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Seven Reasons Lapbooking Works

Seven Reasons Lapbooking Works

butterflylapbooklayout450Lap books are wonderful teaching tools that encourage creativity while motivating learning.

A lap book consists of a file folder that contains various types of mini booklets with images and text.  The mini booklets contain bite-sized chunks of information about the different themes within the larger topic that the lap book covers.

There are thousands of studies showing that the four learning modalities incorporated into lap booking are effective.

1. Lap Books are Visual Knowledge

  • hanukkah_lapbook_preview1A lap book is structured similarly to the way our brains function by allowing associations and links to be recorded and reinforced. While creating the lap book, ideas and thoughts are turned into something visible and structured.
  • Lap booking is an excellent way of storing and recalling information and presenting things to others.
  • While creating a lap book both the student and teacher visually see the culmination of knowledge!

The process of planning and creating a lap book enhances learning, promotes creative thinking, aids memory skills and recall while enlisting the full power of both sides of the brain. Lap booking gives students opportunities to engage in a variety of learning modalities.

2. Interactive, Hands-on Learning

Hands-on learning focuses on the subject instead of the teacher. The student and teacher work together as a team.

  • Students whose teachers emphasize higher-order thinking skills and hands-on learning activities outperform their peers significantly. One study shows that students who engage in hands-on learning on a weekly basis outperform those who engage in this manner of instruction on a monthly basis. Students whose teachers conduct hands-on learning activities outperform their peers by 72% of a grade level in math and 40% of a grade level in science. This study indicates that the most effective class. (Educational Testing Service 2001)
  • Hands-on learning raises the level of instruction because the students can reason and apply what they learn. Learning by doing should be the rule rather than just telling—or even just showing—the student. Educators have long believed that schools have failed to teach adequately even the most basic concepts. (National Academy of Sciences)
  • For most students academic learning is too abstract. They need to see, touch and smell what they hear, read and write about. (John Goodland)
  • If you plan learning experiences that incorporate a wide range of modalities, you are likely to produce a group of enthusiastic, engaged learners. (Dr. Patricia Hutinger)

weatherlapbooklayout4503. Lap Books Create Interest

Most students will choose a lap book project over any other writing or studying assignment because they are fun and entertaining. Most people like “crafty” projects.

  • “People cannot learn by having information pressed into their brains. Knowledge has to be sucked into the brain, not pushed in. First one must create a state of mind that craves knowledge, interest and wonder. You can teach only by creating an urge to know.” Victor Weisskopf, Physics Professor
  • In hands-on learning, the spark is human curiosity. The student internalizes questions which trigger mental reasoning. The student begins to do his or her own thinking rather than just accepting the explanation of the instructor, and starts to relate cause and effect. The student, in doing instead of just listening and observing, begins to see purpose to the learning. It is a form of discovery which, in itself, is an exhilarating experience that promotes understanding and impacts the brain in a unique and superior way. (nukefacts)

GREECEcover4. Images Enhance Learning

Lap books include lots of images. Clip art is popular is schools for a reason—our brains like thinking in pictures.

  • Visual input creates the strongest recall value of all senses, and also allows the widest spectrum of levels-of-processing modifiers. It is also one of the most widely studied. Within visual studies, pictures have been shown to have a greater recall value than words—the picture superiority effect. (Craik, FIM; Lockhart RS)
  • Before children learn a language, they visualize pictures in their minds which are linked to concepts. Unfortunately, once children are trained to write only words in one color on lined paper, their creative channels and mental flexibility diminish. Images keep this creativity fired up. (Margulies, S. 1991)
  • By comparing visual presentations with verbal presentations, the results were vastly in favor of visualizations. Presenters who used visual language were perceived by the audience as more effective than those using no visuals—they were clearer, more concise, more interesting, more professional, more credible and better prepared. (The Wharton School 1981).

5. Color Enhances Learning

  • lapbooksIf a picture is worth a thousand words, a picture with color may be worth a million. Psychologists have documented that “living color” does more than appeal to the senses. It also boosts memory for scenes in the natural world. Color helps us to process and store images more efficiently than colorless (black-and-white) scenes and, as a result, to remember them better, too. (Felix A. Wichmann,)
  • 92% believe color presentations presents an image of impressive quality (Xerox study, 2003).
  • Color improves comprehension by 73% (‘The Power of Color’, Successful Meetings, June 1992).
  • Color increases brand recognition by up to 80% (University of Loyola, Maryland study).
  • 90% believe that they remember presentations and documents better when color is used (Xerox study, 2003).

