How Young Is Too Young? Creating Scrapbooks with Little Ones
Would you like to use up your tacky old scrapbook supplies, scrapbook while you are spending quality time with the children in your life, and create pages that are outside your normal style but that you absolutely love? If this sounds appealing to you, how about making scrapbooks with your children or grandchildren? You might think they are too young, but I started scrapbooking with each of my two sons when they were about 2 ½.
Some basic guidelines for scrapping with little kids are to keep it fun, let them be in charge as much as they can, and don't do more than they can handle in one sitting. I also like to add an educational aspect when possible. You can modify the techniques described here to suit the age and ability of your own children.
The first step is to get them their own supplies. This can be done by raiding your own stash, going to a store, or ordering over the Internet together. Although I often share my supplies with them, each son has his own supplies and a special place to keep it. Here is a basic supply list that you can start with:
- An album- I have found that the actual album is very important to the kids. In our case the cover must be their favorite color and we always put the pages in as soon as we are done.
- Paper - Offer either printed or solid, plus some smaller pieces of colored cardstock.
- Stickers - These are the best embellishments for kids; you can probably donate some from your stash.
- Alphabet stickers - Try to choose cardstock letter stickers, preferably those with a little background shape, that won't tear.
- An adhesive - You need one that the child is capable of using. We have had good luck with repositionable photo squares.
The first album that I did with my oldest son was a theme album about trains. He had been obsessed with trains since before he could walk or talk and was more interested in pictures of trains than of himself. I chose a 12" x 12" album and we used black and white cardstock for backgrounds. Since he was only two, we did shapes on every page. I had donated scraps of brightly colored cardstock to his supplies. We would use my punches and cutters to create circles, squares, triangles, and rectangles. I would put the adhesive squares on the back; he would peel off the little papers and place the shapes onto the background. I would let him put the shapes wherever he wanted, provided they didn't hang off the page. After that, we would adhere the photos (about three to four per page). I let him put the photos where he wanted and was careful not to tell him where they should go or to force him to put them straight. I just made sure that they were right-side up and not hanging off the page. Then he would use a letter sticker to add the first letter of the title and tell me anything else that he wanted me to write. For the finishing touch, we would add a sticker or two. The 12" x 12" size was nice because we didn't have to cut the cardstock and could put many photos on a page, although sometimes we didn't have enough photos of one theme and had to mix themes on a page. Here is an example of a page from his album:
We started his second album when he was almost four. This time we chose an 8" x 8" size. This has proved to be a good size for him because he had to learn how to measure 8" to help me cut the papers to size. He helps me line the paper up and then I let him carefully slide the blade down while I hold the paper. In this album, we often use printed papers and have been known to combine two papers on a page (mostly to use up those 4" leftover strips). We generally use one or two photos on a page and he always does the title himself. I write the title on a separate paper, so that he knows how to spell it and then he uses his stickers to put the title on. He now cares more about straight photos, so he asks me to help with placement. On the other hand, he doesn't care about matching fonts, so if he runs out of a letter, I provide it from one of my alphabet sticker sheets. He no longer has any patience for me to write, so there is almost no journaling in this album. We also experiment with different techniques; right now we are working with brads. (Brads are great because after I punch the hole, he can do everything by himself.) Here is an example of a recent page from this album:
My younger son is quite different from his older brother, so I took a different focus when I started an album with him. His favorite color was green and that seemed to be the only really important thing, so I decided to use a 6" x 6" green album that I had around the house. I took some green patterned paper and cut them into 6" x 6" squares. The good thing about this size is that it gets such great use out of a sheet of printed paper, but other than that it is too small for a kid to do much with. We generally use one photo per page and then a title or some stickers. The pages are so quick and simple that we often do three at a single sitting. After we finish some pages, we read the album from the beginning several times and then again at night when Dad gets home. Here is an example of a page from his album:
Regardless of your child's age and abilities, here are some suggestions that will help make scrapping with your child an enjoyable experience:
- Make the time that you work together special. Work with one child at a time and don't have other things going on.
- Read the album with your child and encourage him or her to show it to other grown-ups who are important in his or her life. This will create pride in his or her work and help to develop self-confidence.
- Use acid-free materials as you would use in your own scrapbooks so that their work will last forever.
- If your child is willing and able, let him or her draw or write on some of the pages in his or her own handwriting. This would be a great way to preserve the first time he or she can write his or her own name.
- Kids can make great shapes to decorate pages with decorative scissors. If you still have any of these, this is the best use for them that I have found.
- Let the child choose the subject and photos for each page, but from a limited selection. I always have stacks of photos around and I will provide several possibilities from which they can choose.
- Let the child design the page even if it goes against your natural sense of design. You can make suggestions, but remember who has the final decision.
- Let the child do as much as possible, including helping with the cutting tools (with safety limits, of course).
- Set limits about what you will and won't share from your own stash. My son gave me a lecture about sharing once, and since then I try to buy an extra sheet of any paper that I know he'll want.
Regardless of the details, the result will be precious together time for you and your child and a wonderful book that you can enjoy together. It will show the things that he or she loves combined with his or her own sense of taste and style. Together, you will create something that you both can be proud of and that will last forever.