I have intended to write about lapbooking (other terms and spellings: lap books, lapbook, lapbooking, also spelled lapbooks and lapbooking) and notebooks (notebook, notebooking, note book, note books, note booking) for a while. Here is some information for you in case you are interested!
About Lapbooks and Lapbooking
Lapbooking is the term for taking a paper file folder and refolding it so that there are two covers on the front. It is held vertically, with the 11 inch long side being held in a vertical position. It is refolded so that one cover opens to the left and the other cover opens to the right. This lapbook is dedicated to one topic of study. The child then makes miniature books and little folded flaps about content of that subject area. Those little books are glued to the inside of this lapbook. Extensions can be made, with card stock paper or tag board paper, to make the lapbook have more surfaces in which to place books. The cover can be decorated.
A school teacher named Dinah Zike may have been the first person to write down directions for mini books and to have published in book format. Zike has many ideas for mini books, in many forms. Zike does not use the term lapbooking, from what I have read and seen. The first book on this subject by Zike which I read was “Big Book of Books and Activities: an illustrated guide for teachers, parents, and anyone who works with kids!”
(See Tobin’s Lab here, be sure to scroll down.)
Another book by Zike which is helpful is “Dinah Zike’s Big Book of How to Make Projects: how to design, develop and make projects for kindergarten through college”, alternate sub-title: “fast and easy projects from Kindergarten through College”. This takes these ideas to a higher level.
(See info and customer reviews on Amazon, here).
Also available from homeschooling family business: Tobin’s Lab, see here (scroll down).
I learned about “Tammy Teaches Lap Books”, (scroll down), which I bought for $10. This is a wonderful video in which Tammy talks more about how great lapbooks are and she shows many of the lapbooks that her children created. This is a different and very helpful way to see how great these are. I felt this was more inspiring than looking at tiny illustrations in the Zike book.
I tried lapbooking with my older son but he was too young. I ended up doing all the planning and even the execution, everything from the cutting of the paper, to the writing, to the gluing. I shelved the whole idea until he is able to work more with his own ideas and with his own retained information to create a lapbook which is truly his own.
Then when I attended the MassHope homeschooling conference in April 2004 I saw that Tammy Duby had recently published a book about lapbooking. I bought it immediately! I feel that this book is superior to the Zike books. If a person wanted to buy just one book to get started on lapbooking, I’d recommend this book. I also still recommend the video. If you still have more money to burn and don’t think you will get overwhelmed, you can also buy the Zike books. Please also know that much money can be spent on fancy papers, colorful card stock, glues, and colored folders. So if you are looking for ways to spend money, just know that you will have even more shopping to do if you want to. If you want to make simple lapbooks you don’t have to spend a lot of money. If you are a person who likes to go crazy in the craft store, you will have plenty of opportunities to shop, just go to the scrapbooking aisle and spend, spend spend. Anyway, the wonderful book by Duby is called here.
Alice Robertson’s Homeschooling with Notebooks website is here.
Discuss Lapbooking Online
There is also a YahooGroup! for lapbookers to discuss lapbooking called "Lapbooks" and to show images of their children's work, check it out here. Presently they have over 3500 members! That is the oldest and largest YahooGroup! on the topic, there are now also smaller groups and I see some families have made businesses out of making products for lapbooking.
About Notebooks and Notebooking
The big difference between notebooks and lapbooks is that in lapbooking the information is made into tiny books which are glued inside of a file folder. With notebooking a child may make little books but they are glued into pages which are 3 hole punched and put inside of a 3 ring binder notebook. With notebooking, regular pages can be added as well as pressed leaves or other objects. In other words the notebook pages might just be flat and not have "mini books" in them. Also some people use notebooks like scrapbooks and can add in things like pressed flowers, real dried leaves, photographs your family took, et cetera. Notebooking can cover a whole subject such as “Ancient History” and may hold an inch thick stack of papers, while lapbooking is smaller/thinner and holds less information. Subjects for lapbooking may cover smaller topics such as “Ancient Egypt” or “Pyramids”.
Adhesive Options For Lapbooking and Notebooking
One tricky part with lapbooks and notebooks is what adhesive to use to glue the papers together?
While some report they use regular white glue, most find this bubbles the paper.
I have heard spray adhesives such as 3M brand work well. I have tried this. Note that there are many warnings on the label about safety while using it. The product is full of chemicals that are harmful to humans. It is not a non-toxic product, and it is advised to use it outdoors or in a "well-ventilated area" which normal American homes are not set up to be. I have read of the safety concerns with some chemicals in this spray adhesive product and basically it should never be inhaled, not even by accident while using it outdoors.
I also found that the final lapbook stunk like the chemicals, as well, for months! That adhesive spray should not be used by children or around children and I believe it says so on the product label.
I have also had problems with the spray adhesive as the use has to be timed around good outdoor weather and the stuff needs to stay outside (and not blow away in the wind) while drying. I found it messy to use and had to use a lot of old newspapers to protect the surfaces that I was laying the items onto before spraying.
Others have reported that regular old glue sticks don't work as after a little time they dry up and the thing you glued together falls apart.
Check the Scrapbook Aisle of the Craft Store
Now that scrapbooking is so popular there are a lot of different adhesives on the market with different applications. You may want to experiment with some.
My Favorite Product
My new favorite adhesive for papers which is used by artists that does not bubble is made by Golden and is called "Golden acrylic gel medium soft gloss". It comes in gloss, semi-gloss and matte. I like the gloss best because it is the wettest and the thinnest. The matte version is less visible if a little goes onto your project. This is water soluable and dries completely clear. I apply it with a cheap foam 1 inch brush (often on sale for 20 for $1 but normally they are about 25 cents each). While wet the product cleans up easily from any surface including clothing. When dry, if you get it on clothing, it is permanent like a clear-ish crusty residue. This product is labeled as being non-toxic.
To use this easily I use an old phone book. I lay the small paper to be glued face down on the phone book page. I put a thin layer of the soft gel medium onto the back of it with the foam brush. I then pick it up and put it on the surface. When the phone book page is a mess I turn the page to a clean sheet and continue working.
This product by Golden does not have a bad odor and while using it, there are no fumes in the room.
In Connecticut I buy the Golden acrylic gel medium soft gloss" at Michael's craft store with the discount coupon. Oddly, one store near me carries the Golden product line while another local store does not.
You can also find it for full retail in fine art shops. Lastly if you want an Internet based source, try Misterart.com who is a fine art supply company who discounts everything. Interestingly, Amazon also sells some of the product line!
I have been using this Golden product to glue papers together while making artist trading cards for over two years. It is an acid-free product. It has other applications and usages for artists as well, it is not JUST an adhesive product. It acts as an adhesive on paper, plastic, fabric and wood.
Golden company's webpage about their gel medium products
I hope you found these resources helpful.
I hope you enjoy your lapbooking adventures.
I plan to try lapbooking again in the future. I am considering doing more notebooking. Wish us luck.
Note: post updated 3/01/08 to add information about adhesives.
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