Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Every Toddler Needs a Textbook

Way back in the last century when I was taking classes to become a teacher, I learned that a child loves to hear their own name.  Then earlier in this century when I was working on my Masters Degree, I learned that young children can learn things best by looking at pictures of themselves performing tasks...

On a side note (but not really) my sister in law has a huge family.  To teach her son all of his cousins, she made him a photo album with the photo and name of each cousin.

I combined these two ideas and came up with this:

The Big Book of Smiles

I was given a random photo album as a gift for my son's baby shower.  It kicked around in his closet for about 18 months before my sister in law asked for a picture for her book.  That request got me to thinking.  I could do something with that random album.  Making a cousins album wasn't necessary because my children didn't have enough cousins to fill up even 1/4 of that album.

I continued to think and decided to make an alphabet book.  Great!  an alphabet book.  Nope, it didn't fill enough pages.  Okay, the alphabet, numbers 1 - 20, colors, and shapes.  Still not full.  It was a big album!  Finally I decided upon the alphabet, numbers, colors, shapes, and opposites.  I needed 92 pictures to fill the album with eight extra pages of chapter titles and a table of contents.

Each page had a photo of my son doing something that matched the caption.  Each page used his name.  Then I decorated the album pages with coordinating stickers.  

Here is a page from the album I made for my son...

Alex loves to swim.  Swim begins with "S."   Alex points to his teeth.  Teeth begins with "T."

I called his book Alex's Big Book of Smiles.  He (and his sister) have loved it and loved it and loved it.  There has been so much love in fact that I have had to do a lot of taping and re-taping to repair all the love. 

My daughter kept asking when I was going to make a Big Book of Smiles for her.  I finally did.  In hindsight, I probably should have just bought a photo book instead of using an album and doing all of the work by hand, but it really turned out beautifully.  I may scan the pages of the books and get photo books made  that will be kept away from the love for posterity purposes.  We'll see...

Here is what you need to make your own Big Book of Smiles:

empty photo album with 100 pages, 92 photos, stickers

All this is great, but first you have to make a plan...
Go through mountains of photographs looking for just the right ones.
Yes, the box is filled with photos too! 
Make a list of all of the pages you will do in the book, and decide what your statements will be.  You will want to do this whether you are making a photo book or manually making an album like me.  

After going through that huge stack of pictures, I only had to stage 16 of the 92 total pictures.  There are a few reasons for this.  First, Chloe is nearly three so I have had a lot longer to take pictures of her.  And second, I always knew that I would be making this book so I took pictures along the way with this book in mind.  

Here is my scribbling as I decided on a picture and a statement for each page. 

I made a title page, a table of contents, and starting pages for each chapter on the computer.  I wanted the book to look and function like a real textbook.  I figure it is never too early to introduce the correct textbook form to my kiddos.  Also keep in mind what pages will face one another.  This is especially important when it comes to the opposites pages.  You want them to be in sets of two. 

After this, I got to work assembling the book.  This took a LONG time - much longer for this book than for the first.  It took bits of four days to finish everything.  I am sure that it was more difficult because with two kids who don't nap that want to sit on my lap all the time, I just had to work at a much slower pace.  It was all worth it though!

My messy kitchen table as I worked.  My daughter had just stepped away from her lunch.
 I made my own stickers for some of the items in the book.  I did the two digit numbers in fun fonts, color words in color, shape words, and the shapes themselves, as well as stickers of the opposite words.  I created a word document and then printed the document out on full sheet label paper.  I bought this package of label paper over 10 years ago when I began teaching.  I used it all the time and I am still finding uses for the few sheets I have left.  Every crafter should have a package of full sheet clear label paper!  It is one great gadget!

I LOVE full sheet label paper!!!
Here are some sample pages from Chloe's Big Book of Smiles.....

I used photos that had meaning for her, but I still used her name on every page. 

Notice the fun alphabet letters on each page.

Here you can see some of my homemade stickers. 

I didn't get a photo of an "opposites" page so here is a caption:

Chloe's hat is on.  (on the left page)  Chloe's hat is off.  On and off are opposite.  (on the right page)

The cover!

She loved her book once I finally finished it for her.  It had been a long four days.  I often heard throughout this process, "Are you done with my book of smiles?"  I was happy to finally say, "YES!"

She was so sweet to me when I gave it to her.  "Thank you for making this for me, Mama."  OOHHH!  You're welcome!!!
Seriously reading her Big Book of Smiles!

This is a great project for little ones.  My son still wants me to sit and look at his book with him.  I LOVE that!  

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