I’d LOVE to do more unit studies with my 4 year old, but I get very overwhelmed with the pieces, the glue etc., and we are soooo on the go. Suggestions beyond keeping things in baggies that might make lapbooks feasible to do whilst schooling at Mc Donald’s (that is where we do most of our school) or the library? Are there titles that might really lend themselves best to carschooling/school away from home? Titles that an older sibling could do with a younger?
There are a couple of “tricks of the trade” to make lapbooking easier on-the-go. I’ll get to them in a moment.
But first I wanted to address the beginning of your question, “I’d LOVE to do more unit studies with my 4 year old, but I get very overwhelmed with the pieces, the glue etc.”
When lapbooks first became popular, they were a fun add-on to a unit study or other lesson. Gradually, it was believed by many that a unit was not complete without a lapbook. Judging by your question, it seems you feel the same way. This just isn’t so.
The one complaint I most often hear from lapbooking moms, especially those with younger children, is “overwhelmed.” And to them I reply, “Why do it?”
Lapbooks are great. We’ve used them in our homeschool for going on a decade now. But they aren’t supposed to be a burden or wearisome. They are intended to be a fun means for children to present what they’ve learned in a creative way. The last thing lapbook designers want is for parents or children to feel overwhelmed.
There are ways to make lapbooking simpler on the child and more travel-friendly. Mom (or older siblings) can do the entire cutting and folding of the components ahead of time. Mom can stick double-faced tape to the back of the components so you don’t have to deal with the messiness of glue. Mom can take only the component(s) needed that day to the destination. Mom can do the writing on the components for the child, so everything is neat and orderly. Mom can arrange the final product, stick everything in place, preferably at home where everything can be spread out.
But who really “owns” the lapbook? Who is learning from it? And how will Mom not be overwhelmed with this extra work?
It is my opinion, based on my own personal experience, that if a child can’t do most of the lapbook prep on his own, that he may be too young to be lapbooking. Sometimes younger siblings, wanting to emulate their elder siblings, will practically beg to make a lapbook. By all means, let them. But if the lapbooking is your idea, and most of the work is completed by you, then maybe it is time to let it go.
There will be plenty of time to lapbook. Those starting on a regular regiment of lapbooking with their young students have often experienced “lapbook burnout”, where their children became lapbook resistant by the time they were in upper-elementary grades. It’s a shame, really.
If you want to do more unit studies with your 4 year old, I’d recommend skipping the lapbooks and read, read, read to your child. If you like the unit study approach, then gather a stack of books by theme or subject. This is where older siblings come in. Let them help pick and gather the books and share in the reading duties. And then encourage the child to respond to what has been read. Draw a picture. Narrate back to you his favorite part. Act out his favorite character. Make up a song or poem about the story. Just talk, relate, cuddle.
Spend time enjoying your child instead of overwhelming yourself with lapbooks. You and your child will both be happy that you did. 🙂