Anyone can tell you, I am not the scrapbooking type. I am a wait-til-the-last-minute-compile-the-kid’s-baby-book-just-before-her-fifth-birthday-for-her-birthday-circle-at-school type. But I do like the concept of a scrapbook. As a writer, I love journals. A scrapbook is really just a visual journal. Why not combine the concept of a travel journal with a scrapbook? Just make the kids do all the work.

A kids scrapbook is the perfect project to keep kids occupied. It adds an extra level to all their vacation experiences. Tell them as you are driving to your destination, or flying or walking or sitting in your apartment because it is too hot to go anywhere, tell them that together you are going to document your summer vacation. You will make a book together, and by that I mean, they will do all the collecting, gluing and dictating of descriptions and you will simply be the scribe.

The book can be something short and simple like a 50-cent black and white marbled composition notebook. The first step is for your kid to collect things from her trip, this can be very intentional or a total afterthought. It can be a clean napkin from her favorite ice cream stand or a pressed flower from the field she liked to bike by, or a take out menu from that lobster shack, or a fresh band aid in honor of the triple scrap (that’s three separate scrapes in the same place) on the path to the playground. Maybe she needs to bring home a small vial of sand from the beach, or a few pieces of sea glass. Of course, don’t feel limited by the two dimensions of the page. She can have a scrapbook box, which holds her collection. Or she can build a diorama or shrine to her summertime adventures. All her treasures can then be compile in her book (or box or shrine), either as she goes, or she can wait for a raining vacation day to get started. Or wait until you’re all home to help bring up and cement memories of her wonderful trip. And of course, once you’re home, you can get photos printed (like on paper, that you hold in your hand, weird, right?) and add those for some visual interest. Don’t forget to have her write (or dictate) captions for each item, be it a funny story or just the location it was found. Or incorporate her own drawings.

A small, but ongoing project like this can help kids with all sorts of skills (oh, the continuous battle against summer slide) like writing, reading, categorizing, geography (you can include a map of the area and chart your daily movements), math, spatial relations, fine motor, on and on. An ongoing project helps them make connections and draw conclusions, and builds their attention span. And basically, until they turn 12, every kid loves a project. Take advantage.

Moriarty Sarah HeadshotSarah Moriarty is a writer and editor. Sarah’s writing has appeared in such hallowed places as her blog, her mother’s email inbox, the backs of Value Pack envelopes and a waist-high stack of mole skin journals. In addition, Sarah has contributed to F’, and edited fiction for Lost Magazine.  A resident of Brooklyn for the last eleven years, Sarah lives with her husband, daughter and a dwindling population of cats. Check out more of Sarah’s work at

Photo Credit: Whitney Panetta, Look Between the Lines