Memory Books

Now that school is officially over...officially as in even the post planning days have been completed.....I thought I'd share my tips and tricks for creating memory books with the least amount of pain possible.

This requires a degree of organization and mounting your hallway display on 8" x 11" paper before you put it in the hallway or on your bulletin board to display. I'm getting a little ahead of myself.

When I taught kindergarten, my paraprofessional or a volunteer would take the raw materials - photographs, student writing, and student artwork - and mount it on paper, add stickers, embellishments, and/or die cuts to "cutesify" it. This worked for a decade.

Then, I made the move to 2nd grade.  No paraprofessional and far fewer volunteers....time for a new plan! 

Step one in the plan: create a hanging file folder for each student. I number mine 1 through 20-whatever-the-total-number-is-this-year.
Found on of my favorite places to shop!

Secondly, you need to decide what picture you're going to take for each month and make sure you actually take the pictures. Yep. Pictures are majorly important and must be planned...especially when you have no parapro. I take a first day of school picture, field day picture, field trip picture, Thanksgiving lunch picture (family is's a B.I.G. deal), science experiments, book character / Halloween dress-up, etc.  You get the idea. You will need these at the end of the year, so you can wait to develop them all at the end if you'd like. Sometimes you can get a fantastic deal by developing a larger quantity at one time.
Thanksgiving Luncheon....parents and family are invited to eat with us.  I don't eat....I take photos!!

Step 3: Choose one published writing and accompanying artwork for each month of the school year. Again, you must plan this as you're thinking about the year/month's planning. I go ahead and mount both pieces to fit inside of a page protector before I hang them in the hall to display. This will save time and more importantly your sanity at the end of the me on this. I narrowly escaped with mine when I realized that the Halloween paper was not cut to size and 23 munchkins were all clamoring for my attention/paper cutting expertise at the.same.time.  No fun, people. No fun.
Adjectives and Self-Portraits

Step 4: When you change out your hallway/bulletin board display, go ahead and file that month's work in the hanging file folders you made in step one.  Keep them in chronological order throughout the year as this will be a H.U.G.E. help when the student's take over to add their personal touch to the project.
Thanksgiving "How To" Writing

Step 5: At the end of the year, we wrote about our favorite memories from second grade. We took it all the way through the writing process and this was the last page of the book. The students also illustrated four of the memories they wrote about in their paper.

Step 6: Request a 1" clear view binder and 10 top loading sheet protectors from each student. The page protectors can be bought at the Dollar Tree.

Step 7: Give each student his folder with the year's work inside.  Walk them through how to insert each piece in and the fact that you go front AND back.  Trust me when I say that you will need to model this A L.O.T.  If you can beg or borrow a paraprofessional, today is the day to do it!!!

Step 8:  When all of the pages have been inserted correctly, I allow the students to choose card stock (3-4 pieces) in the colors of their choice.  I also allow them to choose 5x7 pieces of card stock with patterns to mount photos.  Students lay out their pictures. Be sure to tell them everything has to fit on the page.....nothing can hang O.V.E.R.! Then they commence to gluing.

Step 9: I give students address sticky labels to write their captions for the pictures.  Make sure they write the label B.E.F.O.R.E. they attach it to the paper. That way if they mess up the caption, they just write a new harm done!

Step 10: This was my students' favorite step.  I lay out stickers galore, embellishments, die cuts, sticker letters, etc. and let them "bedazzle" the memory book. 

Step 2 or 11...your choice!:  I create the cover page for the memory book.  I choose the font and what it says, but I let the kidlets choose the font color and the paper design. I bought paper with a chevron border and one with polka dots this year from Michaels Craft Store. They were $2.99/pack with 25 sheets/pack.

The class started working on the memory writing 2 weeks before the end of the school year. We should have started earlier.  I suggest you start 3 weeks before the end of the year on the writing, and give yourself at least a week and a half for the students to assemble the books.  That way, you should have plenty of time to complete the project!  The memory books require some preplanning and work on your part, but the parents and the students really L.O.V.E. them!!  (And as a parent, I absolutely love having my sons' published writings and photos in one place!) This is a community "outreach" that will help build a positive perception of you within the parental community!

Do you have a fantastic way that you organize or tackle memory books? If so, I'd love for you to drop a note. I'm always looking for ways to simplify life!

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