The beginning of the year is so crazy busy and exciting, that we often don’t have time to plan ahead, let alone think about memory books! Then, when we start to make memory books at the end of the year, it can get a little difficult. . .
Students are asked to remember things that happened throughout the year and it can be like pulling teeth to get them to write about their memories. I mean, I have a hard time remembering what I went to Target for! There’s no way I would remember what happened months ago in detail.
So, what happens? Students just write a sentence or two to get the pages done and it’s not their best writing at all. You know what I’m talking about. We’ve all seen this kind of writing:
It was field day. I had fun.
It is so frustrating when you know a student can write so much better! Everything you taught them about writing, thrown out the window. Ugh!
Anyway, I have a better solution. Make a yearlong scrapbook! Kids will work on this little by little throughout the year and you will have all the pages ready to go so you don’t have to cram them in during the last and busiest month of the school year.
Plus, my FAVORITE thing about having a yearlong scrapbook is you can see how their writing progressed throughout the year. It’s actually a writing portfolio! Genius, right? I know!
Believe me, you’ll thank yourself later. But first, let me share some tips with you to help you create a stress-free writing portfolio for kindergarten and first grade.
Tips for an Easy Writing Portfolio for Kindergarten and First Grade
Take pictures of each student on the first day of school. If you’ve already had your first day, don’t worry. Try to take a picture as soon as you can and you can always mark it as the first week or month of school.
Don’t forget a class photo, too!
Grab this freebie so your students can complete their All About Me page at the beginning of the year and again at the end, so you can see how they’ve changed!
You can add a mix of images to this page. Have students draw or cut out pictures from a magazine to glue into the spaces!
Create a nice background for the first-day picture, as this will make a great cover photo for their memory books. When you get a new student, try to get their picture on their first day, in the same spot. Use this same spot for the last-day photos so you can see how much they’ve grown! I used my classroom library because it was always bright and colorful.
*Trick* Take a picture of just the background. If you have new students throughout the year but the background is no longer the same, use this website to remove the background of your student’s picture and superimpose it on your background picture!
I loved taking my pictures in my classroom library because it was my favorite place in the classroom.
Take lots of Photos (with help)
Don’t just wait for special events! Take pictures of your class working, snacking, reading, and doing things they do on a daily basis. In fact, make a checklist of your routines and try to get pictures of each item. This will give you options for the scrapbooks, plus you can use these for a slideshow at your Meet the Teacher Night, as well as your end-of-year slideshow.
Ask Parents For Help
When you do have special events, try to get pictures of each student. This can be hard with everything going on, so designate a parent photographer to help you! If you share a Google folder with them, they can even upload their pictures instead of emailing them all to you. Having them all in one place will help you choose the best ones to print.
Don’t limit your pictures to just students. Here are some more picture ideas:
- The stage during an assembly
- Class book
- Special Visitors
- Special area teachers
- Your classroom and class pet or mascot
- Your school building!
Plan for Accidental Omissions
It’s the worst when you go to print pictures and you’re missing a student! You don’t want that child to have a blank page, so here are some tips and options:
- Take pictures of groups. I always took pictures of each table, so I had at least one picture if I missed taking the individual photos. It will also save you time when inserting the pictures as well, since you can use the same picture for a group of students.
- Take one generic picture at each event. For example, on field day, take a picture of the entire field. Any picture that can be used by all students works great for this.
- Have a student draw their picture. It’s not the best scenario but it’s better than nothing!
Inserting the Pictures
If you’ve already printed out the scrapbook page you’ll use, just print out the pictures in the size you need and have kids glue them into their books.
It’s easiest to insert the pictures on the digital page before printing so there’s no sorting, cutting, or pasting involved. Simply use the digital scrapbook and go to File, Insert Image, and upload the saved photo. Then, resize or crop to make it fit.
Tips for Writing
Designate a time for completing scrapbook pages. I highly recommend you complete the first few ones together. Brainstorm a word bank and write those words on the board, then model with your own scrapbook page (displayed large on-screen, if possible).
After you model and kids work on these whole-group for their first few pages, you can assign them at different times of the day. My favorite was having them as morning work. I had them on student desks in the morning so kids knew it was the first thing to work on when they came in.
You can also have it as a writing center. Make a bank of words they are likely to use when writing about the event and display it on a stand at the center or laminate and place in the center drawer for them to reference.
Encourage risk-taking with spelling. As with any writing activity, encourage your students to write as much as they can. Remind them how they can stretch out unknown words and they can use strategies to help with spelling.
Have kids decorate the pages- After all, this is a scrapbook! Kids can draw squiggles, details, speech bubbles, etc. around their photos. I love how creative they can get and each student’s scrapbook is unique!
As tempting as it may be, please don’t correct the spelling of every single word. This will take forever and may crush the spirit of your little writers. Plus, it’s so cute to see their spelling attempts throughout the year!
Instead, write the correct spelling only for words that are hard to decipher. Write these words small and in pencil under their spelling, so they are able to read these pages later on.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t encourage correct spelling. Of course, you should ask your students to use spelling strategies to help them and to revise their work. But, keep in mind they are still learning to write, and these pages won’t be on display in the classroom so complete accuracy is not necessary.
Keep Pages Organized
This is super important so that you don’t have a pile of pages at the end of the year! Prepare a file folder for each student, if you don’t already have one. Insert a manila folder designated just for their scrapbook pages. As students complete each page, slip them behind the other pages in this folder, keeping them in date order. At the end of the year, all you have to do is take out a student’s folder and staple together. Easy peasy!
Keep track of student pages by jotting down the names of kids who were absent or didn’t finish onto a post-it note. Check names off as they complete the pages. This will avoid any empty folders at the end of the year!
At the end of the year, really talk up a PUBLISHING DAY! Hand out student folders and the scrapbook covers. They can color in their covers, read through their scrapbook, and add details or finish pages while you come around to staple the pages together. One year, I even used a bookbinder to make them extra fancy. This was time-consuming so I only did it that one year! lol
Creating a year-long scrapbook is a smart way to have a writing portfolio! Not only do you get to see your students’ progress throughout the year, but parents LOVE seeing pictures of their children throughout the year! Have an end-of-year celebration where kids sit and share their scrapbooks with their parents. What a great way to end the school year!
So what do you think? Will you try a yearlong scrapbook this year? I hope these tips will help make it easy to make a memory book your kids and their families will cherish!
Want an already done-for-you scrapbook with tons of pages to choose from?
Check out my Yearlong Scrapbook here!