Lanyard Bookmarks

Lanyard Bookmarks

There are several times in a school year that allows children to create something for ones they love. The winter season holidays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and others. I know there just isn’t much time to spend on non-curricular activities. So, it is imperative that the time we spend on crafts in the classroom is minimal, the crafts are easy enough to complete quickly, or can possibly be taken home to finish. Also, the cost is not prohibitive. I know I still need to pay my mortgage each month.

These bookmarks are very easy, and have used them while I was teaching first, second, and third grades. It doesn’t matter how careful the children are making sure the lanyard lays flat. Parents usually are not bothered by the details. They love the projects because they are made by their child, and it is a useful gift.

Materials Needed for Lanyard Bookmarks

  • Plastic Canvas (This is the plastic canvas many crafters use for needle point boxes, projects, ornaments, etc.) 3-Colors-1-Lot-3Pcs-7CT-7-Count-Plastic-Canvas-Grid-90-70 for lanyard bookmarksThe canvas comes in many different colors, but I have found that clear works the best. You can see the colors of the lanyard. It comes in many sizes, so pick the size that will work for you. I usually use the largest, because it is cheaper. I will then cut it to the size I want.
  • Plastic lanyard, also called gimp (comes in many colors)

images (15)lanyard bookmarksScreen-shot-2011-01-14-at-1.25.04-PMimages (16)


The plastic canvas and plastic lanyard can both be found in any arts and crafts stores.

How to Make the Lanyard Bookmarks

  1. Cut the plastic canvas to the size you want. I make them, please excuse my non-exactness, but, 12 squares across. 12 is easily divided by however many colors the children choose. Yes, I allow the children to choose their colors! The length is whatever you want. Make sure when you cut the canvas you cut closely to the edges so there are not any jaggedy edges.
  2. Cut the lanyard longer than the canvas. I like to have fringes on both sides of the lanyard bookmarks. The children may want to make a pattern with the colors. I usually allow them to have up to 4 colors.
  3. To begin the weave, string one lanyard strip down the first hole on the edge of the canvas. I hold this with my thumb to make sure it is not pulled through. You could possibly tie the end, but it is difficult for it to stay tied. Trying to keep the lanyard flat, bring the end up through the next hole of the canvas.
  4. Continue going up and down all the way to the end.
  5. The next lanyard string, go up from the back of the first hole of the canvas. Alternating the beginning allows for a different pattern. It does not have to be alternated. The pattern can also be made by alternating the colors of the lanyard strings.
  6. One thing you want to make sure is to try to keep the lanyard flat. It tends to twist as it is pulled through the holes. If you get a twist, the only way to flatten it is to take it back out of the hole, and gently pull the lanyard, guiding it through slowly, making sure it stays flat. Some may want to make a pattern with twists.
  7. Once all of the lanyards are woven in the canvas, there are fringes at both ends. You could put beads on the ends, but I usually don’t. It is a bookmark that needs to be flat. I usually just cut off the excess at however long I want it. The children can do the (9)

These lanyard bookmarks make great gifts. I love that the children are developing small motor skills as they craft. I am not sure how many parents receive these as gifts. I assume the kids keep them! They love doing them.

Some tips

  • I give the children plastic sandwich bags to keep the lanyards contained. It is so easy to loose them.
  • Tell the children to only use one lanyard at a time and keep the rest in the bag.
  • Allow the children to take home whatever they don’t finish in class.
  • You may want to have the children wrap the lanyard bookmarks. They could use construction paper in which they decorate. Tissue paper is good, too.
  • Use straightened out paper clips to help them unweave the lanyard if there are twists.

Good luck and have fun!

Share any successes or other easy craft projects.

jbfsaleblog Although I have been making the lanyard bookmarks for about 20 years, this link is to another blog that I used the picture above.

Student Organizational Binders

Student Organizational Binders

For years now I have used student organizational binders for the students. These binders have everything in them that a student, parent, or teacher would need. Once the students know what they are, and how they are used, they embrace them, as well as the parents. I found them while searching on the Internet. I researched them to find the perfect name for the binder that follows my classroom theme. It has been awhile since I have searched for them, so I will try to give you some links to help you out. These student organizational binder have been a life saver on many occasions.

transform mess to organization

For my second graders, the first binder was called a BEE Book. Each of the letters in the word Bee stand for: Bring Everything Everyday. Of course everything was decorated with bees. I didn’t exactly have a classroom theme at the time, however, I did have these behavior posters with bees that I used: Be polite, be responsible, etc. It worked.

