What Approach to Take? Using Lapbooks, Notebooks, or Unit Studies

There are many ways to approach homeschooling. We have so much freedom and flexibility when it comes to planning our homeschool days. Among the available options are using lapbooks, notebooks, and unit studies. But just what are these approaches, and how do you incorporate them into your homeschool day? 

Lapbooks Allow for Creativity 

A lapbook is defined as “a type of single-subject book created by a student, generally as a supplement to a curriculum” by Wikipedia. Popular homeschooling blogs and websites define lapbooks as interactive collections, a file-folder filled with mini-books, a hands-on method for teaching, or an educational scrapbook. The lapbook serves to showcase what a child has learned in relation to a single subject he or she is studying. Home School in the Woods defines it as “a file folder, folded in a way that it creates a ‘portfolio’ of sorts.” 

Lapbooks allow homeschooling families to focus on specific topics in fun and creative ways. The creation of the components for the lapbook lend themselves to hands-on teaching. As your children study the subject, they will be recording what they have learned as well as creating appropriate components to illustrate that learning. Components of lapbooks include mini-books, timelines, drawings or images, lift flaps for definitions or identifications, and more. Because your children can present what they have learned in a variety of ways, the possibilities are endless. 

While you can use lapbooks for any subject, the studying of history topics lends itself rather naturally to lapbooks. Home School in the Woods has a variety of products that allow your children to create lapbooks while studying different time periods in United States history, ancient history, the Bible, elections, and more! There are products specifically designed for early elementary aged children to middle schoolers (although your high schooler can still join in and learn a lot from the readings, activities, and lessons). 

Lapbooks are also great to use with language arts and science. Whether you want to use a lapbook for individual books or a series of books like Goldtown Beginnings from Susan K. Marlow or you wish to use lapbooks for short stories, there are many ways you can include them for our literature studies. And lapbooks are perfect for introducing a handful of science topics to younger children without overwhelming them with details. 

What Approach to Take? Using Lapbooks, Notebooks, or Unit Studies HomeschoolingFinds.com two notebook photos

Notebooks Can Fit Any Subject 

Using notebooks for your homeschool studies is very similar to using lapbooks, except instead of using a file folder to store all the components, you will be using a notebook or 3-ring binder. Your children will be journaling, documenting, and showcasing what they have learned about a subject in their notebook. If your child is using a notebook, then you would want one for each subject. If you are using a 3-ring binder, then you could divide the subjects and only use one binder. 

Traditionally, notebooks are used for taking notes in class but they can be used for so much more in all subject areas. When using notebooks in your homeschool, you can easily see what your child has learned. Children can write in their notebooks their vocabulary words and definitions and then draw pictures to help them remember the definitions, or they can document a science experiment and the results. 

You can start notebooking in your homeschool with any subject or you can look for specific courses that feature notebooks. For example, SchoolhouseTeachers.com offers Hands-On Notebooking: The United States Homeschool History Course and Exploring Poetry with Notebooking. Both of these courses teach the subject material through the use of notebooking techniques. The US history course provides notebook pages for each state with activities and room to take notes. The poetry course provides notebook pages where your fourth to sixth grader will read one poem per page and answer some writing prompts. 

SchoolhouseTeachers.com Hands-on Notebooking The United States

Unit Studies Allow You to Dig Deeper 

When you want to dig deeper into a particular topic or book, unit studies are a great option! Unit studies focus on one topic or theme and incorporate as many subjects into the study plan. For example, if you were designing a Christmas unit study, you would include reading about the birth of Jesus and popular Christmas stories, work on fractions using cookies (that you bake together), review the calendar by counting down days till the holiday, and rearching how Christians around the world celebrate Christmas. 

You can create your own unit study or find one that is ready made for you. Popular ones shared previously on our website include those from Progeny Press and the Light of Mine Unit Study— Premium from Towers of Light Christian Resources, LLC. Progeny Press offers many literature study guides for every grade, while the study guides from Towers of Light Christian Resources, LLC are only for books in the Towers of Light series. 

Elements of both lapbooking and notebooking can be included in unit studies, but you are not limited to either of those homeschooling methods. The completed unit study may be entirely online; a series of hands-on projects, notebook pages, mini-books; or a combination of any or all of these techniques. 

What Will You Use? 

Have you found something new to try in your homeschool this year? Whether you incorporate lapbooks, notebooks, or unit studies, your homeschool studies will be enriched as you try new methods and techniques. Please share in the comments which method works the best for your family. 

HomeschoolingFinds.com Author 

This article has been written by Kristen Heider. She is the Business Building Team Manager of The Old Schoolhouse® and the Social Media Manager of HomeschoolingFinds.com. She shares more about her family’s homeschooling journey at A Mom’s Quest Teach.

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