Crafting Memories

With scrapbooks, young people learn to get creative with photos and keepsakes from vacations or favorite activities.

Focus On: Scrapbooks

August 29, 2004|By Kate Shatzkin | Kate Shatzkin,Sun Staff

When teachers pose the annual question "What did you do on your summer vacation?" this fall, students' answers may lie in colorful albums, personalized with photos and writing from front to back.

Armed with digital cameras, stickers and high- and low-tech craft materials, kids as young as 10 are starting to follow adults into scrapbooking, designing journals to document their experiences.

Whether they're recording a trip across the country or to the local pizza parlor, children and teenagers are showing more interest in an activity that had primarily been the province of mothers, says Laurie Spindler, owner of The Second Floor Scrapbook and Rubber Stamp Store in Eldersburg.

"This summer, we've seen more people between the ages of 7 and 16 than ever," she said.

"As the children see the parents do it, I think they see the value in it. It's something they can do together."

Disney trips are a popular theme, along with sports pages for boys and "friends" pages for girls, Spindler said. Teenage couples have been making scrapbooks of their relationships together.

The scrapbooking industry is booming, with $2.5 billion in annual sales last year -- almost double the amount in 2001, said Don Meyer, a spokesman for the Craft & Hobby Industry Association. While parents are still usually the ones to purchase materials -- making kids' use harder to track -- scrapbookers are definitely getting younger, he said.

Rachael Tellerman, 13, of Mount Washington, brought a digital camera on her cross-country trip with big sister Shanna this summer. She filled a simple blank journal with memories.

At first, her photos captured nothing more interesting than the interstate. But they turned into landscape shots of surprising sophistication by trip's end. And Rachael faithfully recorded the place and contents of every meal.

She pasted in a brochure from Graceland. She kept the room key from the Holiday Inn Express where the lady at the front desk described the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing. Her journal has a receipt from Yosemite National Park and a ticket stub from 13 Going on 30, the movie the sisters saw in San Francisco at journey's end.

Scrapbooks in school

Teachers also are encouraging their students to do scrapbook projects. When a group of Calvert School students were hosts for a group of Taiwanese children this summer, teacher Shannon Frederick had all of the students document their activities in scrapbooks.

The group spent two weeks together, going to Washington, D.C. and an Orioles game; making pizza and bowling; and petting farm animals. The teachers took digital photos, then printed them for the children to choose from. There were stickers, colorful paper and scissors that cut decorative edges. But the students were encouraged to find their own artifacts, whether they were postcards, brochures or something from nature.

Eight-year-old Kyning Tillinghast, one of the students from Taiwan, carried two leaves from Washington all the way back to Baltimore for her scrapbook, just because she thought they were pretty. Instead of using scrapbook stickers, she took the empty backings, with only the outlines of designs. When she attached the backings to plain sheets of paper, color filled in the blanks.

Michelle Olsson, 8, filled one page with a large picture of herself and a tiny chick. "It is so adorable," she wrote. "I wish I could keep it."

Alice Hsu's book had highlights ("Look, I have very high score," she wrote on a printout from the bowling trip) and lowlights. Of the baseball outing, she wrote: "It's a good game, but the rain is big and scarey." Next to that, the 10-year-old had drawn a frowning face with the words "I'm wet" in a cartoon-style balloon.

Everyday life book

Journals and scrapbooks don't have to be about unusual events. They can also capture the everyday.

R.J. Blakeney, 8, of Pasadena got interested in scrapbooks because his mother, Patty, is a Creative Memories consultant who sells scrapbook products. While he uses his mom's supplies, his designs are his own.

And the writing beside them, though brief and in a child's hand, speaks volumes.

Pictures with his father have labels like "Happy Life." There's a page captioned "COOL," with a star between the Os, that includes a snapshot R.J. took of the trophy wall in his room. There's a page called "Times I Didn't Like" that shows his bored expression while a family member took part in a duck-calling contest on the Eastern Shore.

And there's the picture that's likely his mother's favorite, taken one Easter Sunday. R.J., at age 5 or 6, is wearing a matching set of vest and pants; Patty a white suit, pumps and a hat. Underneath, above a row of cutout pink hearts, R.J. has written, simply: "Love."


How can you help your kids record big trips and everyday moments? Here are a few tips from scrapbooking experts, travel sites and families who "scrap" together:

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