Monday, March 28, 2011

Entering the World of Lapbooks

I'm not really sure why they call them "lapbooks"; they are basically a file folder (or 2 or 3) that hold projects and information on a particular subject or "unit".  I think most homeschoolers use them for Unit Studies in which they use a broad subject to encompass all aspects of their schooling.  For example The Solar System could be your unit, while you were studying The Solar System , which is obviously science related, your child could write a Bible verse about space or creation for Bible and for handwriting practice, maybe a creative writing project about the planets, adding the 9 family since there are 9 planets etc.
When I started on my homeschooling adventure I was teaching my eager 4 year old to read.  He had played with the Fridge Phonics game endlessly, and after he learned all 26 Uppercase letters, their sounds and the alphabet song basically on his own, I purchased him the set of lowercase letters which came with a comparison chart to put on the fridge.  He literally learned them all in a week.  I knew then that it was time to teach him to read.  I'm not one to pass up an opportunity like that.  At 18 or 20 months this same child was potty trained.  Not because I pushed him to be, but because I was willing to go along with it when he tinkled on the potty on his own.  After that he ran around naked for 3 days and the deed was done.  I'm not saying every child is like that.  Heaven knows my others have not been!  I'm trying to give you perspective on my oldest son.
So, anyway, with an oldest child like that I was very driven and had high goals for my homeschool.  I still do, but my perspective is changing just a bit.  To this point I have been all about books.  I'm still all about books, but I'm excited about adding in some new stuff, particularly for the benefit of my younger "students" who don't read....yet.
When I look at preschool and early elementary curriculums I'm usually a little discouraged.  I feel like they are so general that it's almost not worth it for my kids.  I want to delve in deep! Let them catch what they can, and what they don't will be caught next time around when we cover the material again in another venue, as I'm sure we will.  So far this has worked for me.  But Apologia Science was a little bit much for us this year.  So was The Story of the Thirteen Colonies, our history book for this year (at least).  This is because we mostly just read aloud, there were few "experiments" and we found ourselves getting bogged down.
At Christmas I wanted to do a Christmas Unit.  I went to the Library each week and got countless books about Christmas around the world and the origins of Santa Claus but I had no way to document what we did other than a book list.  The kids got confused and bored with all the facts and timelines.  We didn't really do any projects so the whole thing really felt like a flop.
Several weeks ago I met for coffee with a homeschooling friend.  We've sort of been working through Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day together but separately.  We were trying to come up with a plan as we leave birds and delve into flying insects.  In the process she introduced me to lapbooks.  She's a much more hands on homeschooler.  She has a special needs child and really does a fantastic job; she's so creative.  Here is her blog in case you're interested.
I sure do wish I'd known about Lapbooks at Christmas time.  Anyway, for two weeks in March we did some projects and learned about Ireland, St. Patrick's Day and Rainbows.  It wasn't exhaustive, and I felt entirely disorganized in the process, but it was a good start and I'm pretty excited about how it turned out.

This is the front cover of the Lapbook.  My 3 yr old decided to color on it while I was getting the camera.

Inside the right flap is our Bible verse about Rainbows.

 While I do feel like some of the things we did were just so we could put something in the lapbook, some of what we did really pushed us--like our timeline of St. Patrick's life.  Counting by three's was relevant.  Something green was more for fun, since Silas has known his colors for many years now.

We added a flap to the center section so that we could fit more stuff in.  I will do this a little differently in the future, but for now this works.

 We created a pocket for his creative writing story to go in.  The pocket also served as a place for our Irish Reading List.  Here is an example of how this lapbook pushed us to another level.  This was Silas' first creative writing assignment.  Until now everything has been copy work for him.  He did a great job!  We did have some tears about rewriting for a perfect final draft, but overall I'm very pleased with his work.

 We talked about how rainbows are formed, and made a rainbow with a mirror, a glass of water and a flashlight.  The pictures of that didn't come out very well.  We also talked about primary and secondary colors and formed a "rainbow" in a glass.  Then we documented our work.  We put this in our lapbook too.  I just realized the picture of our color wheel isn't here.  If you look closely you can see it in the first picture at the top of this post.

Lastly we talked about Geography.  This is the back of the
lapbook, and a picture of Silas building the Europe GeoPuzzle
to the left.

I don't think I will do a complete Unit Study  again, I felt like I was doing things not because they were relevant to us, but because they fit with the study, which isn't really how I want our school to function, but I am loving this new venue and I am definitely going to use this to document our work as we study butterflies next month!

1 comment:

  1. Aww, thanks for the mention! I'm glad we met for coffee! We should make it happen more often. A friend of mine mentioned yesterday that he uncle has bees! He lives in Alabama, not sure how far away, but I am thinking we might need to make a field trip! Oh, and I love your lapbook!