Q & A: Lapbooking versus Notebooking

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This post is inspired by a few things I have seen online about lapbooks and notebooks. One is this discussion at Homeschool Share forum about what age to stop making lapbooks. Another is comments at Valerie’s review of Notebooking Success eBook . One reader asked how lapbooking and notebooking were different. Another reader asked about transitioning from lapbooks to notebooks because her child was getting burned out on all the cutting and pasting of lapbooks.

organizing egypt lapbook/notebook

Making a Lapbook/Notebook Combo

So I am going to tackle the lapbooking versus notebooking issue here at The Notebooking Fairy.

When to Stop Making Lapbooks?

First of all, there is no magic age when students should stop using lapbooks and switch to notebooking. Some children love making lapbooks all the way through high school. However, many children will naturally make a transition over to notebooking in the upper elementary and middle school years. I say naturally because the elements of lapbooking cross over well into notebooking:

  • dividing information into logical chunks
  • narrating with words and illustrations
  • presenting information creatively and attractively

There is no need to rush this transition because you feel that lapbooks are somehow inferior to notebooks. That is absolutely not the case. If the minibook format works for your child and is enjoyable, keep using it. But by all means, if a child is getting bored with cutting and pasting. I would quickly look for a change. Often a simple break from lapbooking is enough to bring back the enjoyment of it later. Variety is a motivator when it comes to school assignments. Doing the same thing day in and day out, no matter how fun it is, can get very boring.

When to Start Notebooking?

There is also no magic age when a child can begin notebooking. Being able to write does help, but even pre-writers can notebook successfully by using illustrations and cutting out words provided for them.

However, many moms discover that their children do make a shift from lapbooks to notebooks starting around fourth grade and continuing on into sixth grade. By high school most, but not all, children have stopped using lapbooks.

civil war lapbook inside

a lapbook with notebooking pages


Melding the Best of Both

One of the best parts about these two methods of learning is that they are complementary. You can use a few notebooking pages in your lapbook. Or you can add a few minibooks to your notebooks. This cross over is especially good during those years of 4th through 6th grades when both methods are being used.

Bottom Line is Learning

The bottom line is learning, so if lapbooks work, use them. If notebooks work, use them instead. You don’t need The Notebooking Fairy to give you permission to shift from one to the other. Experiment and do what motivates your children and what helps them retain their lessons.


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Jimmie Quick

Jimmie is now a veteran homeschool mom. Her daughter Emma is a student of the sciences at a large university in Illinois. Her guide to notebooking—Notebooking Success—guides you through notebooking: what it is; how to use it; how it fits a Charlotte Mason, classical, and textbook curriculum; tips for getting the most educational value from it; and much more. It comes bundled with several bonuses, including a small set of generic notebooking pages that can be used with any topic.

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Julie Reply

Great reminder! We often use lapbook components in our notebooking pages. Actually, we’ve never made a lapbook, but have used scads of lapbook components. Now the girls are older, and we use a mix of both.

Angie M Reply

I got your Notebooking book, I loved it. I had been follow you for 3 years, you daughter is so cute. My son and daughter love see what she is doing now. Thank you for sharing this information. Very soon, I will have a middle school kid. This help me so much!
God bless you,

    Jimmie Quick Reply

    Angie, Thanks for the compliment about the eBook AND the blessing (received!). For more about Sprite’s latest happenings, visit Jimmie’s Collage.

Lisa Reply

our kids have often morphed their Lapbooks into interactive notebooks. They don’t really like the lack of room in most Lapbooks, but they also don’t really like the lack of mini-books and such that comes with notebooks. So what they eventually started doing was getting exercise or scrapbooks and making their own special combination of the two. They divide the book by subject area (food, education, locality ETC) and they really get involved with their subject matter.

    Jimmie Quick Reply

    Nice compromise, Lisa! Thanks for sharing how you do it.

Jasmine Reply

Hi, I’m very new to the concept of Notebooking. My daughter’s only 1.5 yrs old, so when should I begin Notebooking with her? And my friend is considering homeschooling her daughter who is starting high school in the Fall. Can she use Notebooking with her even though it’s a totally new concept to her?

Hamilton Reply

Lapbooking, and notebooking were two of the coolest discoveries we made as we started exploring homeschooling. I don’t know that our kids will ever grow out of lapbooking. As a scientist, and an engineer, my wife and I still lapbook to this day.

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