Lapbooking With Special Needs Students
Every child is special, from their freckles to their toes. However, some are extra special for other reasons, and that creates challenges when it comes to learning. These may include children with vision or hearing impairments, fine motor deficits, ADHD, FAS, Autism, Dyslexia, and more. Some of these children require visual aids, specialty equipment, one-on-one teaching, or other methods to ensure that they comprehend homeschool lessons.
Hands-on projects seem to be all the rage right now in the homeschool groups. It’s often difficult to include children with special needs in the more intricate hands-on projects, so quite often they miss out. Well guess what? Lapbooks are different! They truly can be used with any age group or topic, and there are many fun ways to include special considerations for children with special needs or challenges.
What are the benefits of lapbooking with special needs children?
- Lapbooking offers alternative documentation methods. Just because a student has trouble writing or spelling doesn’t mean that he can’t lapbook. Consider alternative methods. Students may dictate to you, and YOU write his responses in the booklets. You may print out text boxes of with the answers, and allow the student to glue the boxes into the booklet. Or, you may purchase recordable buttons (I have purchased these from scrapbook stores in the past) and allow the student to speak/record his answers and glue the button into the booklet. If the student has severe language delays, consider allowing the student to glue pictures into the booklets as their answers.
- Colorful booklets of different shapes actually help to keep the attention of the student. They also help to stimulate memory. Most of us can remember where things are on a page and find ourselves saying, “I remember it was on the upper right hand corner of the page.” Well it works the same way with lapbooks. Students will remember, “It was on the orange circle.”
- Students with challenges regarding fine motor skills, such as dyspraxia, get some very good practice with lapbooks. They can work on their hand-eye coordination as well.
- Visual prompts are built into lapbooks. Students can see exact steps in picture format so that they have more confidence in carrying out the tasks.
- Lapbooking provides an avenue for working on their social skills. Students learn teamwork and cooperation by building lapbooks together.
- Students who do NOT have these special needs learn patience and tolerance for those who do by working in cooperation with them to complete these projects.
- Students take a lot of pride in their work. They are so proud of being able to complete a project that other children seem to do so much easier. They love to show these off to friends and family.
- With many special needs issues, the KEY to learning is to integrate the senses. This is EASY with lapbooking. Try these ways:
- Touch (Tactile): Use different textures in your booklets, like felt, feathers, sandpaper, fabrics, and puff paint.
- Sound (Auditory): Use recordable buttons, audio books, Velcro (use as a closure on a few booklets).
- Smell (Olfactory): Use scented markers, scratch & snff stickers, spices, essential oils, cooking (related to the topic).
- Sight (Visual): Use brightly colored paper, fun shapes, puff paint, different mediums, and embellishments (ribbon, metal brad fasteners, sequins, etc).
- Taste (Gustatory): Allow the student to eat snacks during the lesson, cook from different countries or time periods, incorporate herbs and spices.
- Lapbooks allow you to take a very challenging topic and break it into bite-sized pieces so that the topic isn’t so intimidating.
- Lapbooks can be used for EVERY subject: Math, Grammar, History, Science, Music, Money, Character, Literature, and MORE!
- Lapbooks can replace testing and assessments. They can be used as review or as an evaluation tool.
I’d also like to suggest some special tools/supplies that might make lapbooking with special needs students a bit more successful. Try helping with the cutting. You may also want to use glue dots as opposed to traditional glue. Also, consider using double-sided tape. Label makers are a great help as well, since you can create the answers on a label and let them stick them inside the booklet. Allow students to use colored pencils and markers, as well as scrapbooking embellishments. Remember to work in small time segments so that you can keep the student’s attention better as well.
Lapbooking with special needs students can be very fun and rewarding. However, it does take some up front preparation, not only of supplies but also of your mind. DECIDE that you are going to be patient, teach in small time frames, and help in areas where needed. I promise you that the smile on your student’s face and the price he feels in the completed project will FAR outweigh any frustration that you may feel during the process. ALL students can create a lapbook. The limitations come from ourselves.