: Curriculum Review

My husband discovered Teaching Textbooks at a homeschool convention many years ago. Frustrated with teaching math I saw it as a way out. Before Teaching Textbooks I had used Bob Jones, Abeka, Horizons, Miquon, Rod and Staff, Life of Fred (see Life of Fred review here), and Chalkdust, Saxon.

Some might call me a homeschool math expert since I’ve used most of the curriculum published for homeschoolers, but in reality I was desperate for something that worked for my family. Except for Saxon, which sent my kids into hysterics every single day, the other programs were all good and I liked them. But I had a problem. I was homeschooling four or five kids at the time and I needed to find a subject they could do on their own, Teaching Textbooks might be the answer to my math problem. 

Teaching textbooks math curriculum review

Before Teaching Textbooks, as my children progressed through the higher levels of math they would go through the book on their own and I would check their work. Inevitably they would come to a point (usually around lesson 75) where they didn’t understand the concept being taught and I would then spend two to three hours looking through all the previous lessons to help explain the current lesson they couldn’t understand. This was frustrating for my kids and for me!

When I heard about Teaching Textbooks it seemed too good to be true. The lessons were on CD’s and for some levels everything was automated including the grade book. I was finished teaching math FOREVER!!! Or so I thought.

Over the past four years I’ve used Math 3 Math 5Math 7, Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry, and Pre-Calculus. If you are doing the math you’ll know that I’ve spent a lot of money on this curriculum.

Pros of Teaching Textbooks Math Curriculum 

Minimal Teacher Involvement: I think this is a positive because you can follow along with your child, but it is not necessary. In the four years I’ve been using this program I’ve probably spent less than 4 hours helping my kids with math. Since I was looking for a hands-off approach to math this definitely worked.

Teaching Textbook Lessons are Easy to Understand: The lessons are presented in an easy to understand way, especially at the younger levels. The teacher speaks slowly and the graphics are interesting but not overwhelming.

Favorite for Kids: My kids and many others love Teaching Textbooks. My younger boys ask to do math every day because they enjoy it. After years of crying through math lessons it is nice to have a program my kids actually like.

Computerized Grading: For all grades and math levels, Teaching Textbooks offers the entire program on CD rom and is totally automated, including automatic grading as soon as the child answers the question. The program tracks your child’s progress, lets you know which problems they missed, and even keeps a grade book. This makes record keeping for math very simple.

NonConsumable: There are no workbooks, so more than one child can use the curriculum. Even the computer programs can be reset so siblings can use them.

Excellent Customer Support: I haven’t needed customer support too often, but I’ve been impressed with their prompt responses and willingness to help.

They Sell Single Copies of the Cd’s: If you have a careless child who gets into a fight with his brother and in the process cracks a CD in half, you only need to replace one CD, not the whole set. I wouldn’t know this from experience, of course.

Cons of Teaching Textbooks Math Curriculum

Expensive: Teaching Textbooks Math 3 is $119 while Saxon Math 3 is around $60. The price goes up and in high school are close to $200, with Pre-Calculus selling for $185.00. Because Teaching Textbooks is such a popular program used sets are hard to find and the prices are still fairly high. (To their credit, the prices have stayed the same for over six years).

Fewer Review Problems: If you are familiar with Saxon (or Abeka to some extent) you know those programs incorporate a mind numbing amount of review problems. 🙂 Teaching Textbooks offers significantly less in the way of review.

For a child who needs concepts reviewed thoroughly and drilled consistently this is problematic. This would be one of my biggest complaints about the program. All my kids who used Teaching Textbooks in the younger grades still struggle with their math facts. My children who used Saxon (which we learned to love in later years) have a more solid math foundation.

Minimal Teacher Involvement: This program was designed for kids to use on their own. If you want to be involved in your child’s math lessons this is probably not the best curriculum.

teaching textbooks math curriculum

Low Test Scores: This is my biggest problem with Teaching Textbooks. My daughter starting using this program since Algebra 1, after using several different curriculum from K-8. She scored high on all her Teaching Textbooks tests and has an A average for math over the past four years.

This year she took the ACT and the College Placement Test and scored poorly on the math sections of both tests. Now, part of the low score was because she did not prep for the test (my fault, she only had two weeks notice). But she aced the language sections of both tests, receiving a perfect on one of them. This tells me she knows how to take a standardized test.

The disconnect comes at this point. Why would a child who has made all A’s on the Teaching Textbook’s tests for four years score below average on standardized tests? I researched this a bit on the internet and it seems to be happening to more than a few kids who have used the high school level curriculum.

