Kids craft: Scrapbooks for the boys

A few months ago, as I was wandering through our local Officeworks stocking up on photo paper and printer cartridges, I came across some hard bound A3 art journals. The quality of the pages and the cover was great, and they even came complete with an elastic band to hold the book together. I must’ve stood there in the aisle for almost fifteen minutes debating whether or not it would be wise to make such a purchase (they were almost twenty dollars each), but in the end, I went with my gut.

I bought three.

I brought them home and told the three big boys I had a surprise for them. After they’d finished packing away their toys for the day, we sat down on the floor of the family room together, their faces twitching with curiosity.

I opened my shopping bag and showed them the three journals.

“These are your scrapbooks!” I told them.

Blank looks.

“We’re going to stick your drawings, photos and other things into these books. See? I even bought each of you a new glue stick!”

Happy faces! (Very happy faces.)

I got out my set of alphabet stamps, and the boys each stamped his own name onto the first page of his scrapbook. We even wrote their names in black marker on each of their glue sticks. They were all pretty keen to start sticking things in straight away but, alas, it was dinnertime, so I stowed the books safely away with a promise to take them out again on the Saturday.

I spent the rest of the week collecting bits and pieces of things that they’d done into three Kraft folders, and I labelled each one with their names.

That first Saturday, the three boys and I sat around the dining table and we spread out all our materials. One by one, I helped each of them cut this and that, and stick things into their scrapbooks. I asked them to give names to their drawings, and as I wrote them down and dated each picture, and the first few pages filled up with their creations, I could almost feel their sense of self grow before my very eyes.

For those of you who read my memory keeping posts, you might wonder how these scrapbooks fit into my overall framework for memory keeping. In my mind, these are their scrapbooks. For them to work on, for them to fill with things that they want to include.

I’m not sure why I hadn’t thought of this earlier. As a young girl, I remember mum buying me my first scrapbook and how I loved putting all sorts of paraphernalia. To anyone else, it would’ve been a junk book. But to me, it was precious, because it was mine.

Prior to these scrapbooks, I had been keeping the A3 paintings that Angus and Pete did at preschool (with the view to scanning and compiling them into a photo book) but I was pretty much throwing out everything else because I didn’t think it was feasible for me to keep, scan and print out every single scribble or drawing that the three boys did. It was always bothered me a bit, though, as if somehow I was discarding part of their childhood.

I love these scrapbooks for several reasons:

  • It’s something that the boys and I can do together on a Saturday. It’s a chance for me to spend a bit of focused one-on-one time with each of them.
  • They get to practise cutting and gluing. I’m not a naturally craft type of mama, so at the very least, if no other craft happens during the week, there’s this.
  • We’re filling the books up with their creations, which makes it a wonderful record of their creativity and imagination.
  • Finally, there’s a place for all those random scribbles and drawings which I would otherwise discard.
  • If they make something awesome during the week (e.g. out of blocks or Lego), I can easily snap a photo with my iPhone, send it to my Pixma for printing and then pop that into the Kraft folder as well, to be included into these books.
  • It’s something that belongs to the boys. It’s something that they can look at whenever they want. (It’s not something that I have to worry about getting damaged.)

The other thing that we put into these scrapbooks are photos that the boys take. Some of the photos that Angus has snapped on our IXUS are quite impressive in terms of composition and lighting, and I love having an easy (and logical) place to showcase them.

Even though the art journals I bought were a little on the expensive side, I knew after that first weekend that it was the right choice. The sturdy hard bound covers make the scrapbooks feel solid and that much less likely to fall apart, while the thick pages have proven quite tough when it comes to withstanding vigorous gluing! And yes, I will admit that the minimalist in me likes the classic look of the plain black cover. After all, I would love for the boys to want to hold on to these, even when they’re all grown up.

The A3 size seemed too big at first (I almost died laughing watching our two and a half year old drag it behind him like a surfboard), but again, it proved to be the wise choice. The bigger size means that we can fit a lot of things onto the one page, and by cutting away some of the negative space around their drawings (an extra activity for the boys to take part in), we can fit even more! (Sometimes if they’ve accumulated an excessive amount of random scribbles, I might cull some the night before, but this doesn’t happen very often.) The whole point is that I don’t want to keep buying new scrapbooks, and I wouldn’t be surprised if these ones last us at least a couple of years.

Most of the time I try to monitor their gluing and help the younger two decide where to put things. Other times, I just let them go wild and stick things wherever their heart desires, as I know we can always go back and fill in the empty spaces later.

Those of you who do Project Life are probably wondering how these tie in with the boys’ Project Life albums. Up till now, I haven’t actually included any of the boys’ artwork into their PL albums, so for now, they’re mutually exclusive. It will be interesting to see what happens when they each start school, but for now, I’m trying not to over-think it.

