Using Lapbooks with the Child with Special Needs

Using Lapbooks with the Child with Special NeedsNote: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase through the link, I receive a little commission, but never at an extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting this website in this way.

Lapbooks are all the rage these days both in school and in the homeschool setting. They are a hands-on method of learning through the subjects in the form of portable booklets. Often built by combining sturdy file folders, they include manipulative parts that help teach, reinforce, or expand on ideas within a concept.

While you can design and create your own lapbooks, many publishers provide ready-made creations for you to print, cut, and assemble.

A-Z Letter Lapbooks by LAckert-CHSH offers 26 letter lapbook printables to get you started. In this post, I show you how to use this kit with your child with special needs.

Lapbook A to Z

What’s included?

  • 26 complete individual letter lapbooking units to download and print
  • each unit includes a large letter to color, a word list, envelopes, a coloring section, a booklet to create a story, a lower and uppercase letter to trace, and more!

Using lapbooks with children with special needs_A to Z

B Lapbook cover

Why lapbooks make great learning tools for the child with special needs

  • Children with special needs learn best through a multi-sensory approach. Lapbooks provide the hands-on experience children require.
  • Lapbooks take worksheets to a whole new level. The typical black and white busy-work sheets now become reusable 3D activities making it highly motivating for children with learning difficulties to use.
  • Visual-spatial learners appreciate the spatial organization of activities.
  • Verbal-linguistic learners like the creative use of words throughout.
  • Tactile-kinesthetic learners love the flaps and interactive activities within lapbooks.
  • Lapbooks are portable making them easy to take to appointments.
  • Lapbooks teach life and self-care skills in addition to academic skills.

M Lapbook cover_using lapbooks with children with special needs

How to use lapbooks with the child with special needs

The 7 ideas listed are specific to the A-Z Letter Lapbooks by LAckert-CHSH, but you can use these tips with other lapbooks you either create or download.

Open lapbook for the child with special needs

1- Assemble the lapbook ahead of time. Some parents and teachers like to have their students build the lapbook themselves. To reduce frustration with a child with special needs, I recommend building the lapbook yourself. If the goal is to have the child enjoy the activities, there is no need to have him assemble the lapbook himself. While the assembly of any lapbook is indeed labor-intensive, it will be worth the advanced effort since lapbooks can be used over and over again as both a learning and review tool.

Open lapbook last two sections_using lapbooks with kids with special needs

Using lapbooks with kids with special needs

2- Use a simple assembly format. There are many ways to assemble a lapbook. When using lapbooks for the first time with a child with special needs, keep the format simple. Children like the open-and-close-and-discover element of lapbooks, but when they’re too complicated, the flaps take away from the activities you intend the child to work on. You might want to start with a cutting the folder in half making the booklet smaller and easier to handle. This also reduces the number of activities in the booklet at once.

Open lapbook 1st page_using lapbooks with kids with special needs

3- Use contrasting colors. Use white paper on a dark-colored folder for greater contrast. Even if the illustrations never get colored, the contrast in color makes it easier for children to focus on the individual activities since they appear visually separate on the file folder.

Enlarged cards_lapbooks with kids with special needs

4- Enlarge smaller cards.  Some of the cards in this kit were too tiny for the child with fine motor difficulties. I enlarged them to 130% to get them to a size that is easier to handle.

Using lapbooks with children with special needs_Doubles of cards

5- Print doubles of picture cards. I printed the picture-word cards twice to create a matching game of both images and words.
Laminiated dry_erase section_lapbook for kids with special needs

Laminated dry_erase letter_lapbooks for kids with special needs

6- Laminate reusable parts. I like to laminate parts of a lapbook that get used often. This makes them sturdier and easier to handle. I also like to laminate parts that need to be colored and have the child use dry-erase markers. This is great for the anxious child who worries about making mistakes. With a simple wipe, he can color and write as many times as he’d like.

Velcro cards_using lapbooks with kids with special needs

7- Use Velcro to maximize hands-on use. Once laminated, add Velcro dots to the cards intended to be interactive. In this kit, one section asks to add all words that begin with a given letter to the box. By adding Velcro dots to the back of the cards and to the box itself, you’re helping the student to target the cards to the right place, but also reducing the frustration of loose-flying cards.

Open lapbook first 2 sections_using lapbooks with kids with special needs

Educents has a collection of lapbooks available at affordable prices.

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