What is so special about a binder?

Well, as I said before, everything a student, parent, or teacher could want. It starts with a personalization of the binder. I used the clear view binders where you can place a cover in the pocket, usually the 1″ size. Depending on what you are putting into the student organizational binder depends on the size of the binder. 396291_p_052815I would make a poster/cover for each child. Here is an example of the one I used. amanda beecover good



The next addition to the BEE Binder is a contract. Mrs.McDowell’s Bee Book Here is a link to a website that I probably used as I was researching. She has some great downloads of what she included.

The contract is included to make the children more aware of how important these binders become to the classroom happenings. The contract in the student organizational binder spells out what and how to take care of the binder. I know a lot of time goes into the making of these binders. I don’t care about the time because I know how valuable they are in the workings of our day. Students sign the contract so they know what will be expected of them.

Inserts in Student Organizational Binders

Now for the good stuff, as if the previous stuff isn’t awesome. As I list some of these inserts you may be getting the brain explosion of what you can do to make your own binder. Remember, these student organizational binders purpose if for organization. I try and cover all bases and include probably way too much. It’s OK.

1. Contact Information- Make sure you include your email and the school phone number.

2. Specials- I list the special of each day so the students can be prepared for each one.

3. Spelling Activities- I usually have a list of activities the children can choose for homework.

4. Math Helpers- I usually include a hundred chart, tens frame, addition chart, etc. These will always be available for homework reference.

5. Handwriting Poster- This I include so the children will always have a reference to how to make the letters properly.

6. Behavior Policy Expectations- I need to have the parents aware of my expectations so we can all be aware of what is expected. I usually have students, parents, and myself sign.

7. Planner- Our PTN supplies each class with a planner. I include this so homework can be posted each night. It also serves as a communication between school and home. Reminders, activities, etc., are recorded in the planner. You can download homework forms if you don’t have access to the planner.

8. Pouch- I use the pencil pouches that you can get at the back to school sales during the summer for under a dollar. The pouch can house any lunch money, notes, pencils, etc., that usually gets lost in a bookbag. If it is accessible in the student organizational binder, the students know exactly where it is when needed.

9. Lunch Menu- No more questions on what the cafeteria is serving that day.

10. Homework Pouch- I found these pocket folders with velcro closers that will house any thing the students will need for homework. Math worksheets, spelling notebook, reading log, homework tracking sheet.

Each of these inserts are placed in a clear sheet protector for durability. These binders are expected to last the whole year.

student organizational binders


I also printed out labels so there is no confusion about where things go.

  1. Inside the binder cover, I make sure I have a folder pocket. I put a label entitled, ” Important Papers” for any announcements that come from school.
  2. I also put a label on the back folder pocket entitled, “Bee-u-ti-ful Work- Keep Home.” This is for all the corrected work that usually gets shoved in desks.
  3. I put a label on the pouch entitled, “Money, Notes, Etc.”
  4. I also label the “Homework” Pouch.


Using the Student Organizational Binder

As we go through our day, the BEE binder becomes “The Place to BEE.” When the students enter the classroom in the morning, all homework needs to be placed on their desks. All they need to do is open their BEE books. I also sign, or check off, all homework completed in the planners.

As we go through our subjects in a day, and as homework is assigned, they go right into the BEE binder. There should be no more papers shoved in desks.

At lunch time, if students have money for lunch, go right to the BEE binder to get it. Book Fairs, Plant Sales, Supply Cart, etc., look for what they need in the BEE binder.

At the end of the day, the students write their homework in their planners, I then sign them to make sure they have it written down. There should be no questions about homework. Parents expect to see the planner each night, they sign when homework is completed. All homework is then place back in the BEE binder. No excuses.

I rely on the binders. They allow you to be a proactive planner, in that, all of your organization is done by using the binders. If there was a way to organize my moment by moment actions: misplacing homework sheets to hand out, spelling word list, etc. I’m working on it.

