The first time I saw a fellow homeschool mom’s school scrapbook I was completely intimidated. She was one of those homeschool moms who had it all together and I was still working on simple things like wiping spaghettios off my kitchen table before the kids put their school books back onto it after lunch.
So I didn’t attempt the school scrapbook feat right away. Instead, I threw my kids’ finished work, art projects, completed weekly school schedules, workbooks, and other school projects into a plastic bin that had drawers. Each child had a drawer with their name on it. When we went on field trips, I’d grab brochures for them and throw them into their drawers. If someone participated in a sport, I’d throw the certificate of participation into that kid’s drawer. Pictures of wacky science experiments and homeschool co-op events as well as piano lesson sheet music and DVDs of their choir concerts went in their drawers too.
It was a beautiful system. I simply threw everything in the kids’ drawers and forgot about it for the school year. (Think: school-themed junk drawers.) That I could handle. In late May, I decided I’d attempt one school scrapbook and let that experience determine if I’d do it again. I’m about as uncrafty as they come, but I was willing to try it once to gauge whether it was worth my time and energy.
Turns out I did it every May for seventeen years for each child. Everyone loved them! It was a great showpiece for the grandparents, a beautiful way to keep records for my own use (what year did Zac do xyz curriculum?) and in case we’d ever need them as a resource to demonstrate the kids’ academic progress. The kids enjoyed showing the books to friends and family, proud of their accomplishments, and through the years they would look back through them with nostalgia that warmed my heart.
Trust me, if I can do this, anyone can. So here’s how to make a school scrapbook:
Get a 1.5 to 2-inch 3-ring view binder, a package of tab-dividers (8), and plastic page protectors. Also have a trash bag near your work space.
Dump all the contents of your child’s school drawer onto the table.
Divide all that chaos into subject piles. For example: math workbooks and papers in one pile, language arts in another, science in another, and so on. I also had piles for “specials” (art, music, and PE).
Work on one subject pile at a time by selecting representative work from that subject. Whatever you don’t select gets thrown into the trash. For workbooks, tear the cover off the book and keep only some of your child’s sample work from throughout the year, throwing the rest of the workbook away.
Next, put your selections for that subject into plastic page protectors. Page protectors are magic! As soon as anything gets slid into one of these, it automatically looks official. The workbook cover gets put into a page protector and four to eight sample pages from the workbook have page protectors too.
Tape photos directly onto a piece of typing paper and label the photos on the paper. If you have a sports certificate, you could also stick the accompanying sports photo onto it before tucking it into a page protector.
Brochures, maps, award ribbons, show programs, tickets, and whatever else you deem school scrapbook-worthy can also get taped onto a piece of paper and slid into a page protector.
For each subject pile, label an index tab divider and put all the chosen contents of that subject into the 3-ring binder.
The first page of each subject is a typed overview of what curriculum was used and the main topics in that curriculum. Sometimes I photocopied the table of contents from a textbook and simply used that. Other times, I typed a book list of what the student read for that subject. For the high school years, I also briefly explained what the student’s grade was based on.
Your child’s school picture can go in the cover of the viewbinder for the scrapbook. You can add some themed scrapbook paper as a background or choose some other photos that depict your child’s interests or personality for that year. Included their name, grade, and school year on the cover too.
Type your child’s name and grade and slide it into the spine of the binder.
For several scrapbooks, I also included a page that listed that student’s favorites for the year: food, song, sayings, toys, friends, movies, etc.
Et voila! That’s it! It usually took me between 3-5 hours to complete one book. The kids knew this and expected it each year. I also had them help me with some of them so I could cut my time down when needed. (When the kids got to high school, I included all four years in one 2-inch binder and simply added to it each year. It was fun to set this out for their graduation party, along with some of their earlier scrapbooks.)
Every year of homeschooling, I’d get to the month of May and think, “Did my kids actually learn anything this year? Did we make any real progress?” And then I’d complete their scrapbooks and feel absolutely fantastic about our year of school. I’d leave them out for several days for everyone in the family to enjoy. Really, the secret sauce is the plastic page protectors. They make everything seem so valuable and pristine. If only I could have found some big enough for their bedrooms…