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

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  1. I love these! I use these with my kindergarten students. When we do a topic we do a four part method which involves a system sometimes termed as ‘plan, do and review’, led by the children. When they choose what they would like to learn (currently we are doing Weather) we have two discussions: 1. What do we know already? 2. What would we like to learn/know? This is all recorded. We then study our topic and all the information phots crafts etc go into our lap book, along with the two set of discussion we had at the beginning. At the end of our topic we have two moer discussions- 3. What do we know now that we didn’t before? and 4. What would we liked to have learned if we were to do it again? Sometimes the last discussion leads us to another couple of weeks of the topic. Again this is recoreded int he lapbooks. It is really good for them as they can go back through them and reinforces what they have already learned.

    Yours are brilliant! I will be borrowing some of your fantastic ideas!
    Allison 🙂

  2. Thanks for posting about lapbooks on FB! I saw the post yesterday and we made our first one today – it was a super fun way to review and summarize the main topics we’ve learned on seedlings! Looking ahead to the summer and studying the 50 States! Thank you!

  3. From a public school teacher’s standpoint, these are great (I spent ten years in first grade, and am now loving being in third). In our world, we call these foldables or 3D graphic organizers. They are wonderful tools to synthesize learning, and great for those kinesthetic learners (as most little ones are!) Keep up the great work!

  4. We did our first lap book last week!!!!!! Love them! Our’s was on ‘compassion & mercy’. We used the veggie tales Jonah movie to anchor it…….then did origami whales :), looked up meanings for both words, and watched a national geographic documentary on whales! All around good fun and learning!!!!! Thanks for the great idea!!!!!!!

  5. I homeschool my kindergartener, and I’ve been eager to try this! I was first worried that making a lap book would take too much time/energy right now, because I’ve got to babies, as well. However, once you mentioned that the lesson seemed to stick with the kids longer through this process, I am now convinced to try them! My 5-year-old is crafty and loves to write. I think she’d really enjoy it. Thanks so much for the resources!!!

  6. Stephanie says:

    I’ve been looking through your website and I love it. This on the lapbooks is just awesome! My son and I are doing oceans also right now. Instead of a lapbook I bought a huge roll of contractors brown paper for covering the floor when painting. Anyways what my son and I are doing is this. We cut a huge length of paper. At the top we put the sun and drew some waves and painted the ocean water of the sunlit level. (We’re going by levels in the sea covering basic animals and so forth) We’ve put the animals that we have studied along and made crafts that could fit on it. We basically have our own little graph of what the ocean looks like with animals & plants. It hangs on our wall in our entry way. Also we do a little animal report with what we have learned about. Yesterday was humpback whales and today was blue whales. Thanks for your ideas. I really like them.

  7. Thanks for sharing real examples! it is frustrating to see perfect examples time after time. Great post.

  8. Elizabeth says:

    So glad I found this!!! Much less intimidated now! 🙂

  9. I’d not heard of these before but absolutely love it! Can’t wait to have a go at some with my little ones, what a great idea

  10. Thank you for this fantastic post. I posted one of our old lapbooks recently and when someone asked what a lapbook is… I found this post to direct them to. No need for my explanation. Yours is fantastic. Thank you very much.

  11. Nancy Billings says:


    Thank you for the great photos of your terrific lap books. I have been home schooling for over fifteen years but had only heard of lap books recently. I love the idea! I’m going to give it a go when we start up school again in August. Thank you for the easy access to this creative idea.

  12. I like the idea. It makes you to be more creative.

  13. Thanks for the resources! This is something I’d like to try with my oldest son (he’s 7)

  14. Tracy VanDemark says:

    Thanks for these! I am a bit confused though. Are these something you help the kids make after they have studied a topic or are these things you put together yourself for the child to interact with? I just watched a video on youtube about lapbooks and was surprised to notice there were things left blank that needed to be filled in so it looked like a giant fun workbook to give to the kids to complete. Can you elaborate?

    • Lapbooks are something the kids make (usually with help) as they are learning about a topic. I would not call it a workbook, but they vary so much, it is hard to define.

  15. Thanks I finally understand what and how to use a lap book. I am very excited to try to use one.

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