Despite the rapid digitization of all things from books to photographs and everything that was ever printed, scrapbooking has made an interesting comeback in recent times. Initially, it began with a return to photo albums the way we once knew them in their classic form – photographic prints collated in a physical book-like album – perfect for thumbing through. And with it was the gradual return of scrapbooking. While it is true that all things digital are practically indestructible, the reason people are turning back to crafts like scrapbooking to preserve their memories are to 1) engage once again with the intimate art of handmade crafts which are increasingly being advocated as essential to countering the mind-numbing effects of ubiquitous screens, and 2) return to an old art of story-telling to preserve narratives about events in a manner that is personal.
Scrapbooks have immense potential to be a great learning tool. It is a creative format for an academic project presentation, giving each student a chance to explore a unique manner to present research, collated information and pictures and their individual learning.
A single scrapbook challenges many facets of a child’s mind, building basic skills that could go a long way in their academic life and sow the seeds for professional life too.
Resource gathering: research and collation of information is a great way to tickle curiosities and get children to think about things in a free-wheeling way that allows for random exploration, rather than in a guided and systematic way. This is enriching, and can keep them engaged for hours.
Presentation and information management: Once an idea has been cracked, information is gathered, it is time to begin work. Now comes the challenging part of figuring out the best way to present the information. This is a useful exercise in culling out crucial/vital bits of information from a larger resource and presenting it in an effective and eye-catching way.
Art and crafts: Scrapbooks are largely visual and therefore demand that children stretch their artistic skills, explore various mediums and find unique ways to put information together. This provides ample space for children to learn new forms of art, explore techniques in drawing, painting, collage or printmaking and add their own creative touch to the outcome.
Language: Since the essential aim of a scrapbook is to tell a story, language skills are also tested. From learning the basics of storytelling, to the nuances of managing a coherent flow to the information, developing a style that is intriguing and engaging, to really exploring a creative style and voice of one’s own, this is a terrific way to give children opportunities to tell personal stories.
Teamwork and leadership: When used as a tool for teamwork, scrapbooking is an ideal activity, that provides opportunities to learn to work with others. Since there’s many different aspects that could go into a project like this, responsibilities and resource gathering can be divided up and brought together to create an end product that speaks for the effort that has gone into its creation.
Apart from these, creating a piece of work with one’s own hands has immense emotional benefits. The process engages multiple senses, for one. Also, it inculcates stillness and mindfulness in the simple act of slowly working towards a finished product over time. A scrapbook is also a widely used counselling tool in art therapy, since it is a great reflection of how a child’s mind works.
As teachers, parents would be excellent to inculcate an interest in scrapbooking in pre-teens as a means to reflect on things learnt, delve deeper into areas of personal interest, or a way to collate and preserve memories about landmark events. It’s important to remember to focus on the process and encourage children to work steadily without the pressure to create a grand or pretty outcome.
There are a lot of avenues that can be explored once you open a scrapbook. Here are a few ideas for pre-teens to explore, either at school or in their free time:
- Quarterly theme for learning: this could be a scrapbook compiled over a quarter, pertaining to a central theme or topic that the child spends an entire quarter learning about
- Holiday/vacation memories: a holiday is an excellent opportunity to make a scrapbook that can always be revisited many, many years later
- A scrapbook about an important environmental issue
- A scrapbook about an inspiring personality
- A scrapbook to track one’s own performance in a specific area of interest: for children engaged in an activity such as a sport or art form or hobby consistently over time, a scrapbook could make a good weekly tracker where the child can trace interesting milestones, achievements, special days and the like. It could also be used to track academic or health goals, if any.