Shopping Cart
0 items
Helpful Sites

Scrapbooking as a Writing Tool

Scrapbooking as a Writing Tool

By: Cathy Scolnick


Scrapbooking is a wonderful way to build on your student's natural desire to write. For young children, the writing may consist of stamping out simple words they are familiar with; clipping and pasting favorite poems or sentiments; or handwritten titles, names and short sentences. Our goal is to develop enthusiasm for the project by having the child write about something they are personally involved in: their family history, their classmates, a field trip, a school activity. As the child's literacy grows, you can expand their writing tasks to include captioning, journal entries, expository writing, and poetry. An additional benefit will be the artistic eye the students develop as they learn how to select, crop, and mount pictures, layout the page, and provide related embellishment. When possible, larger scrapbook projects should be considered a co-curricular activity.

The current popularity of scrapbooking provides a wide range of materials available for archival-quality projects. Archival-quality means the materials are free of any properties that will cause photographs to deteriorate. Papers that are lingin-free with a pH level below seven will not cause your photos to yellow, crack, or stain. Polyvinyl chloride(PVC) is another culprit for destroying photos. Some photo albums have PVC's in the plastic coverings. Lastly, all adhesives and pens or markers should be acid-free. Although creative archival-quality results can be achieved for the following projects, most teachers will find purchasing the requisite archival-quality materials to be cost prohibitive. A list of recommended books and resources is included at the end of this section should you wish to pursue this format.


    Materials you will need:
  • photos or pictures cut from magazines/newspapers, or stamped images of your topic (farm animals, etc.)
  • rubber stamps
  • background papers in various colors
  • glue sticks or other adhesives
  • an assortment of find and broad-tipped markers
  • scissors
  • rulers

    Fun add-ons:

  • paper punches
  • decorative edge scissors
  • die cuts
  • decorative rulers and templates or cookie cutters
  • circle cutters
  • a color wheel
  • stickers
  • a book on fun lettering styles
  • access to a computer for fonts

Before you begin:

1. Select the project.
Group projects might include a class field trip, assembly, school social activity, sporting activity, class party, graduation, local event (record snowfall or other weather phenomenon, community centennial, new library, etc.), a "Class of 2011 Album," or holiday. With these projects all students can contribute to a collective scrapbook.

Thematic projects can be geared for the whole class or individualized. Thematic class projects might include: tracing the path of immigrants to the United States, exploring Native American cultures, favorite writers or artists, or a chronology of the development of the caterpillars in your butterfly garden. With these units each student makes his/her own project, but the presentation can range from photojournalism to a composite with research materials and/or memorabilia. Other ideas include family history, Prom, friends, summer vacation, scouting, first day of school, pets or favorite dinosaur.

2. Assemble the illustrations.
Be sure to notify students in advance if they should begin to find old photos or take new ones. For magazine photos, be sure to have a good supply ready. Work with the Learning Resources Center to download pictures from the net.

3. Assemble all the materials you will need so the project runs smoothly.

4. Decide on the Text.
Decide the writing scope of the project. does this project explore captioning, journal writing, reflective writing, reporting, poetry, or shape poems? For more creative writing, have the students provide a rough draft so they will be sure to allow enough space on the pages. Younger students can practice forming letters and writing appropriate sentences and captions. Don't forget to use the computer to print out creative fonts!


    5. Design Basics.
  • Using a color wheel, choose the complimentary or contrasting colored papers that will accompany your photos.
  • Decide on the focal point of the page. Arrange your photos to the eye flows from one to then next. Don't feel the need to use all the photos available. Select the few that best represent the intentions of the project. For example, if you are doing a chronological album, select pictures that best show the passage of time, whereas if you're doing an album on graduation, you'll need to select those photos that support the accompanying text.
  • If your book runs several pages, be sure to carry one or more thematic elements from page to page (this can include use of color, layout, borders, background papers, etc.).
  • Crop (cut) your photos into the desired shapes.
  • Add mats (layers of paper behind the photo) or frames (layers of paper surrounding the top of the photo). You can even have the photos layered between different sheets of mats (someone popping out from behind a tree).
  • Both cropping and matting will eliminate unnecessary background in your photos. You want to keep the interesting elements in and eliminate distracting background. If you are working with keepsake or heirloom photos you may want to make a color copy first and use the copy.
  • Be sure to leave space for your copy block, if there is one, and room for your banners or captions.
  • Work in added decorative elements with rubber stamps, punch-outs, borders, and stickers.
  • Have the students practice lettering techniques. You can download samples from computer programs or check out one of the many scrapbooks devoted to the subject.


Resources for Scrapbooking: There is an abundance of material on the market, these are just a few that I've enjoyed.

"Scrapbook Storytelling" by Joanna Campbell Slan, EFG, Inc. (This one is available through Reading, Writing & Rubber Stamps)
"The Complete Guide to Scrapbooking", "Scrapbooking for Kids", and
"Scrapbooking as a Writing Tool" by Jill Haglund, TweetyJill Publications
"Joy of Scrapbooking" by Lisa Bearnson and Gayle Humpherys, Leisure Arts, Inc.
"The 1999 Scrapbook Idea Book" from Porchswing Publications "The Ultimate Book of Memory Albums" from Leisure Arts, Inc. "Decorating Scrapbooks with Rubber Stamps" by Dee Gruenig


Since we're a small business we always encourage people to support their local mom & pop stores. We presently sell rubber stamps, stamp pads, markers, glue pens, and glitter. For more supplies check for store sites on the altavista site (above), in your local phone book, or ads in the local papers. You'll find supplies under rubber stamps stores or scrapbooking supplies. All the "big dogs" also carry at least a small assortment of products. You should be able to find basic items at Wal-Mart, Super-K, Target, etc., and whole sections devoted to scrapbooking at larger chain craft stores (Michaels, Hobby Lobby, Ben Franklin, JoAnn Crafts, etc.). Good luck!