Here is a link to a site that has a ton of student organizational binder names. I used BEE Binders because it worked for me. Now that I am in 3rd grade, my classroom theme is My Rockin’ 3rd Grade, so I use a STAR Book- Students Taking Awesome Responsibility. Moose books, frog books, etc., are listed. Enjoy Acronyms for Student Organizational Binders

I hope you have fun creating and collecting for your student organizational binders.

Please share how yours comes out.

Fractured Fairy Tales

Fractured Fairy Tales

Our last Unit of Study is Once Upon a Time, where the children write their own fractured fairy tales. It is a great unit at the end of the year. Before we start the unit, I immerse the children in fairy tales. We talk about what fairy tales are, how they came about, and what makes a fairy tale a fairy tale. I made a folder with several handouts for them to use throughout the unit. There are some great resources out there- FREE!anchorchartfairy tale story elements

The first day I read two different versions of Cinderella, both from different countries. We then used a venn diagram to compare the similarities and differences of the two stories. I also printed a world map so as we read Cinderella stories from around the world we marked where the story took place from: There is whole pdf unit about Cinderella in which the map is included. Each day after that I read a different Cinderella story and as their readers’ response, they compared the stories in their notebooks.

Fractured Fairy Tales: Cinderella

After a few days of Cinderella, I found a fractured fairy tale of Cinderella online at: I read it to them while they followed along. We began talking about the elements of fairy tales and fiction and that fractured fairy tales area fairy tale that has been changed in some way. Either the gender of the main character, the setting, the conflict, the solution, something is changed. The comparisons of the Cinderella helped the children see how the story could change by geography.

We also had a discussion about how to change the point of view the story is told. A great example of that is “The True Story of the Three Little Pigs.”download (7)This story is told from the point of view of the wolf. I found a great graphic organizer to help the children understand more about the point of view from: Here is a photo of it. fairy tale point of view graphic organizer


So after a week the students were then ready to write their fractured fairy tales. I had them make a plan for their story, pretty much a story map, listing the characters, setting, conflict, etc. I had many fairy tale books that the children could refer to as they chose their fairy tale and then fractured it. They were so excited about the prospect of writing their own story!

I also was able to find a fractured fairy tale readers’ theater. It’s called, “Fairy Tale News” from Scholastic. download (8)The story of the play is a news station with roving reporters interviewing fairy tale characters. It is really cute and the children giggle at all the funny parts. We are going to be performing it for their parents this week at our end of year party. They are so excited!!!! We planned what they could wear, using microphones, blocked out where they will speak. I even made a power point with backgrounds for each of the interviews.

There are so many things you could do with fairy tales. As Einstein said, “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”

Customizing Mini Books in Lapbooks

Lapbooks are a great way for teachers to assess their students’ learning. Of course, you, as a teacher, need to assess the students according to your curriculum. So, hence, customizing mini books.

Customizing Mini Books

As we speak, I am teaching a unit in science on forces and motion. As I looked at all the objectives in my science curriculum, I now had the awesome task of putting content from the text book into mini books. I find this part of lapbooking the most exciting. There are so many different kinds of mini books, and matching objectives and design to mini books lets my creativity explode. Usually as I lament about the good ole’ days of teaching, “I used to be very creative in the classroom, when we could do art projects, unit projects, etc. We can’t do that anymore.” Any one with me here? Well, lapbooking is a way to creatively bring your creativity back in the classroom.

So, one of the objectives in my unit is list ways of motion. I counted and there are six different motions. I need to find a mini book that will have six ways to list ways of motion. I found a six petal book that would allow me to customize my mini book. After we read from the text book, I had the children record the six ways of motion, one on each petal. I also had them show, using arrows, how the motion is performed. They were the able to personalize their mini book by decorating and coloring. We then folded the petals in, glued them onto the lapbook.

customizing mini book 6 petal book

Customizing mini books allows you to follow a line of thinking as you prepare them. Another mini book I made for this unit was the vocabulary mini book. As I searched for mini books, I saw a puzzle template. That intrigued me, to make a puzzle piece vocabulary book. I looked through all of my jigsaw templates and found one that had just two pieces of jigsaw puzzles interlocked. I thought if I could put the vocabulary word on the one piece, the children would be able to record the definition on the other piece. customizing mini books puzzle pieces


