Monday, April 16, 2012

WWII Lapbooks

How many of you have heard of "lap-books"? I don't know how I have missed out of these for so many years, but thanks to Pinterest I've been brought into the light! Lapbooks are (to my understanding) interactive notebooks where students can keep all the information on one topic in one place. The lapbook contains many mini-books or foldables and makes the whole note-taking process more creative and thus more enjoyable. Around Christmas I started researching lapbooks and couldn't find the large resource for middle grades that I had hoped was out there. I knew I wanted to make one for WWII so I started planning mine out long before I knew we would start the unit with the students. 
One file folder with an additional half attached
My main focuses in WWII according to the TN standards are the causes, key participants, the Holocaust, Japanese internment camps, and the atomic bomb. There is a secondary (lasting big idea) that is to focus on how WWII lead to the United States being more involved in international issues and wars but that's asking a lot of a little lapbook made from a file folder!  
Open View 1 (The map is doubled:
There is a hidden map beneath with
the Pacific Theater of Battles)
Open View 2
For this lapbook, it required one and a half file folders. The only pre-assembly that was done before passing them out to students was to tape the extra half of a file folder to the top to make the extra flap. Other than that, the students each made all their mini-books themselves. This was very much a cumulative activity. Each foldable directly related to a lesson so it was built piece by piece. If I tried to have them make all the foldables in one day I would not be blogging you from my classroom. I'd be blogging from prison after going on a rampage about folding, cutting, stapling, and taping in the wrong spot. That would certainly be more memorable, but alas I took the slower option. 

     Leadership during WWII
Frayer Model



The Atomic Bomb:
A picture of the atomic bomb was cut and then adhered to each level of the What? Where? When? Why? so that when all doors opened you can see the picture in full effect.  

The Nazi State and the Holocaust:
The foldable on the right is a pyramid that lies flat when not in use

The Homefront
 This one was probably my favorite. Probably because I think it's the cutest. It's a house with a roof that expands to show all the different things Americans were doing at home to help the war efforts.

 Our focus on the Japanese Internment Camps was, of course, what they were, but also how they stood in direct contrast of what we were fighting for and against. 

Timeline: I used register tape to make the timeline. Students completed an activity where they first had to put given events in order and then place them in the correct place on the timeline. 

I've got the rumblings of an idea for next year trying to make a lapbook for each of our eras that we do in Social Studies. Then come TCAP time we just have to take out our lapbooks and we've got great study materials all in one place (unlike their mess-of-a-binder that they've got this year). We'll see how I feel about it when I'm trying to plan it all. Sometimes my Pinterest "eyes" are bigger than my real-life ability levels.

Hopefully this is something that can get you started thinking about using lap-books in your upper grade classrooms!

Until next time,
Mrs. J


  1. I've recently discovered lapbooking too! I love it! I'm currently using them with a group of seniors in an astronomy unit. I love how the lapbooks chunk everything into manageable pieces and then show how everything connects.

    Great pics!
    Teacher Talk

  2. This is awesome! What a great tool for the kids!

  3. I love this! Did you use each part of the lapbook as a review for that section or was it a dominate part of the lesson? Also wondering how long it took. They look awesome!

    1. Each foldable was part of its own lesson; an atomic bomb lesson, homefront, internment camps, etc. They used the foldables to keep their notes or the "big ideas" of the lesson. My WWII unit is a three week unit and it took just about all of it. I loved seeing the students using the lapbook to study. I'm glad you like it!

  4. I've nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award! Come over to my blog to pick it up. Thanks for being an inspiration!

    Inside this Book

  5. Hi! I just happened across your blog this evening and am your newest follower! I love the idea of lapbooks too. They were on my to-do list for last year, I really wanted to start using them. Hopefully this year I will be able to incorporate them, as I love the idea of more interactive notebook type resources.

  6. Hi! I've just discovered your blog, and am excited to be following you! I have taught school for 8 years, mainly 3rd and 4th, along with 2 years of Middle School, but this year my new journey will begin in 5th grade... I am very excited, and appreciate you sharing your great ideas!

    Thanks again; I look forward to following!

    P.S. We live in Martin, TN... :)

    1. Hi Selena! I'm glad I'm not the only TN gal on here! Sorry I just saw your comment. I'm finally getting my brain wrapped around all things school again. Thanks for following me!

  7. Hi... I LOVE your lap books. I want to work on using them next year with my fifth grade friends. How did you decide upon the mini books inside the file folder? Was everyone's the same and if so, what do you think about leaving it up to student choice?

    Thanks for your help and I am your newest follower!
    Damien of The Reading Buddies

    1. Hi Damien! I've really loved doing lapbooks with my fifth graders. When deciding on the foldable I usually think about what I'm shooting for with the content. If it's a compare and contrast I'll do a two door (Venn) or T-foldable. I'm designing my next lapbook for Government & Civics where I've got a muti-level circular foldable that pulls out to show how the local, state, and federal government all work together. So, really it varies depending on the purpose. When I started searching on-line about lapbooks I found a lot of homeschoolers use them and for them it is much more organic ("What do you want to learn about?" "What do you want to know about Space?" "How should we represent that learning?") and I think that has a time and place. Since I'm using this as an instructional tool and I'm trying to make sure that I cover my standards I'm a bit more structured (that and my eye starts to twitch if things aren't structured). I'm not tied to them having to place the foldables in a particular place other than if it's a space/size issue.
      Thanks for following me!

  8. I used lap books with my fifth graders this past year and THEY love it! They really got into it. Thanks for sharing this great idea.

  9. Hi! I am a former elementary teacher turned homeschooler and I love lapbooks. I used them in my classroom for history and science (and occasionally language arts) all the time, though I didn't call them lapbooks because I had not heard of that word. Since becoming a homeschooler, I learned they were called that. Anyway, my children LOVE lapbooking (and notebooking) so I have a large supply of resources I turn to to meet their needs. My favorite history lapbooking resource is Here is a link to her specific WWII lapbook:

    There will be more included in the cd than you could ever fit into school and it wouldn't fit your needs perfectly. BUT, there is a lot there you probably could use and I think it would spark a lot of ideas. I have personally used the New World Explorers, Colonial America, and The American Revolution...all were wonderful. They are written grades 3-8. Perfect for your grade. I hope you or someone else finds this comment helpful. Thanks for sharing your ideas and when I teach this part of history to my children, I will remember all that you have shared and incorporate it into our studies. (same goes with your government and civics lapbook which we will be stealing ideas from this school year)

    One last thing: I am a new follower!

    1. Yeah! I'm so glad you follow me Brandy! THANK YOU for the site suggestion. I'm going to be pouring over this for sure later. Thanks again!

  10. I, also, am a "Mrs. J." and I also teach 5th grade. This is a great idea, thanks for sharing!

  11. I, also, am a "Mrs. J." and I also teach 5th grade. This is a great idea, thanks for sharing!