Sometimes in our well-intentioned plans of giving our children a thorough education, we forget the fun. We get so busy checking boxes off a list and meeting academic guidelines that we overlook the creative learning opportunities that truly encourage a lifelong love of learning.
After all, don’t we want our children to enjoy the learning process, not just endure it?
Even though providing a customized educational experience and nurturing a love of reading and learning were some of my primary reasons for homeschooling in the first place, I lost sight of that for a bit when we first began. My oldest daughter was an eager student so it was easy to just plow through the boxed curriculum I thought we needed to meet the standards (hint: we didn’t really need it) and call it good.
She was learning, but there wasn’t much joy in it.
I don’t know why I thought there was some kind of magical switch to flip between the toddler years into the preschool years and then kindergarten. I subconsciously thought things had to become more rigorous and less fun because that was the mindset I had from my own public school experience. I was wrong!
To make a long story short, once it sunk in that we didn’t have to do school at home to do homeschooling, I began to take a completely different approach. I decided to take advantage of my daughter’s creative skills and use them to help her learn. From that moment on, we began our delight-directed learning journey and we haven’t looked back!
Homeschooling with Lapbooks
Lapbooks are a creative learning tool that I discovered when my daughter was 7 years old. She was immediately drawn into the learning because she could create a unique visual display of everything that she had learned on a particular topic of interest. She had a chance to color, cut, paste, and assemble her very own “book” of knowledge by making a lapbook.
What is a lapbook?
One way to describe a lapbook would be sort of like a scrapbook for homeschoolers. They are essentially project books that your children can hold in their laps and flip through. It is a great, hands-on way to teach your children about a wide variety of topics. Lapbooks can contain mini-books, drawings, graphs, diagrams, timelines and a variety of other visual materials that can make the topic interesting and engage your child’s attention. They are also known as interactive notebooks.
Here is a photo of one of our basic lapbooks:
The supplies needed for a lapbook are pretty simple:
- file folders
- printer and paper
- colored pencils, markers, or crayons
You can use fancier cardstock or colored paper to add interest. Lapbooks can be as simple or as detailed as you choose. You can purchase pre-designed lapbooks or create your own. The possibilities are endless!
Delight-directed Learning and Lapbooking
One of the best ways to truly engage your children in learning is to study topics that interest them. Just like using living books, choosing a topic that your child has a special talent for or curiosity about enriches the learning.
I recommend keeping a running list of ideas so that you can always add them to your homeschool day whenever you need inspiration or a bit of fun.
I believe you can give your children a full education using delight-directed learning methods, without ever purchasing a boxed curriculum at all. I know that sounds like a radical idea when you’re first starting out and you feel overwhelmed.
I don’t mean that everyone has to choose that path and stick to it strictly. I do recommend allowing flexibility, though, and at least choosing one day a week to be more relaxed and creative with your learning. Lapbooks can be a great project just for that purpose! Creativity encourages curiosity and curiosity encourages learning.
The Benefits of Lapbooking
There are many benefits of homeschooling with lapbooks. Here are just a few:
- All ages can be included in the process. This is great if you have a wide range of ages. Lapbook projects can become family projects and the learning can easily be adjusted by age and ability.
- Basic skills like cutting and pasting can be practiced for the little ones.
- Deeper study on a subject or book of particular interest (great delight-directed or literature-rich activity)
- Allows for artistic creativity.
- Makes the lesson more memorable.
- Nice keepsake for the future.
- Hands-on activity for easily distracted learners.
- Visual aid for visual learners.
- Can be incorporated into all methods of teaching and learning styles.
- Excellent project to include in review portfolios if that is a requirement in your state.
Give Lapbooks a Try
Don’t think of lapbooks as busywork or too artsy-craftsy. It’s true that homeschooling with lapbooks can become art projects in themselves, but they aren’t exclusively just for looks. Children really do retain what they learn when they take ownership and create a visual display.
Lapbooks are an immersive, multisensory, hands-on way to learn. And I promise you don’t have to use glitter.
This post was written by….
Sara Jordan is the homeschooling mom of three daughters. Her oldest graduated homeschool high school in 2020, while her younger daughters are still in the elementary and middle school years. She is passionate about helping other families find and follow their own unique homeschooling path.
This article is a part of our How We Homeschool Series; a collection of content from full-time, veteran homeschoolers sharing their own experiences on the versatility and diversity of homeschooling. You can read more about the series, and see all of the content, by clicking the image below.