Customizing Mini Books in MS Word


I use Microsoft Word to do my customizing mini books. I will tell you how with this program. You may have experience in another program, which is great. It is much easier and to save some time, format each piece before copying. Once I insert the template into a document I need to delete one of the pieces.  So, I double clicked on the picture, and this brings up the tool menu for photos. I clicked on the crop tool. I click and drag to crop off the third piece.670px-Put-Photos-in-a-Microsoft-Word-Document-Step-6Bullet2


I now can add a text box for the vocabulary words. Click on insert, text box, and choose draw a text box. You will then need to put your mouse over the puzzle piece and click and drag to make a box. Once you let go of the mouse button, you will see a rectangular box. Click inside to get the cursor. Choose your font, size, and I usually bold the words. I don’t usually like to see the box around the words, so I format the text box by going to the text box format tool. Click on the text box, and click on the no outline choice. You will then see a blue box which you can see now, but it won’t be there when you click off of it. Click on the paint can and click on no color. This will make the text box clear. You can type the word now, or wait until you copy the puzzle piece.

download (6)

Now I can now copy as many images as I will need. For my project, I needed 6 copies for 6 vocabulary words. Place the mouse over the image and right click the mouse. Move the arrow to copy, and click. Place the mouse on the document anywhere except on the image, right click and move the arrow down to paste. You will then see two images. Repeat this step until you have enough puzzle pieces.

Now you need to do the same for the text box. It has already been formatted so it will copy all of the formatting, which saves lots of time. Place your mouse over the blue lined text box until your mouse turns into a four arrow. Then right click on the blue line, move the arrow down to copy. Then move your mouse over one of the puzzle pieces, right click and move the arrow down to paste. Repeat this step 6 times. You will need to click and move each text box into the puzzle piece.

Now you can click in each text box. It will be invisible, but once you click where you put the box, the cursor will appear. Type each word in a text box.

Customizing mini books is not all that difficult, if you know what to do. I hope I have been able to help you with the beginning steps. If you have any problems, you can comment at the bottom.

I would love to hear from other people and what programs you use in customizing mini books.


I have prepared a tutorial on customizing mini books in microsoft word. Just click on the link.


Create A Lapbook-A Few Steps

Create a Lapbook

The time has come. I have given you information on finding free lapbooks. I have given you information on lapbook templates. I have given you information on creating the base. It is now time to put all of this information together to create a lapbook of your own.

Don’t panic. It just takes a little planning. This post will be from the perspective of an elementary school teacher, since that is what I am. I am almost positive the homeschoolers use the same process. So, whether you are a school teacher or homeschool teacher, just follow the process.

Step 1

My first step in the process to create a lapbook is to see what my objectives are for my unit I am studying. These objectives are taken directly from my district curriculum. I open my teacher’s edition to the pages that the unit is presented. I usually make a Unit Plan in a document so I can make sure all the objectives are covered in the lapbook. (I also list the mini books I will be using, just in case.I will also list all materials that will be needed to create a lapbook.)I am working on a third grade unit called “Forces and Motion” where the 3 laws of motion will be examined, therefore, I will be using this as my sample.

Step 2

Now I will begin searching for appropriate worksheets that can be transformed into mini books, or the content or photos, will be useful. I also search for free premade lapbooks because there may be some usable content already made. My ongoing philosophy is, “Why reinvent the wheel.” If somebody already made one, why do I need to do the whole thing over. I am also for, “If you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” If I borrow or use something from someone else, I am willing and ready to share back.

Now, using the objectives that I need to meet in this unit, I can begin matching worksheets or ideas for mini books to them. I do read the textbooks with my children, so I will use the text to help guide me as well.

