Charo's Place
The Summer Keepsake Scrapbook

Ages: 7 and up
Goal: To practice and enjoy writing, drawing, and photography.
Project: Creating a summer scrapbook.
Materials: A large blank or lined book, pens, a glue stick and white glue, photo corners or clear tape.

For almost anyone, starting a summer journal is an act full of the best intentions. Often, and especially with dated diaries, after the journal is named and a few pages are filled enthusiastically, the inevitable missed days begin to accumulate. Soon, the book is clogged with haphazardly stuffed-in-mementos and apologies for neglect.

A much better option for recording summer memories is a keepsake scrapbook--a project that, like summer itself, imposes no deadlines and offers lots of room for creative experimentation. With pages for ticket stubs and photos, pressed flowers and beach sand, family stories, jokes, and dreams, or a tally of ice-cream cone favors and sports scores, your child's journal becomes a summer catch-all, organized around the principle that anything goes.

Getting Started: The first step is to take your child to a stationery store or office-supply store so she can pick out a large blank or lined book with no dated pages (a spiral-bound book that lies flat when open will be easiest to work with.) If you like, purchase a special pen with ink in a whimsical color like green or lavender.

At home, sit down together with a piece of paper and brainstorm: What would be fun to keep track of all summer long? You might include movies seen, animals observed, ice-cream cones eaten, money earned, books read, and favorite songs of the summer. How about collectibles? Memorabilia, such as concert programs, souvenir napkins, postcards, brochures, maps, autographs of friends, beach pebbles, feathers, and rubbings all make great additions. Invite your child to create a photo gallery of friends or family members and to keep a few pages for newspaper clippings. Then, compile a list of topics that would be fun to write about, such as movie reviews, silly stories, new jokes, odd dreams, or descriptions of places visited. Once your youngster has a list of categories, help her decide how many pages to dedicate to each one. Then, enter the headings on different pages throughout the scrapbook. (Be sure to leave plenty of pages without headings for spur-of-the-moment entries.) If you wish, number the pages and create a table of contents, or try making tabs for different sections out of index cards and clear plastic tape.

Finally, encourage your child to keep her scrapbook in an accessible place. If it's not top secret, she may want to keep it out in a family room, where she can work on it often.

One idea would be Scrapbook Sand: On one of the scrapbook pages, your child can mark off several 2-inch squares. From a beach, lake, or playground your family visits during the summer, she can take home a small plastic bag of sand. Cover a square with white glue, sprinkle the sand on the glue, and let it dry completely. Before closing the journal, turn it upright and give it a couple of sharp raps to dislodge any unglued sand (if you wish, you can put clear tape over the square to make sure the sand does not rub off).

A Scrapbook Photo Gallery: A themed photo gallery is a fun chronicle of the summer. The possibilities are endless, including photos of friends wearing hats, siblings at the beach, family members posing in a particular chair, and pets. Once your child has chosen a theme, give her a disposable camera or a roll of film for the family camera. Discuss picture-taking basics, such as holding the camera still, keeping the sun behind her, and framing pictures so the subject is in the middle of the viewfinder. Tell your photographer to stick to outdoor shots (natural light is easier to work with than interior light), then give her free artistic rein.

When the photos are developed, look at them together and discuss any problems that recur. Are the pictures too light, too dark, out of focus, or taken from too far away? With a new roll of film, try again. Then, your child can choose her favorite photos from both batches and affix them to her gallery pages using photo corners or tape.

Amazing Stories
Beach Sand
Favorite Summer Books
Brochure and Postcards of Places Visited
Drawings and Descriptions of Insects
Cloud Formations
Funny Family Stories and Legends
News Clippings
Garden Report (types of plants, harvest results)
Ghost Stories
Handprints, Footprints, and Fingerprints
Inches Grown
Favorite Ice-Cream Cone Flavors
Jokes and Riddles
Leaf Rubbings
Maps of Family Trips, with Routes Highlighted
Money Earned at Summer Jobs
Movie Reviews
Party Invitations
Photos of Family and Friends
Photos of Self
Postcards from Friends
Sketches and Other Drawings
Sleepover Dates (when and with whom)
Favorite Songs
Ticket Stubs (movies, concerts, plays, sporting events)
Sports Scores of Favorite Teams
Pressed Wild Flowers
Weirdest Food Eaten
Zoo Animals Seen

True or False

We're still paying off last Christmas and worry how we'll afford the holidays this year without charging it again! Tell us: Yes, we could use help getting out of the debt trap we're in! or No, debt is not a problem for us but I'm always looking for ways to trim my family's expenses further!

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