Did you ever have to write one of those "What I Did on My Summer Vacation" essays when you went back to school in the fall? Not the most exciting assignment, especially when you're forced to use proper essay format, revealing the whole thing as little more than a thinly veiled method of getting kids back into the swing of academics. But it's funny how taking a school project out of school can magically make it fun.
This summer, how about transforming the usual Summer Vacation Essay into a Summer Vacation Illustrated Book?
So far in this series I've already covered some projects that rely on actually recording your actual children doing actual summer activities,, but here's a way to turn the task over to the kids themselves, letting them record their own experiences in words and pictures and, in effect, allowing them to shape their own memories of growing up.
Pull out their favorite art tools (crayons, colored pencils or pens,
markers, watercolors) and instead of having them just go to town drawing aliens or fairies or barn animals that shoot lasers from their eyes,
gently guide the project in the direction of What I Did Today (or This
Week). Ask them to draw their favorite rides from the trip to the amusement park. Ask
them to recreate a favorite meal from the weekend with the grandparents.
Have them draw a typical day at the pool. Have them draw the best new thing they
learned this summer (riding a bike, baiting a fishing hook, eating a
double popsicle without dripping, etc.). If your kids aren't into
drawing, you could do the project as a series of collages using cut up
magazines or even brochures from the hotel you stayed at on vacation. Once the pictures are complete, label each with a simple title and maybe a sentence or two of explanation if necessary.
As for how to collect everything into book format, there are lots of options:
- Draw directly into a blank journal
- Slide completed pages into a scrapbook or three-ring binder that has clear plastic sleeves
- Fold a stack of paper in half, staple the middles together, and let your kid decorate the cover
- Make an accordion book (here's a great tutorial from Carson at
- Older/craftier kids can learn to bind books with embroidery floss (here's Sarah Nielsen's tutorial for a simple pamphlet stitch)
What will your kids' illustrated books be like? Will they be focused on major events and special occasions or will they include pages about little things like their favorite thing to buy from the ice cream man? Will you create pages as a weekly family activity, or will this be the perfect diversion to keep the littles out of your hair every night while you're making dinner? (I love the idea of kids making one page each night before dinner and then everyone going around the table to share what their pictures are about--an exercise that's especially helpful if your child draws things that are never recognizable. Is that a house or a five-headed dragon?)
When your kids are very young, you're responsible for recording their memories (or, rather, your memories of their baby- and toddlerhoods). Once they're old enough to form coherent memories of their own, though, they're also old enough to hold a crayon or a gluestick, and therefore plenty old enough to start making some awesome illustrated books of their awesome summers.
My son is three and get frustrated when he can't make his drawings look perfect, so I think we'll go with the collage method for this year. What about you? How old are your kids and what will they use to make their illustrated books?