Friday, January 24, 2014

Math Fact Friday: Lap books

Lap books have taken homeschooling by storm.  Just type in “Lap books” into Pinterest and you will see what I mean.  There are lap books for almost every topic and grade level.  The most handy pre-made math lap book is for math facts.

If you don’t know what a lap book is, it is basically a mini, interactive, presentation board.  The basic lap book is made from a file folder with foldables and graphic organizers glued on.  The students I’ve used them with LOVE them because it is theirs to keep.  I’ve used them with graphing, factoring, fraction operations, and math facts.

Today I’m going to share how I use lap books to learn or review math facts, how to prepare to use lap books, and some resources for math fact lap books.

If you are interested in learning to use lap books for other math topics that will be in a later post.

Side note: Please keep in mind I use this lap book to learn MATH FACTS, not to teach the concepts of addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division.  The concepts for these should be taught first. Once the student understands what is going on with these concepts, then they should start memorizing math facts.  Learning how to multiply and learning math facts are two separate topics.   They are equally important.  If a student only knows the procedure (math facts) they will have a hard time when it comes to problem solving.  If a student only knows the concept and does not have their math facts memorized, it will take them FOREVER to learn the concepts of division and factorization.  It will also take them forever to do their homework and finish problems because they will be drawing upon the conceptual knowledge to “figure it out” every time instead of “knowing” the answer.  Please make sure your student knows both!!

How I use lap books to learn or review math facts

I use lap books to learn math facts with 3rd and 4th graders or to review math facts all the way through 8th and 9th graders.  I’ve found with one-on-one tutoring that kids and even teens LOVE this “kiddie” stuff that they would be embarrassed about if their friends were around.  I would not introduce this on your first session working with a middle school or higher student.  Even some fifth graders may be hesitant at first.  Girls are usually more excited about it than boys, but boys have fun with it too. 

I do not complete a lap book in one tutoring session.  That would be crazy and it would feel like over-kill to the student.  I like to break up my session into 3 or 4 parts.  First, I go over any homework questions a student has or correct their homework.  Next, I look for any common errors the student had on their homework and do a mini lesson about that topic, if necessary.  If I am working on a specific topic with the student in remediation or enrichment, I do an activity or lesson on that topic.  Last, we do “fun stuff” like a math game or making a lap book.  I don’t get through all of these every session and sometimes the remediation or enrichment involves making a lap book, but I always include practice problems or tests/quizzes (think timed multiplication tests) too.

I’ve been creating the multiplication lap book (found under resources) with my 4th grade student for about 4 weeks and we are still not done!  We do between 1 and 3 math fact families a week after we’ve gone over homework. 

The first week we did 1’s, 2’s, and 3’s.  She knows her 1’s and 2’s really well so she was able to fill those out very quickly.  While she is writing in her answers for one, I start cutting out the next one. 

The second week we did 4’s and 5’s.  I had her do 5’s first because she knows them well and then we worked on memorizing the 4’s.

The third week we did 6’s and 7’s.  We focused on memorizing 6’s.  We will focus on memorizing 7’s in the fourth week.

How to prepare to use lap books

The first thing you will want to do is search the Internet to see if there is already a pre-made lap book available.  I’ll post the links to the math fact lap books below under resources.  The one I used is free, but there are also a lot of options on Teachers Pay Teachers.

If you are making your own lap book, create an outline of what topics you want included.  After you have the topics, find a printable foldable or lap book insert that will fit with each topic.

Once you have decided what topics and inserts you are using for your lap book, you need to find something to glue them onto.  I really love the Target “One Spot” for finding cute file folders.  I keep them folded the way they come and hole-punch them so they fit into my students’ binders.  Most I’ve seen online are folded like trifold boards.  The easiest option is just hole-punching cardstock.

Next it’s time to print everything out!!  You can use different colored paper if you like for different parts, I just used white paper and white cardstock because that is what I had.  I like to cut any of the longer straight lines with my paper cutter before bringing them to my student.  I also cut out any of the “windows” with my x-acto knife so I don’t have to bring that to their house.

You will also want to pack a little “lap book kit” for your students to use while creating their lap book.  Some things to include are:

  • ScissorsMarkers (skinny and fat)
  • Highlighters
  • Black pens
  • Double stick tape or glue sticks
  • Stapler
  • Stickers to decorate it with
  • If you use a laminated style file folder, you will also want a permanent marker or two to draw or write on the file folder


Math Facts Lap Books:

Other Lap Book Resources:
Lap Books at Home School Share – Free lap books for elementary students
Lapbook Lessons - free printable lap books and mini books
Lapbook Templates - blank Printables

Have you used lapbooks before?  What did you like/dislike about them?

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