I usually do a vocabulary mini book of some kind. Using the correct vocabulary, in other words, academic vocabulary, is the first hurdle in children learning the content. I use the words and the definitions from the book, so there is no confusion about its usage. Here is the one I made for this unit. vocab flapbook motion This is a shutter fold mini book that I copied from a pdf and pasted in a word document. I then inserted text boxes in each square with the vocabulary word. To cut and fold, cut out around the whole book. Then fold on the middle line, and both side ones so you have a very skinny book. Next, open up the folds and cut on the lines separating the words. The children will then lift the flap to write the definition under the flap. Vocabulary Shutterfold Mini book for create a lapbookvocab shutterfold

Marzano academic vocab templateI have also used _vocab_1_frayer_model this template used by Marzano. The children need to know and use these words frequently for them to become a part of their every day language.

Much of learning about science, physics in particular, is allowing and providing hands on activities. What better way to learn about magnetic force than to allow the children to “play” with magnets. So once they have had time to play, I would them have them reflect on what they learned. I found two great mini books about magnets: one from, and another from

I found a wonderful resource about Newton’s Laws of Motion. This resource is a mini book called a window book that allows the children to illustrate the three laws of motion as they are learning about them. Here is the link:

Step 3

As soon as I have all of my objectives covered, I can then create a lapbook design of the base. You will  need to print out all of the mini books and make them. Then place them on the base until they all fit. Sometimes you will need to add extensions. Once it all fits, its time to try it out with the children.

Mini Books

Making Mini Books

For many years I was very involved in rubber stamping and really enjoyed making the pop up cards, window cards, and all kinds of complicated folding cards. Although I was not into origami, I relished the idea of movement in the card. I am sure that is why I enjoy lapbooking so much. The folding and creating of these mini books is fascinating.

Every year when I get a fresh bunch of new third graders they are introduced to the world of lapbooks by making mini books. At first, they have a difficult time cutting, folding, and even pasting because they haven’t done it before. I do a lot of modeling, demonstrating each step in the process, so they can do the same step. Once they have made a couple of mini books, they feel like they are experts. It just takes a little time for them to experience the outcome. Once they see the finished product, they are amazed that they could do it.

This is a template for a Hexagon Petal mini book. The students would cut out on the solid lines, and fold on the dotted lines.hexagon petal mini books

The first picture is a hexagon petal mini book template. The students would cut out on the solid lines, and fold on the dotted lines. The second picture is a finished product of the hexagon petal mini book. After it has been cut and folded, the students now record.

Using Mini Books as an Assessment Tool

I am amazed at what the children write in the mini books. I use the mini books as ann overview or review of what we learned. After I teach the lesson, or we read from our science or social studies books, we launch the mini book of the day. We first cut, fold, and/or whatever needs to be done, then comes the fun stuff.

If there is a lot of vocabulary words in our study, we work with the vocabulary. If there was a lot of content, we work on organizing that content. Graphic organizers are great additions to lapbooks. The information you organize, can be directly organized in a mini book.

Venn-Diagram-GraphicThis venn diagram could be easily converted to a mini book by just folding in each side to the middle and opening up the shutters.

The following pictures are some mini books that have been completed by students. (I did not take pictures of my students’ lapbooks, silly me. So, I used a trusted google search to find these treasures.)

4399134_origvocabulary mini booksimages (1)Aren’t these great?

The children can then color, decorate the books in any way so long as they don’t go overboard. The information they write is the important stuff. I can then assess what they have learned, or what I need to go over the next time.

Name Area and Perimeter

Grid Paper Name Area and Perimeter

Name Area and Perimeter- As my third graders were working on learning area and perimeter I had the children design their names on grid paper. As they made their names tracing the outline of squares on grid paper, they colored the squares in and traced with either marker or black crayon around the letters. We had just finished learning about the section on perimeter and moved on to area. I suggested that they only use the full squares, as we had not yet learned how to estimate using the partial squares for area. I  used half inch grid paper so it was large enough to work with.

The children were then were asked to find the perimeter of each letter, and then their whole name. The same thing was asked of them to find the area of each letter and then the whole name. It was a great way to reinforce the concept of finding perimeter, and learning the new concept of area.

We then compared our names to see if any names had the same area and perimeter. It was interesting to see how shocked they were to find other students with different names but had the same area and/or perimeter.

