Time Constraints and MiniBooks

Sometimes in a classroom it can be hard to commit yourself to doing a whole lapbook.  There’s the cost, of course (not that manila folders are all that expensive, but it does add up), but more than that, there’s the time commitment.  And as carefully-thought-out as your lesson plan may be, there will always be something that takes longer than you thought, or that needs explaining more than you expected, or simply interruptions that you didn’t plan on.  (Such as the student who threw up in the middle of the classroom floor….)

Sometimes a lapbook that was supposed to be finished in a week hasn’t gone home for almost a month.  Sometimes pieces somehow get lost and lapbooks end up incomplete.  Sometimes I just can’t think up enough original elements to make a whole lapbook.

More and more in the past few weeks, I’ve been doing individual minibooks and sending them home with the kids the same day.  One of our favorites is the Flip-Flap Book  , a version of the Shutterfold minibooks.  We do a four flap book, so the folds are really simple, which means that little hands can do them on their own (and I save a TON of time!).  Half sheets of colored paper make fun little books to record the day’s vocabulary words; the English word goes on the outside, and the Spanish word and a picture go on the inside.  Read more


Cooking Lapbooks

Sometimes, it can be hard to find good resources on lapbooks for ELLs.  The internet is full of amazing lapbooking and notebooking resources, but all too often, I find a really neat idea, only to realize that parts of it are just too complicated for my ELLs.  Usually what I end up doing is taking part and leaving the rest.

That’s what we’ve been doing this week in the classroom with this super-cool cooking lapbook from Homeschool Share: http://www.homeschoolshare.com/cooking.php

Some parts of it are just way over my kids’ heads.  No way am I going to try to explain “carbohydrates” when they’re still struggling to memorize the word “food”!  Comparing and contrasting different kinds of bakeware is also out.

However, there were parts that we definitely enjoyed putting together; the crock of kitchen vocabulary, for example, was super fun; we wrote vocabulary words in English on the handles (not the bowls!) of the spoons, and then rather than writing the word in Spanish, we drew pictures on the bowls of the spoons.  Then we colored them and cut them out and put them in our crocks.

We also did the “Come on In” page, writing a short story about a kitchen rather than about a hostess (again, it’s almost the end of the year, and there’s no sense in introducing too many new words.).

I’ll try to post pictures a little bit later.  Right now I’m off to see how many ideas I can make up for tomorrow’s Bible Club class on Hannah and Samuel.


Lapbooking for EFL

Lapbooking, once the territory of homeschoolers, is becoming increasingly popular in classroom settings, at least if one may judge by the increasing number of articles online explaining how to use lapbooking in the classroom setting.  Personally, I love it for my kids, and they love it, too.  It’s much more fun than just repeating or writing in a notebook or coloring worksheets, and it gives them a sense of accomplishment when they finish their lapbooks and take them home to their parents.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find much information online about lapbooking for EFL learners.  (The all-knowing Google failed me on this one; my search turned up only two really relevant results, and of the two, only one was actually useful and practical.)

But where Google fails, good ol’ human creativity steps in and takes over.  We’ve done two lapbooks so far, one using some of our special sounds (we use A Beka in the classroom, so it was based on that) and one using our Family vocabulary.  The special sounds book had more minibooks (a minibook in the shape of a train, for example, where we wrote vocabulary words beginning with the tr sound; one of a fish for words with sh); the Family book was a bit more fun, with pockets that held paperdolls and puzzle pieces (paper dolls of each family member we had learned, and a puzzle of a family portrait that they colored and cut out), “portraits” of family members, a spinning wheel with four different family members (mom, dad, brother, sister), etc.

Matchbooks are great for vocabulary words.  I put the word in English on the front and the Spanish word and a picture on the inside.

Accordion books are a fun way to list vocabulary words that begin with the same special sound or that have the same vowel sound.

Shutterfold books are also great for vocabulary.

Pockets are fun for holding puzzles, paper dolls, and popsicle-stick puppets; we used them for our family lapbook this year, but they would also be great for community helpers/jobs and careers, transportation, and school supplies.

Pockets are also great for sorting games; we made pockets with different vowel sounds (short e, long e, special sound e) and I printed off little cards with vocabulary words (help, heat, he, shell, sheep, she, etc.) and had them sort them into the appropriate pocket.  With older kids, you could turn it into a contest – who can sort the fastest – and award a prize or sticker to the winner, but with little kids, I tend to avoid “contests”, and instead handed out stickers to everyone who correctly sorted their cards within a certain time limit.

My kids are too little to write much yet (kindergarteners!), so our lapbooks tend to rely heavily on visual elements, rather than written ones, but even so, we have done some copywork from the whiteboard, including writing family words (mom, dad, brother, sister, etc.) on a tri-fold book, and writing vocabulary words in a minibook.

It’s almost the end of the school year here in Peru.  We only have a few more weeks, which means that there really isn’t much time to make new lapbooks.  However, for next year, I plan to incorporate lapbooks from much earlier in the year, and with many different topics.

3/4 Storybooks

project nov 012

One of the best parts of working with kids (apart from their tremendous energy and enthusiam!) is getting to be creative.  We made this fun little three-quarter fold book a couple of weeks ago, and the kids loved it.

To make the book, you take a single piece of paper and fold it in four.  Then, you cut out the top left-hand section, leaving you with 3/4 of the paper.  project nov 007

On right-hand side on the bottom, we copied a short story from the whiteboard.  On the left-hand side, the students drew a picture to go with their story.

project nov 025

The top flap folds down, and we wrote some of the vocabulary words from the story with their definitions.

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Finally, we folded the last flap “book-style” and wrote the title and author on the front. A small black-and-white photo completed the personalization, and their book, complete with vocabulary, was ready to take home.

project nov 030

For the photos, I took headshots of each of my students and prepared a Word document with the resized images in a single-page layout. I left the images in color in the document and used Word’s “print in grayscale” feature to print it out. I could have printed it out in color, but I printed several sheets to use in several different projects, so the bw option was a fun detail without breaking the bank. Once the page was printed, I cut out the pictures and handed them out for the kids to glue onto their books.

One of the things I liked about this project, apart from the fact that it was so much fun to make (definitely more fun than writing on notebook paper!) was that the fold-down flap gave them a place to write out vocabulary words with their translations. That way, even when they took the books home, they would have an easy way to remember what the story said.

My kids are five and six years old, but you could certainly do this project with older students as well.  Students with more English practice could even make up their own stories to go inside the books.