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Scrapbooking Early Childhood Years

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From his or her first haircut to the first day of preschool, these early childhood years are full of wonderful experiences–both for you and your child. It’s a terrific time for a parent, and also a wonderful time to catch at a scrapbook.

Yet this point in your child’s life can appear to go by so quickly. Wondering how a busy parent could preserve these memories? From photo ideas to article tips, we have got a few parent-tested ideas to get you started!

Organizing Your Album
As with any scrapbook, you have a couple of choices for album organization. You might scrapbook your photos chronologically. This is ideal if your child is a toddler right now. If you are going straight back and scrapbooking early childhood photos of someone who’s old, you may choose for a “chapter” sequence, in which you group photos by section as opposed to chronological order. In cases like this, you could have a chapter for “Likes and Dislikes”, “Milestones” and “Events and Events”.

Whichever way you decide to go, here are a few ideas for topics to record:

Measuring Growth
A small child changes a lot from day to day–sometimes it can take you by surprise! A physical growth graph, recording changes in height and weight, makes a great “snapshot” of a child’s progress. You can also do this visually: Every month during her toddler years, I took photographs of Lauren holding her favorite Winnie the Pooh bear. Flipping through her album, I now see Lauren getting larger while Pooh seems to get smaller!
Every few months, I record a dialogue with Lauren, where I ask her to tell me her favorite items. As she grows, the conversation changes from only record her favorite foods and colors to more “grown up” subjects like best friends and favorite tales. You will be astonished at how some of the same things come up frequently–and how radically other things change!

Sometimes it is the smallest landmarks which capture the heart of childhood. Paper from Girls Baby & Toddler Pages.
Milestones

Make certain to record those milestone events in your kid’s life: First haircut, first tooth, first visit to the pumpkin patch, first time visiting the shore or snow. Lauren’s first visit to the dentist was a landmark for her–not just the visit itself, but the way she told the dentist and me that she really wanted braces. For her, they were the ultimate “big woman” item to get!

Some of your child’s “first” moments will even reveal something about you personally. I scrapbooked photos of Lauren to document her first pigtails…the moment when she finally had enough hair!

Occasions & Events
Christmas, birthdays and other annual events are pretty important to a little child–and a child’s response and anticipation to those events make for fun scrapbook pages. Take photos of gifts, food, and party guests…and make sure you record the kid’s Christmas or birthday party theme wants for each event.

As opposed to mailing it off to the North Pole, Lauren puts her list (that she orders to me) in “Santa’s Mailbox”–a metal mailbox that hangs out of our tree. One day, the correspondence is magically gone…and I get to keep it. Looking back over past lists is so fun and really captures Lauren’s changing character.

Do not forget to include pictures and journaling that represent your family’s customs for all these events and occasions. How did you describe them to a child, and what was his or her response?
There are so many preparations that go into this momentous day…for the kid and the parents! Record these pre school preparations: Shopping for new clothes, choosing out the lunch box, new shoes, and school supplies. Do not forget to write down how you and your spouse felt through these training–excited, wistful, just plain teary. Take photographs of this college, your child’s teacher, and your child in that “first day of school” outfit.

Any child heading off to school will soon begin bringing home those pieces of art and schoolwork. Save samples of their handwriting to watch as it progresses. When there’s no more room in the fridge for all those newspapers, you are able to scan them all and load them onto a CD to store on your record, or simply reduce them on a color copier and scrapbook them separately.
Recording Sound
High tech offers you more and more ways to preserve your memories. Try recording your child singing a few of his or her favorite songs. A toddler or preschooler will soon grow out of that childlike willingness to sing for you. Document conversations between the both of you, or involving the child and your spouse, relative or friend. Don’t be worried about the subject of the dialogue…just try to capture the child’s vocabulary, voice, and infections.

Each Christmas I record Lauren’s Christmas Special. I put in a blank tape, then give her the microphone and let her move for five minutes. She sings songs, tells jokes and basically hams it up. (I act as emcee and provide her the cue when it’s time to wrap up.) Every year’s special is on exactly the exact same cassette, so we are able to hear “Lauren’s Third Christmas Special” when she didn’t really know all the words to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and compare it with her own fifth Christmas Special when she added her own flair to the song. (I also send copies of this to Grandma, who thinks they’re the most valuable thing on the planet.)
Not every scrapbook page has to present a significant milestone–a few of the sweetest pages are the ones which capture the child in his or her own world. My co-worker Susan recalls the way her daughter would concentrate so much while enjoying that she would breathe very heavily. Small things like this really catch the sweetness of a small child.
Toys
Every child has a favorite toy…that tattered bear or cherished doll which appears to accompany your child everywhere. What is the story behind this toy? Was it a present, and from whom? Does it have a special name? Has this toy had some experiences of its own–is lost, for instance? How often have you needed to repair it or ship it via the wash? A very simple picture of your kid and the toy, plus some actual journaling, will tell the story for generations to come.
Your child’s vocabulary will expand so much in this time–be certain to record what they state in their own language. Like most toddlers, my daughter devised a lot of her own words, together with special words for certain individuals, things, and places. It seems every child has their own sentence for a specific blanket, a grandparent, or even a favorite toy. Record those distinctive words–and their translations–in journaling that lists “according to…”.

Personality traits really come to light during those early childhood years. Is your child silent and thoughtful or gregarious and outgoing? Who does he or she resemble in the household? Remember, what’s fresh to a toddler and little child…how does yours respond to those new items? Some matters will be funny and some scary–yet it seems everything is pretty surprising! And what is your expertise, seeing these regular things through a child’s eyes?
Your toddler or preschooler will even start expressing a unique character with more separate speech. When Lauren first detected jokes, she’d repeat the same one over and over and simply crack herself up. Pretty soon she was making up her own jokes–and repeating all those over and above!
Simple lists are a great way to record a child’s changing character.
When you are busy chasing a three-year-old around the home, it might seem difficult to find time to scrapbook or journal. Yet every parent will tell you, those little moments can slide away so quickly–and can be forgotten.

1 way to keep an eye on your child’s progress is to maintain a Parent’s Journal. You might write down a list of things on the computer, and either log them there or print out pages and keep them in a binder or notebook. I recommend adding to the list about once each week. It doesn’t have to be time-consuming, simply capturing the highlights of this week. Some things to record:

– favorite food
– favorite outfit
– favorite story
– favorite game
– favorite toy
– the span of nap time
– play dates (with whom, for how long, in which)
– the activity of this week
– expression of this week
– elevation and weight
– clothing size

If keeping a Parent’s Journal becomes a bit overwhelming, you can even write notes down to a normal calendar. That way you have the date and the data in one spot.
I enjoy experimenting with various forms of the movie and went through both a black-and-white and sepia stage. If you get a digital camera, I encourage you to experiment when printing your photos. Try out a black or sepia print and see what you believe. The look is timeless and somehow can magically turn the most ordinary photos into gorgeous works of art. If you are not digital, simply pick up a roster of the black-and-white movie and give it a try.
Scrapbooking these web pages is an enjoyable (and occasionally necessary) method to remember those little details that can so easily be forgotten. I am still amazed at how easy it is to please Lauren today that she’s five and a half, in comparison to when she was two years old and only ate about seven distinct foods. Whether you capture these memories on your family’s main album or dedicate a whole book to your child’s early years, then I think you’ll find it turns into a pretty cherished keepsake in the years to come!

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