Patterns to find Name Area and Perimeter

Another idea that could have been done was to have them color their names in patterns, such as a,b,a,b, where “a” is red and “b” is blue. They can find the fraction of red and the fraction of blue squares, either for area or just plain fractions of a set.


area and perimeter mosaic self portraits

I just saw a post on I Want to be a Super Teacher blog about making a mosaic using colored construction paper self portraits and finding the name area and perimeter of these pictures. How adorable is that?

My school does not have bulletin boards, but this name area and perimeter project would have been a great bulletin board! Student learning in action!!!

Name Area and Perimeter- see sample below.

Sample of Name Area and perimeter

name area and perimeter

Read more

How to Fold and Cut a Folder into a Folder Lapbook

How to Fold and Cut a Folder into a Lapbook

A One Folder Lapbook- Shutter Fold

  1. Open a file folder and lay it flat. This can be any kind of folder, legal or letter size, colored, printed, plain.
  2. Fold each side into the middle. The tab of the folder will fit together with the other side.1b54ab4d1655756800407b309cd0a509
  3. The sides now become the cover of the lapbook, creating a shutter fold.How to create a folder lapbook- fold both edges in to middle.

Adding More to the basic folder

  1. If you need more space to place the mini books, you can add extensions by taping a piece of oaktag, a folder that was cut in half, or cardstock to the top of the base. You can then use both the front and back of the extension. You can also add another extension on the bottom. Using decorative tape will most definitely add color and dress up the base.lapbook_extra_flapAstronomy-Lapbook

How to Create a Folder Lapbook

A Fun, Slightly More Complicated Base (But, Oh, so fun to make)

  1. You will need 2 file folders of the same size. Open them both and lay flat.
  2. Take one of the folders and cut on the fold, approximately 1 inch on the top and bottom.single_file_folder_outside_cuts_shown (1)


  1. Take the other folder and cut from approximately 1 inch from the bottom to approximately 1 inch from the top.single_folded_inside_cut_shownimages (3)
  2. Take the first folder that had the two cuts at the top and bottom. You will need to roll the folder into a cylinder and fit it inside the other folder. Let it unroll. Match the cuts at the top and bottom with the uncut sections of the other folder.making_multiple_page_lapbook
  3. This now makes several pages.images (4)

How to Create a Folder Lapbook

One More Way

1. Fold 3 folders and fold them into shutterfolds. DSCN2059

2. Lay them side by side, and fold up each of the shutters.DSCN2062_thumb

3. Glue the first folders’ right hand shutter to the second folders’ left hand shutter.

4. Glue the second folders’ right hand shutter to the third folders’ left hand shutter.040547

All images from images.

Lapbook Basics-What do they look like?

Lapbook Basics- Where Do I Start

I’ve been talking about lapbooks, as if everyone knows exactly what they are. So let me take a post to show and explain exactly what they are. Here are the lapbook basics.

Each lapbook starts with a folder. Depending on how large your topic is, depends on how many folders or faces you need. The folders I use are usually plain manilla file folders, however, you can use just about any kind of folder you want. They make the coolest folders that are already printed, colored, duotang pocket folders, the list and choices are not limited. (all photos taken from google images) I have even used just plain oaktag, or cardstock.

download download (1) download (4) download (5)


The size of the folder does not matter either. Letter size or legal size? It all depends on what you will be adding to the overall topic of your lapbook.

download (1) download


Lapbook Basics- After the Folder

The front of the folder will be the cover. Sometimes there will be already made covers, especially if they are pre-made. I usually have the children create their own covers, and decorate according to the theme. This allows the lapbook to be personalized. The more they own the lapbook, the more they own their learning. I provide tracers so they can letter the cover, markers, crayons, colored pencils, etc.

Here is a photo of a cover from a pre-made lapbook set, and also a cover created by a child.images (2)Debussy-lapbook-600x397

Below is a picture of a lapbook showing two faces.

Beethoven-lapbook-inside-600x397 lapbook basics


These images were taken from


Here is a lapbook that has several faces.

currclick lapbook


The mini books will be displayed on each of the faces.

I love the color. I love the visual effect. I love the learning that goes into making a lapbook. This is just the beginning. My next few posts will be about crafting and building the lapbook.

Please share any lapbooks you may have made. If they are online, please provide the links. I love seeing what people have created.


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