Do you do something similar with your child(ren)? I would love to hear your ideas!

22 comments

jodi August 14, 2013 at 2:40 am

You need to open an online store with all the products you use…I will happily be your first customer. This is a beautiful idea and one that I’ll add to my ever-growing list of “must-get-around-to-that” x

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san August 14, 2013 at 2:40 am

This is such a great idea ronnie! Do show us some snippets of the boys books later! Such a wonderful keepsake.

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Tori August 14, 2013 at 3:31 am

fab idea!!

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Pink Ronnie August 14, 2013 at 10:11 am

Thanks Tori, and thanks for visiting.
Ronnie xo

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Sara Kiiru August 14, 2013 at 3:56 am

I’ve recently begun following your blog, and I LOVE it. This idea in particular especially appeals to me. For Christmas I’d bought my boys cheaper versions of those same books, also because I enjoyed the thought of accumulating one every year and having a whole shelf of them looking all sleek and appealing. My boys and I have been using it to do various craft projects, mostly watercolor and drawing with markers/crayons. I have very little artistic ability, but the boys love having that time together. It never occurred to me to have them use the books as their own scrapbooks. Can’t wait to experiment with that! Thanks for inspiring!

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Pink Ronnie August 14, 2013 at 10:13 am

Hi Sara,
Thanks so much for your kind words. Glad you like it here. Aren’t boys awesome? How many do you have? :)
Ronnie xo

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Kirsten August 14, 2013 at 4:05 am

I was just this morning wondering how to do scrapbooks. My three year old announced she wanted to go to the aquarium this morning (we had only just been on Sunday) so I suggested we could take photos and make a scrapbook like on Play School… I knew I didn’t want to use a supermarket scrapbook (I hear you on vigorous gluing!) and there you came to the rescue! I hadn’t thought of an ongoing scrapbook; what a great idea.

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Meg O August 14, 2013 at 8:54 am

LOVE this idea. You have inspired me greatly. I love the idea of having children collate and store their own work. And this is such a practical way to store the mass of random art & craft that comes home from kindergarten…
Thank you!

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Rebecca August 14, 2013 at 9:04 am

That’s a great idea! Can’t wait to start!

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Pink Ronnie August 14, 2013 at 10:15 am

Hello lovely Bec! :)
Ronnie xo

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juni // hej juni August 14, 2013 at 1:49 pm

your ideas are always so beautiful! love how you really know how to equip the kids with basics and just let them be creative.

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Callie August 14, 2013 at 2:29 pm

I love this idea!! So very thoughtful in all that you do.

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Natalie @ ArchitectMAMA August 14, 2013 at 7:48 pm

So grateful to see this post. I have a sketchbook and journal, so my three-year old always wants to get her hands on them and draw. Last year I bought her a tiny sktechbook –about 3″x4″ This way, my daughter has one of her own to draw in. As for mother/daughter drawings, we do those, too and they are in my sketchbook and journal. I like the idea to have larger albums so you can also store artwork in them. As usual, you have presented everything so beautifully.

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Pink Ronnie August 15, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Thx Nat.
Ronnie xo

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rooth August 14, 2013 at 10:15 pm

These are going to be great memory keepers for the future. I remember doing something very similar to this with my grandfather and to this day, it’s one of my fondest memories with him

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Elizabeth Beattie August 14, 2013 at 10:43 pm

Thank you so much for this idea!!! I have been collecting my four year old twin daughters’ artwork for two years now, with plans to just place them in a box. I love this idea so much more. Thank you again!

Warmly,

Elizabeth

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Pink Ronnie August 15, 2013 at 12:06 pm

Glad to have helped Elizabeth! Thanks for visiting.
Ronnie xo

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Gude @HodgePodgeCraft August 15, 2013 at 10:07 pm

This is SUCH a lovely thing to do and something they will treasure when they are older.

I have been keeping my little ones’ artwork in boxes, but I much prefer this – I think I will be on the hunt for some scrapbooks to include in their Christmas gifts this year…!

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Pink Ronnie August 16, 2013 at 12:14 pm

I hope they do treasure these when they’re older! :)
Thanks for swinging by, Gude.
Ronnie xo

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Amanda August 17, 2013 at 1:17 pm

What a fabulous idea Ronnie! Grace does so many drawing and bits and pieces here… I only keep my favourites, dated on the back which I slip into a display type folder (one for each year). However, I love that this is something little ones can take ownership over x

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Natalie August 24, 2013 at 7:57 pm

I love this idea. My six-year-old has a journal that we started last year. He draws pictures and then uses stories or sentences to illustrate his picture. I let him pick what he wants to draw, But sometimes prompt him with ideas. This is a great idea for my two-year-old and for the six-year-old’s artwork!

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I love hearing from you!

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