6. Right and Left Brain Skills

schoollapbooklayout450We have two halves to our brains which think in different ways. The left side thinks linearly, following direct linkages to related ideas. The right side prefers the whole picture with flow, images, and colors.

Lap booking brings together left brain thinking (words, logic) and right-brain skills (images, color, rhythm, space) which dramatically increases your mind power.

  • The more you integrate left- and right-brain activities, the more the brain’s performance becomes synergetic. This means that each cortical skill enhances the performance of other areas so that the brain is working at its optimum. (Sperry, R.W.)
  • Research shows that the brain likes to work on the basis of association and it will connect every idea, memory or piece of information to tens, hundreds, and even thousands of other ideas and concepts. (Anokhin P.K.)

egyptlapbooklayout27. Mini Books = Chunking Information

Our brains think in unique and logarithmic ways. Chunking refers to the strategy of breaking down information into bite-sized pieces so the brain can more easily digest new information. A mini book is a chunk of information about the theme.

The brain holds a limited amount of information at one time. Each piece of information is best studied through a structured process of learning that assimilates that chunk of information.

While lap booking, students organize visual elements into groups, placing information into booklets, and booklets into the lap book.

  • Our short-term memory is on average only capable of storing seven items of information, and chunking can help us use this storage space more effectively. (Glass, A.L. and Holyoak, K.J.)
  • By chunking information, the author improves the reader’s comprehension and ability to access and retrieve the information. (Robert Horn)

Why Do You Do It?

There are many other reasons why lap booking works. Why do you like lap booking? Why do your children like it? What do you like best? Least?

I think children should be part of the lap book planning process. What do you think? Comment below.

HOW Scrap Lap Books


 Free Bible Lapbook: Adam to Abraham  

Lapbook Resources

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  1. Lapbook is TM by Tobin’s Lab
  2. Craik, FIM; Lockhart RS (1972). “Levels of processing: A framework for memory research”. Journal of Verbal Learning & Verbal Behavior 11 (6): 671–84. doi:10.1016/S0022-5371(72)80001-X.
  3. Margulies, S. 1991, Mapping Inner Space: Learning and Teaching Mind Mapping. Zephyr, Tucson, AZ.
  4. The Wharton Schoolhttp://archive.heartofwisdom.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=10368&action=edit 1981, Wharton Applied Research Center, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.
  5. Anokhin P.K. (1973). ‘The forming of natural and artificial intelligence’. Impact of Science in Society, Vol. XXIII 3.
  6. Sperry, R.W. (1968), ‘Hemispheric deconnection and unity in conscious awareness’. Scientific American, Vol. 23, pp. 723-35.
  7. Glass, A.L. and Holyoak, K.J.(1986), Cognition. New York: Random House.
  8. Horn, Robert E., Developing Procedures Policies & Documentation, Information Mapping Inc




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About Robin Sampson


  1. What a great article, Robin. I wish I had written it! 😉
    I agree that the visual and chunking aspects are extremely beneficial to learners. That ability to breakdown information into chunks spills over into physical organization as well as composition.

    (PS Your blog font is so tiny. Wish it were easier to read.)

  2. Robin, Great Website. First a response to Jimmie–Make the font larger by holding down the shift and ctrl keys and then hit the + key until the font is as large as you want it. To reduce the font–hold down the ctrl and hit -.

    Robbin,I love your lap book article–
    Janice VanCleave

  3. Thanks for the article! These are some really good tips for when I start to homeschool my son 🙂

  4. Thank you for an excellent, comprehensive post! You have so clearly laid out all the best reasons why lapbooks are such an excellent learning tool. If I had read this years ago when lapbooks seemed like just ‘creative scrapbooking’, I would have convinced many more homeschoolers to lapbook! Yes, it’s fun and creative, but it is fantastic for learning and especially for review.

  5. Rachelle

    I get all the “learning” reasons for lapbooking, but I really love doing them for keepsake value! I guess that is more scrapbook reasoning?? 🙂 My kids love showing others their work and that is reinforcement learning and showing pride in what they work on, as they are to “work as unto the Lord!”

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