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Scrapbooks and Home Schooling = A Winning Combination!

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By Kelly Crespin

If you are reading this article, chances are you already home school. Most of us have been through curriculum reviews, textbook decision making, choosing which units to teach and making numerous lesson plans. One way to reduce the planning, decision making and testing formats is to use scrapbooks in daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly lesson plans...and with wonderful end results!

Scrapbooks have changed so much through the years. A decade or two ago, scrapbooks were plain books with pages that yellowed through the years. Page protectors were unheard of, and the type of glue one used was a regular "school glue" that dried and cracked with time. These days things have changed, with an intense focus being put on preservation and saving our memories, whether they are photographs, newspaper articles, or journaling of stories and anecdotes.

One important way scrapbooks can be used with our lessons is to preserve what our children are learning and how they are going about learning it. Documenting field trips, special visitors, unusual projects and even the day-to-day learning we all do is a wonderful idea! While learning to write doesn't seem that thrilling as G's are formed and T's are crossed, looking back on how far your child's handwriting has come is quite an eye-opening experience! It's hard to believe, looking at your 7th grader's cursive writing, that she ever struggled to write her name!

People often tell us to enjoy the years when our kids are young, because they pass all too quickly. This is such a true statement, but preserving your children's memories and school days can provide hours of reminiscing when the children are older. We all would tend to agree that taking pictures of our child's birthday parties, riding a bike for the first time, or recording a first lost tooth is important. But just as important is a record of how and what our children have learned with regards to writing, reading, math, science, and all other subjects.

Some examples of papers, photographs and journaling to put in a scrapbook might include:

  • Samples of your child's first printing of the alphabet, words, sentences, etc.
  • Samples of your child's first attempts at cursive writing
  • Examples of the first time(s) your child added numbers
  • A picture of your child working on a science experiment
  • Art work your child has drawn, painted, etc.
  • Photographs of any 3-dimensional artwork such as sculptures, large art pieces, murals, posters, etc.
  • A photograph of your child standing next to his first science fair project
  • Your child's thoughts about her first day on the local soccer team
  • Your child's hopes, dreams, aspirations and goals (yearly)

A second important way scrapbooks can be used with home schooling is to have your child make her own books about subjects she has studied. Depending on your child's age, she can complete the entire scrapbook, or parts of it, entirely by herself. Completing a project like this involves time management, cost analysis, layout and design, creativity, using color, and journaling. Journaling alone can provide practice with handwriting, grammar, spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and many more skills.

Some book themes and ideas to consider might include:

  • Buildings Through the Ages
  • The History of Music
  • Republican Presidents
  • How Gears, Levers and Pulleys Work
  • How Thanksgiving Came to Be
  • Religions Around the World
  • Trees of the Eastern Region of the United States
  • My Favorite Poems

Scrapbooks can be included in any subject no matter how unusual it is! Scrapbooks also tend to be a lot more interesting and enjoyable for students to complete, as opposed to essays, written reports, and the other "usual" methods of assigning projects. Students tend to LIKE working in their scrapbooks, while enjoyment is not always a factor when a one has a report to write! And, while papers and worksheets tend to be pushed aside or thrown away when finished, a scrapbook is something of which a child can be proud. It's a special transcript and yearbook of a time in your child's life.

When we started home schooling most of us had to make certain decisions. Just as we had to decide whether to homeschool "on a shoestring" or go "all out" using a complete curriculum, using scrapbooks when teaching can be simple or elaborate. A scrapbook can be costly or inexpensive. It can use homemade designs and decorations or can be store-bought. The scrapbook may be small or large, thick or thin. There is no right or wrong way to make a scrapbook as long as the book uses acid free materials so the memories within will be preserved for years and years to come. Once you start using scrapbooks in your home schooling you might just find that your child is more excited about school than ever before!

Kelly Crespin has her BS in Elementary Education and a MS in Gifted and Talented Education. She now homeschools her daughters, writes test questions for standardized tests, and runs scrapbookinghomeschoolers, which is a Yahoo Groups list for those who enjoy both pursuits - scrapbooking and homeschooling.

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