Part of the problem seems to be Teaching Textbook’s method of teaching, they aren’t teaching to the test, which to me is a good thing. But, when you have a child who needs good, above average test scores because they want to go to college, this is a bad thing.

After spending another 5 years teaching homeschool math (since writing this review) I’ve come to a another conclusion about why I believe Teaching Textbooks failed my daughter in regards to test prep and why I ultimately switched to Saxon math and used it for the last several years.

One of the benefits of homeschooling is that kids can work at their own pace. Teaching Textbooks is no different, it allows kids to go back and correct their answers and there isn’t much focus on math drills. During standardized tests, children are timed and must solve problems quickly, and math facts must be memorized in order to complete all the problems during the allotted time. For our family, Saxon had a better mix of review, timed tests, and general problems than any other curriculum we used.

I do not think Teaching Textbooks is a bad math curriculum, but because of the testing issue I did not use it for any of my other kids when they got to high school. Up to Pre-Algebra I think the lessons are adequate, but beginning in Algebra 1, this curriculum is probably not the best choice for our family. If you have your heart set on Teaching Textbooks, I would recommend a significant time investment in college test prep before taking any standardized test. For me, I would rather spend the money on a curriculum that builds that into the lessons. When you have a child taking 7 to 8 credit hours, working, and participating in extra-curricular activities, there isn’t much time left for frequent test prep.

So, while I loved Teaching Textbooks, I’m disappointed with the test scores. I’d love to hear your feedback on Teaching Textbooks at the high school grade levels. If you’ve used it, has your child scored well on the ACT/SAT/CPT or have their test scores contradicted the scores received on the Teaching Textbooks tests?

Editor’s note: Math is not my daughter’s strongest subject, but before using Teaching Textbooks she always scored above the 85 percentile in math on the standardized tests.

UPDATE: As you know, not every curriculum is perfect for every family.  While I explained above why I’m not 100% sold on this curriculum, my managing editor and friend, Linda, loves Teaching Textbooks and wrote a review here explaining her position.

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

July Holidays and Fun Days

You might not be schooling this month, but you can always throw in some fun learning opportunities with these July Holidays and Fun Days!

Are you ready for some summer fun?  You might not be schooling this month, but you can always throw in some fun learning opportunities with these July Holidays and Fun Days!

July Holidays and Fun Days

July 4 – Independence Day

July 7 – Chocolate Day

Weight Watchers shares Why Chocolate Is Good For You. So try one of these chocolate recipes:

Dark Chocolate Fudge Brownies at The Happy Housewife

July 18 – National Ice Cream Day

July 24 – Amelia Earhart’s Birthday

July is also Blueberry Month.

Try these blueberry recipes:

Blueberry Streusel Muffins at The Happy Housewife


This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

June Holidays and Fun Days

Whether you’re throwing end-of-the-year homeschool parties, hitting the pool, or pressing through the summer on schedule, set aside some quality time to enjoy a few June holidays and fun days.

Whether you're throwing end-of-the-year homeschool parties or hitting the pool set aside some quality time to enjoy a few June holidays and fun days.

June happens to be one of the lighter months without many holidays, so carve out some memory making opportunities! Turn on the sprinklers, make homemade ice-cream, picnic outside, watch the sun set, and catch some fireflies!

June Holidays and Fun Days

June 4 – Applesauce Cake Day

June 12 – National Doughnut Day (2nd Friday)

Try a few recipes from The Happy Housewife:

June 14 – Flag Day

How is flag day different than July 4th?  Flag Day is the anniversary of the adoption of the Stars and Stripes as the official US flag in 1777.

June 18 – International Picnic Day

Go for a picnic and remember to pack some kid essentials like sun block, bug jar, zip lock bags (for treasures), binoculars (bird watching), and wipes. You might also like these ideas:

June 18 – Father’s Day (3rd Sunday)

Nothing says “Happy Father’s Day” in our home quite like barbecue brisket. The dad in your home  might not be a fan of brisket, so get with your kids and plan some of dad’s favorite meals.  Forget the tie and have fun cooking together for the special dad in your home.  Don’t forget to call a father-in-law or another special dad who made an impact on your life!

June 21 – Summer Begins

Here are some great ideas for you and your family this summer:

June 25 – Eric Carle’s Birthday

Whatever you’re doing this June, enjoy the moments to the fullest!

More posts from Stef

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.