Our {B4FI♥AR} Lap Journal

For Heather. =)

Our finished Before Five in a Row Lap Journal:

17 "Rows" of Memories

The lap journal is: a lapbook, a scrapbook, and a portfolio ~ a record of our learning time together. 

A peek inside:

Sharing a journal works for us so I have only one lap journal for Mali and Elli. I let them choose which activities they want to do and encourage other activities based on their age and ability. 

I usually only print one lapbook, but do print extra pages for some activities they both can use. For example, I only printed one box of crayons in the above picture. Mali colored the cover and Elli colored the crayons inside (I color too!).  For mini-books that require glueing, I have one child place them in the correct spot, then take them off and have the next child glue them in the correct spot. If it a personalized mini-book, like the "My Name" book above, I will print two.  Often I will print activities (such as a preschool pack for Elli) and it is just for her. If Mali is interested, I will use sheet protectors so they both can do an activity. 

I write the child's name on the bottom with their age so I don't forget who did what! 

What we used to make the lap journal:
  • Binder (we use a 3 inch binder ~ buy the locking kind!)
  • Colored cardstock and printer paper
  • Heavy weight sheet protectors (can use lightweight for notebooking pages)
  • Rubber cement (cleans up nicely ~ be sure to let it completely dry before putting the page in the sheet protector as it bubbles the plastic if you don't!)
  • Vis-a-Vis Wet Erase Markers (to reuse printables)
  • scissors, crayons, color pencils, etc. 
What goes inside:
  • A color photo copy of the book we rowed (this is a great visual aid to help the children remember the books!)
  • Lapbooks lapbooked on 8.5 x11 cardstock
  • Notebooking pages
  • Narration and Illustrations
  • Copywork
  • Printable activities (Tot packs, Preschool Packs, etc.)
  • File folder games (just trim the ends so they will fit in the sheet protectors)
  • Collages
  • Artwork
  • Photos
  • Lesson planning sheets
  • Anything you can fit! 
How to store the journal:
  • Store upright just like a scrapbook
  • Keep where the child can see it
  • Encourage them to look through it!
We've started a new journal for Five in a Row. . .  I'm hoping to fit volumes 1 and 2 in one 3-inch binder. :D 


  1. I love this idea. It is a beautiful record of your rowing journey. I'm hooked, Blessings, Renelle

  2. This is fantastic. I'm going on the FIAR website now to see if it suits our family. Your binder certainly does! What a beautiful keepsake.

  3. What a great keepsake!  I love it :)

  4. Fantastic! I had been wondering how to store the lapbooks we've been making - I'm going to take my ideas from this! Thanks!

  5. Oh I love it. It is so neat and tidy. I can't wait to glean more from your adventures with FIAR now =) Thank you for sharing these posts. You always inspire me. Love you dear Michelle =)

  6. This looks so nice and organized. I love this idea and I think I will try to incorporate it. Thanks for sharing! :).

  7. This looks so nice and organized. I love this idea and I think I will try to incorporate it. Thanks for sharing! :).

  8. This is so lovely-Thank you for sharing!  I would like to do this and have one question:  For things that they "do," like sequence cards, or the yellow ball above below--where there are pieces, how handle those?  Do you just do the page with, say, the pocket & cards in the pocket and put the whole thing in a page protector, then if they want to do the activity again, just pull it out of the page protector?  That's what I'm thinking, but want to know if there's a better/easier way?  Thank you again--your blog has been a blessing to me.  As a mom of many, I tend to think, "oh, my littles prevent me from doing this, etc." but the workbook stuff isn't working!!  Thanks again!

  9. Your welcome! If it is a single lapbook and you trim the ends, you
    should be able to fit the lapbook in a page protector ~ then just pull
    it out when the kids wants to look at it! If it is too bulky, it might
    not fit. Jolanthe at Homeschool Creations offers another solution and
    that is to add duck tape to the ends of the folder and hole punch the
    duct tape to store in a 3 ring binder.

  10. It works better for me than stuffing art work, lapbooks, etc. in a
    storage box ~ I think it will be much easier to store, look back on
    and even use with my littlest one when he gets to Before Five in a Row
    ~ and many of the things I have included are reusable. =)

  11. One word. Awesome!

    THANK YOU for taking the time to share it with us.


  12. haha- I just noticed the dedication! The first time I went right to the pictures! Thanks so much for letting us see how you put it all together. Fantastic!


  13. Yes, Jo! You are correct. And I use velcro on some of the activities
    (like the yellow ball above/below activity) and then pull it out of
    the page protector when they use it. I do this with file folder games
    too, and other activities. Often times I do not glue activities onto
    cardstock and just stick them in the page protector. I did this with
    the yellow lacing ball in the yellow ball photo ~ I just paper-clipped
    it to the cardstock for easy removal.

    As a mom of 6, I understand how hard it is to balance the time between
    children and activities to make school fun and interesting for all! I
    will hopefully share more how I manage this [I'm still figuring it

  14. Awesome idea! We have just been "playing" so far in school.  I think Christopher is finally developmentally ready to do more formal "school" things.  This would work perfectly!  I love lapbooks and was fretting over how to store them.  THanks so much for the idea!!!!  :)

    Steph and Christopher

  15. Thank YOU for inspiring me to write it! ;-)

  16. I'm so relieved you have posted this as it also comes as perfect timing for me :D. I was wondering, do you separate each story, or is it separated by the cover page of each book like the front Runaway Bunny page? and how do you store the activities as you 'row' or do you make each part as you go along?

    Thank you so much for putting your time into helping and inspiring so many

    mamagot5, Australia.

  17. Great questions. I usually separate them with a cover page or a color
    photo copy of the book. Lately, I have been shrinking the photocopy of
    the book and including it as a lapbook component. I did this with
    Madeline. (Madeline {FIAR}) You could easily add dividers for each
    book, but I haven't done that. . . yet.

    I usually store the activities in a folder or basket, then add them to
    the journal for safe keeping when they are completed (and dry).

    Thanks for asking. =) I looked through our current binder and I think
    it needs something more ~ perhaps my planning sheets for each book, or
    a divider. The binder doesn't reflect all that we do, so adding a
    planning sheet would help, or even a typed summary of our row (like I
    write for a blog post). I think the older the children get, the more
    detailed I would get (for record purposes).

  18. I love your FIAR posts. You have done a wonderful job planning and organizing- and sharing to inspire others.

  19. What an awesome idea!!  Thank you for showing this off :)

  20. Fantastic post ~ helpful and inspiring! :)

  21. I really love this idea! I'm going to be doing BFIAR with my soon to be 3 year old and Kindergarten with my 5 and this is an excellent idea. Thanks for sharing!

  22. This is years later...but where did you find the printables for each book?

  23. Most of them came from homeschoolshare.com - most of the B4 titles can be found in the Level One - Toddlers and Preschoolers section. :)

  24. Here's a link: http://www.homeschoolshare.com/level1.php