I love scrapbooking – and it has found its way into our homeschool experience. Before all you who think you don’t have time or don’t have an arty bone in your body disappear just hear my definition of a scrapbook page: a photo, a title, some words. It is the same definition I have for a notebook page: a graphic, a title, some words. Scrapbooking doesn’t have to be fancy, mind you, neither do our notebook pages.
Several years ago when Daniel was struggling to write – there was a combination of poor fine motor skills, plus a delay in his reading/writing skills, plus a general lack of desire to improve. I connected his interest in photography with my desire to have him write just a little more. Each day I would send him out with his camera and he would take a photo of his everyday – toys, flowers, the road, birds, the dog etc and come back inside to write one sentence about it. We never finished the project because he started writing of his own free will and we didn’t have the time for the scrapbooking project. But it achieved its purpose.
In the scrapbooking world there is a genre of scrapping that has you take one photo a day, sometimes on a predetermined theme. Just Google “Photo of the Day (POTD) challenge” and you’ll find all sorts of lists to help you or your child see different things in your day to photograph and/or write about. If your child is into technology then there are apps that will support this idea. I use Photo 365 which reminds me to take a photo, inserts the photo into a calendar and gives me room to write about the photo. Instagram is another very popular photo sharing tool though I am sure there are many others.
Digital cameras have made it so easy to use photography with little kids – it doesn’t cost anything (other than buying the camera!). But if your child isn’t interested in photography then find images online on a subject they are interested in: animals, sport, solar system. They could easily create a scrapbook using someone else’s images (giving due credit of course).
No doubt you’ll start off with sentences like “This is my dog.” Well, that is a true sentence so it passes. But then you can start introducing your language arts lessons – little bit by little bit – but let them feel comfortable with one skill before you move onto something else, for example:
- Adding nouns and proper nouns: “This is my dog, Domino.” Talk about punctuation.
- You can then ask them a who-what-when-where-why-how question and get them to write down one of their answers in their daily writing. “This is my dog, Domino. She likes to run.”
- Then add adjectives and adverbs – describing words – “This is my dog, Domino. She likes to run fast.”
You get the picture. Little by little we can expand our kids writing.
There are other prompts around our everyday life that can encourage their writing too
- Recipes. If they spend some time in the kitchen get them to take a photo of their cooking (or the mess in the kitchen, or the family enjoying the meal) and copywrite the recipe
- Lists. Shopping lists – if they want you to buy something for a project, get them to write out the list and then take a photo of you shopping together, or the finished project.
- Letters/emails. Keep them short – maybe a ‘note’ is a better word – a note to Grandma and Grandad, and keep a copy for their scrapbook along with a photo of Grandma and Grandad(or a photo of whoever they wrote to)
- Book review – copy of the cover of a book they’ve read and their thoughts about it (remember to keep it simple, and honestly at where they are at)
- Bible story – my kids often drew about the Bible story we were reading – write one sentence (and slowly increase with ability) what the story was about or what they can learn from the story
- Copywrite a Bible memory verse – find a picture to illustrate
- Take a copy of a text screen (after a text conversation) and translate it in full and proper English – with a photo of their friend, parent, sibling – whomever you were texting
Do you remember playing around with different fancy handwriting for titles on our projects and stories. My favourite was Bubble writing. The equivalent to that today, in this technological age, is fonts. Kids love fancy fonts. Let them play. Let them use colour. Let them embellish. This is of course the scrapbooking part. Whether they use coloured paper, stickers and textas/markers or whether they use pixels (digital) let them enjoy presenting their work in a creative way.
Just as you and I have a different response to creative expressions so too will our kids. Our Joshua didn’t like creativity – it was all about the words for him – but he was not a reluctant writer. Neither was Jess though she liked to illustrate and present her words creatively, the words were (and still are) her focus. Nomi and Daniel though were reluctant – Nomi because drawing was so much more fun than writing and Daniel because of learning delays. Creativity was a significant hook for me to use with Naomi and Daniel. You need to know your children and be as simple or decorative as they like. The creativity is just the hook, the purpose is to think and communicate your thoughts (writing). Had Joshua, with no desire to be creative, been a reluctant writer what would have I done? I would have expected a photo, a title and a few words. If he didn’t want to decorate the page that is okay but the basics needed to be there.
One thing that often stops us from letting this happen is how much time it takes. Unless we see value in the creative side, we will simply rush them past this and get on with something else. I see value from two perspectives:
- While they are working on that page, they are – even if they don’t know it – engaging with the information on that page. As my kids got older I expected their embellishments to be connected with their subject which helps with their thinking broader on the subject at hand. But even before that, I believe the kids ponder as they create.
- As children place a photo on a page they are making design decisions – do I put it here, or here? Does it look best straight or on an angle? Does this colour match, or would this pattern clash? One definition I have of ‘art’ is to ‘communicate creatively’ – so as they learn to use colour, shape, space to communicate their ideas, they are increasing in art skills.
There really isn’t much difference between scrapbooking and notebooking – except if your child has become jaded with notebooking, or sees scrapbooking as fun, maybe it will be worth a switch. They needn’t know mum has the same goals, just using a different tool!