Journaling Your Scrapbooks and Portfolios

I’m a big believer in keeping records.  I keep scrapbooks of our family happenings, photo journals of our family vacations, and of course, school portfolios of my kids’ work.  We love to look back and remember our best bits, cool trips, and the progress we’ve made in our learning.  For several years my books involved mostly pictures, but I’m always amazed (and a little saddened) by how little I remember once a few years have gone by.  Now I make sure to include journaling in our pages to tell the stories that go along with the pictures.  Here are some fun ways to bring your pictures to life using words:

  • Use the ABC’s.  We went to Zion’s National Park and then made a ABC photo book of our trip.  Each page was a new letter. 

ABC Journaling

  • Take a picture of the words and projects.  My kids often want to keep all of their school projects, but I’ve taught them that if we want to keep something, it’s best kept in a picture.  We take lots of pictures of the things we learn about, and then we keep the memory without keeping the item.  I didn’t want to keep this giant water cycle poster, but my kids worked hard on it, so we took a picture that makes the words, and their work, stay with us.


  • Forget about long drawn out stories.  Sometimes a few words can say it all.  We had an amazing trip to Mexico, and interspersed these pages with just a few favorite memories.

Short Journaling

  • Use favorite poems or quotes from books.  My mom took my sisters and I to Prince Edward Island, so naturally she made us this photo book of pictures and quotes from Anne of Green Gables:

Quote Journaling

  • Use guest journaling – have others share their thoughts and favorite memories.  My kids told me what to type as they recounted the story of sending Daddy on a treasure hunt around town for his birthday on this page:

Guest Journaling

  • Include a TOP TEN list.  I often ask my family what their top ten favorite things are about an event or a holiday.  I record their answers.  I love including things in “our own words.”
  • Record a funny conversation.  Every Cinco de Mayo we celebrate by making a Mexican feast and then having a tortilla toss.  We go into the yard and throw flour tortillas – the tortilla that goes furthest wins of course.  Well, several years ago on the SIXTH of May my daughter said longingly: “{Sigh}  The best days are Mexican days.”  She was fondly remembering the lovely time we had chucking tortillas across the yard the day before.  I about died laughing in the moment, but I wouldn’t remember it at all if I hadn’t written down in a little block quote on the scrapbook page.
  • Turn it into a storybook.  My mom created a spin-off Cinderella tale by dressing up all her grandkids.  One of their favorite things to do at our family reunions is play dress-up together, so this highlights them perfectly.

Storybook Journaling

It doesn’t matter how you do it exactly, but record all those tasty memories so you’ll have a record of all the GOOD that your family is.  There is plenty of bad and hardship in the world, but your scrapbook can be a log of the good and wonderful parts that are your family.  Write them down!  Hold on to all those awesome memories you’re creating!

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