Scrapbooking with Children

Making books together can create memories as good as the ones you put in them

Looking for a project you and your children can do together? Here's one that can be picked up and put down throughout the year: Remembering Journals--scrapbooks devoted to particular subjects or events, assembled primarily by the children. The results can be a valuable "log book" for your family.

Children from about the age of 6 upwards can make these journals but the younger the children, obviously the more you will have to help them. The purpose of the project is to practice writing and drawing skills and to learn about the world around us.

Because you want to emphasize that these are your children's scrapbooks, not yours, why not invest in a throwaway camera? That way, there are no worries that small hands might drop or otherwise break your good one. Your kids can then include photos they have taken themselves and no one has to fret about equipment.

What materials will you need?

A large scrapbook which can be obtained at any toy or stationary store, felt pens or colored pencils, white glue or a gluestick, and possibly photo corners. When you buy your equipment for this project, take the kids along with you so they can pick the pens and books they would like.

Often children have particular favorite topics such as teddy bears, sports, cartoon characters or trains to name just a few. If you can buy stationery with these themes you are more likely to keep their interest longer as they will enjoy working on the journals more than if they were plain covered.

What will be included in this journal?

Anything at all! Let the children lead the way. They can just fill the scrapbook with things as they happen. They can include jokes as they hear them, programs or mementos of trips they go on. Anything goes, really.

If you are an accomplished scrapbooker, try letting go of some of what you've learned; don't worry about whether your children's results will be entirely acid-free and archival quality, and whether artistically they're perfect. Let it come together as it may. This remembering journal doesn't have to have a deadline for putting work in it or finishing, either; you can add to it any time, or you can keep smaller one-subject scrapbooks with a definite start and finish, like a school holiday or a family trip, or even just a single month's worth of your family's life together.

When you start the project, get the kids to brainstorm ideas with you. What would they like to particularly include in their scrapbook? Movies? Animals seen naturally or on zoo visits? Books read? Places visited? What about maps, napkins, family snapshots, autographs of friends, feathers, brass rubbings, even drawings of friends or other original artwork or writing? The possibilities are endless.

Compile a list of themes or subjects that it might be fun to write like silly stories or jokes, dreams, areas of interest visited or any other descriptive writing which relates to the particular child's interest.

Keep the journal in an accessible place so it can always be found easily should they wish to add something on the spur of the moment (of course, if your child is quite young, you might want to make sure only you can reach the art supplies). There is nothing that dampens the motivation so much as having to search for something you need before using it.

Ideas to get you started

Here are some suggestions for including in your journal, or you can take any of these and make a scrapbook on a single topic:

Trips and Holidays: Include what happens each day of a school holiday, for instance. Save tickets from amusement parks. Bring back postcards. Save all ticket stubs, programs or brochures. Did you travel by train or plane? You will have tickets for these you can save and include in your journal. Draw a map of where you visited. Photograph road signs you pass on the way. Write a poem about a lovely place you have visited.

As an example, if your family takes a trip to the shore, take photos of the sea every day you're there. Make sandcastles on the beach and photograph them before they are washed away. Draw pebbles. Bring back sand and save in a small sandwich bag; stick into the scrapbook.

The Weather: Draw clouds that you see, or why not make a collage of them using cotton balls? Every time you get a new kind of weather, for example rain, wind, cloud, sun, write a poem with an illustration and stick in your book. What happens to your garden in different weather? Does it look different? Photograph it on different days to see what differences you can spot.

Your Family: Dedicate some pages to your family. Do a drawing of every member of your family. Get their autographs. What are their hobbies? Let everyone write something for you to include. What are their personalities like? Describe them.

Funny Stories or Jokes Your Hear:: Every time you hear a joke, include it in your book. Get your friends to donate their funniest stories for you to include. Clip any funny stories or cartoons they find in the newspaper.

Dreams: Ask everyone you know to tell you what their strangest dream was. Write out the dream with a photo of the person.

Obviously, younger children will need lots of help with these books especially if they are including their own work. But I am sure you will agree, these remembering journals are a great way to pass a few hours here and there and your kids will certainly have a great time making them--especially if you are helping.

At the start of a new school term your children might like to take them in to show their friends or teachers, or if you homeschool, these could be a valuable addition to your routine and a way to document your children's progress. When your children are older and they come across these scrapbooks they made years earlier they will thank you for the chance of having something to keep until they are adults. By making a journal every year you will have a sort of annual diary or family log book--something wonderful you can all look back on in later years!

Gail Miller is a writer and artist. Her websites include Gails Gallery, Stage Your Home To Sell and Cash For Crafts. © 1999-2017 Gail Miller, used by permission.