Since this topic is the second most popular on our website, I wanted to show you some of our finished products! (Here is the first article – Teaching Kids About Missions.)
This lapbook was the very first one we did and it was about our very own United States of America. When I teach my children about missions, I am using it as our Social Studies/Geopgraphy lesson so I base all the activities on one country. We also pick some missionaries that we know in that area and learn about them and pray for them.
As you’ll be able to see from the photos, these lapbooks are nothing fancy! ANYone can do this! With a decent printer and the FREE downloadable materials from HomeSchoolShare – you are ready to roll! (not rock … just roll!)
Cover map of North America – I can’t find the exact one that I used any more, but I found a comparable one at AbcTeach.
The First Thanksgiving Mini Book – I majored on the Thanksgiving holiday with our USA book since that’s essentially where our roots begin.
For the picture of our missionaries, I just accordian-folded a small piece of colored paper. We glued their photo on the front, the state they minister in on the next panel, their names and birth dates next, and their address and email address last.
For the US facts, I created an Excel document with two columns and then cut it out and cut the little doors. I found images around the web for our flag (I had them color it in), the bald eagle, the capital, and the dollar. They cut and pasted them behind the appropriate flaps.
Each day, we took one piece of the lapbook and talked about it. I also have a World Book so that gave the conversation a little more depth when I introduced what we were going to be doing. there are so many things you can think of to talk about!
(While looking for these links again to publish this article, I found something else that might fit that looked cool:)
The second lapbook we did was about Mexico. We picked a missionary that we knew, emailed them for some additional details and picked a few pieces of Mexican life to highlight. Because I’m targeting my younger kids with this (ages 6, 4 and 2) I don’t delve as deeply into the culture as I would with my 12 year old. We grab some of the main parts and go from there.
Mexico Paper Dolls – I misplaced my lapbook resources log and simply can’t find some of the resources I have been using for these books. I found another equally cute one for you, though!
Petal Book – I used this for numbers 1 through 5 in Spanish.
Pocket to hold Color cards – for the color cards, I just made a bunch of circles on a Word document and filled it in with colors and listed the Spanish word below the color.
Animal Words book – After I printed the book template, I also found some images of four different animals online and pasted those to the front of the matchbooks.
For my missionary information, I hand-wrote a little bit about them and then printed their email for my kids to put inside the book. This lapbook was a little hurried because of our schedule during that time, so there isn’t as much information there as I would like. I might even like to do a follow-up lapbook one day and file it with this one.
I’m just gonna tell you up front – the prep work takes quite a bit of time for me. Hopefully, the links I have given you above will set you ahead of the game. But, if you find that you want to add a piece, it may take some time to find just what you want and print it out. Set goals for what you want your children to know about the country and then direct your lapbook in that direction. I ask myself questions and the pieces we put into our lapbook will answer those questions:
- Where is the country?
- What do they eat?
- What language do they speak?
- What does the flag look like?
- Where is the capital city?
- What do they use for money?
- How do they dress?
- What is their main religion?
- How can we pray for the missionaries?
- Do the missionaries have any specific prayer requests?
That certainly is not an exhaustive list of questions that you might ask, but hopefully it’ll get you started.
Also, you might want to pre-cut most of the lapbook pieces for your kids. It just depends on how much time you want to take with them. My kids needed some scissor practice, so with the US book I had them to the majority of the during our lesson time. It turned what was supposed to take 5 days into 10 or 15 – I can’t remember if we ended up doing two weeks or three, but it really extended the time we put in. There are pros and cons to that.
Go to the library and get all the books you’ll want for that country. I usually go to the library website at night when the kids are in bed and write down the titles and numbers for books I particularly like. If you do this part of the research early enough (and if your library has a sharing agreement with other libraries in the area) you can reserve those books and have them delivered to your favorite library. Pick them all up at once and then the kids don’t have to follow you around the whole place while you search high and low for a book that the website said they have which they really don’t have!
Online you can probably find a short audio clip of the language to play for your kids. Search for some authentic food recipes and prepare them one day during the unit. Maybe the country has a different style of music that you could expose the kids to. There are many ways to immerse them in this culture while you are learning!
Pick out a missionary and get together stories from them, pictures, birthdates, addresses, etc.
Write out a lesson plan for the whole week on one page. Something that you can look at and get supplies and ideas ready quickly. Then, write out a separate lesson plan for each day – this will be way more detailed with a specific flow and specific words that you want to say to them. Your weekly plan is a look at the whole forest, the daily plan looks at the veins in each leaf!
Put everything in a nice neat stack somewhere out of the way and hope your read-aholics don’t find the stack before you are ready!!
On the first day, I introduce the country with a picture book I find at the library. We then look at the globe and find the country. We’re pretty intense when it comes to learning the globe – I really want my kids to know where each continent is and where the major countries are. It’s working – even the two year old knows where Australia is and she loves to point it out!
(A website that has really helped my kids learn the globe is the Geography section of Shepherd’s Software. Fantastic free site with tons of games, not just for Geography. Wonderful addition to your homeschooling tools!)
Then, I’ll pick one of my lapbook pieces for us to assemble and glue into the book. The first day is usually the day that we color the specific country on a map outline and color in a printout of the flag and glue those pieces to the front. I’ve been getting better at letting my kids do the lettering on the front instead of myself!
On each subsequent day, we’ll start out by praying for the people of that country and for the missionaries. You can’t imagine how this will turn the heart of a child to a certain people or family. We prayed for several missionaries throughout our US lapbook and one of the families visited our church shortly after we completed it. My kids felt about that family the way most other kids feel about the currently-reigning pop idol! They were amazed that they folks were actually HERE … in OUR church!!!!
Then, we read one of the books from the library and work on another piece for the lapbook.
Depending on how much time you’ll be devoting to the lapbook, I like to write to the missionaries at least once. If the missionaries write back, even if we have moved on to another country, we write back. The kids love the correspondence and I want them to develop relationships with these godly folks!
Maybe Friday can be your day to dress up like them, eat the foods they eat, try talking like they talk, watch a movie about them, etc.
When the lapbook is complete, you’ll have a fabulous resource for your children to look at for years to come! (Years! That is, if the two year old doesn’t find it so pretty that she lovingly grabs it while you think she’s doing something else and begins to explore it the way only a two year old can! Put them up on the highest shelf!)
I sure hope this has helped you put together your own lapbooks! Please feel free to ask questions or bring up your own suggestions. I get lots of visits each day from people searching for information about “teaching kids about missions” so your ideas and questions will be useful to a large number of people.
The US Lapbook
The Mexico Lapbook