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Storybooking is a new term for me.  The following article by Tricia Ashe is very interesting and quite informative.  She explains what storybooking is and a complete step by step how to guide to get started storybooking.  As a homeschooling mom of four, I am looking forward to incorporating storybooking in our curriculum to provide an enjoyable and fun learning experience for my girls!



Storybooking in Today’s Classroom


Making scrapbooks has been a recognized “quiet time” activity used with children for many generations. Over the past decade, an abundance of supplies and publications about scrapbooks have appeared. As more adults have become involved in scrapbooking, there has been a resurgence of interest in scrapbooking with children. Scrapbooks are being created by individuals and groups of students as part of assigned projects in more and more classrooms.  However, a new pastime has emerged…storybooking.  And it is taking the US by storm!


What is Storybooking?

Storybooking takes scrapbooking to a whole new level!  Storybooking is the art of creating a collection of stories, whether they are about friends or family or made up characters, and compiling them with pictures to create the perfect keepsake for family and friends.


Computer Scrapbooking and Storybooking

Digital scrapbooks and storybooks are sometimes referred to as “digi scrapping” or “e-storybooking”. This is the art of using graphics software to create layouts that display photographs and images of other items (scanned or digital pictures). When printed and bound the paper version of digital books may look much like those traditional books created manually.  One company that offers an online publishing system to create Computer Generated Storybooks is Heritage Makers. The system offered gives customers an internet based software system that allows you to upload photos to pre-templated storybooks and other projects. You then have space in your templates to write your own stories, preserve your heritage and memories in true printed, hard bound beautiful books. 


Combination Storybooking

Many teachers have students use a hybrid version of storybooks, with some pages or materials produced on the computer and some using the old “cut and paste” techniques. The contents of both manual and computer generated storybooks may come from the same place. Technologies now available to students are helpful in the gathering and reproduction of items determined appropriate for storybook projects. Using a digital camera, a scanner, a photo copier, or images from the web, the student can acquire an amazing assortment of materials to use. Even original items too bulky or valuable to be placed in a scrapbook can be reproduced and digitized, producing print or online images in a storybook.


Why use Storybook Projects

Beyond the fact that making storybooks is a proven activity which interests young people, teachers have discovered that in creating storybook projects students….

            can gain a sense of time perspective and history by collecting and preserving concrete images and materials.

            Practice organizational skills by the sorting process required in dealing with the multiple materials used in storybooking.

            can use visual images to express similarities and differences in areas where their language skills may not be as developed as their thinking skills.

            get experience in following directions through multi-phase projects which encourage involvement and creativity.

            With different interest and ability levels can work on the same project.


Storybooking Projects across the Curriculum

Educators assign storybooks in the different content areas for different purposes. 

            1. A storybook might be used as a simple repository from the research phase of a topic under study. The storybook then becomes a presentation format used for sharing student-gathered information.

            2. Many are familiar with the kindergarten teacher who has non-readers gather and present pictures from magazines to create their own version of an alphabet book.

            3. A high school teacher may have English students tap into the numerous online resources about Shakespearian plays to create a class digital storybook about the well-known characters.


This article describes even more ideas for use of storybook activities in different areas of the curriculum. This list of activities offers suggestions for more than thirty different projects in five subject areas for you to consider using with your students.


Even if you don’t want to actually do storybooks, some teachers may have their students expand their awareness of these primary source items by examining examples of old scrapbooks which were originally created by famous people. Clearly, storybooks are a recognized resource being used in today’s classrooms. When used as suggested, the storybooking process and products add much to the learning equation.


Exploring Scrapbooks of Famous People

There are primary source documents in the Library of Congress of which are of some famous people: Lewis Carol, Abraham Lincoln, Charles Todd, Emile Berliner, Orville and Wilbur Wright. The links below can be used for the teacher who wants to show such historical examples with their students:

            1. Lewis Carol’s Storybook includes poems, newspaper clippings, photographs, and drawings collected by the famous children’s author. 

            2. Abraham Lincoln’s storybook documents his debates with Senator Stephen Douglas during the campaign for the Illinois seat in the 1858 U.S. Senate. 

            3. Charles Todd’s storybook contains newspaper articles and photographs as well as telegrams, flyers, tickets in 1940 and 1941 about labor issues and life for migrant workers. 

            4. Emile Berliner is responsible for the development of the microphone, the flat recording disc and gramophone player. His storybook includes his inventions , public-health interests, and legal and family affairs. 

            5. Orville and Wilbur Wright kept scrapbooks containing newspaper and magazine articles, mostly relating to the Wrights' and other flights, as well as memorabilia such as cartoons, guest badges, and dinner programs.


Step by Step Process for Storybooking Activities

The following provides a “big picture” plan of a proven process for working through the different stages of developing storybooks in the classroom setting:

  1. Decide the focus:  Organize materials, using selected visuals and text to tell the story or report the information requested for the activity.
  2. Design how to arrange resources:  List or outline content to be included.  Plan the layout (blueprint for a storybook page layout). Identify supplies needed. Think of what additional decoration or embellishments wanted and where to get them.
  3. Develop (create) the storybook pages: Assemble items in designated work space. Clip, copy, digitize, or create graphics and images to be use. (If you are using an online publishing system like that offered at Heritage Makers, then organizing your content ahead of time will help you upload your photos and write your story more quickly and efficiently).  Come up with fitting title and place according to plan. Write and insert captions and descriptive text.
  4. Evaluate storybook when complete (Evaluation by creator or peers) Content storybooks should be evaluated against how well they meet the criteria of the assignment. Questions for evaluation should reference the content, the plan, and the quality of the ultimate product. If created as a group activity, questions about teamwork should be included.

Creating Scrapbooks or Storybooks

Helpful tips on making an electronic family storybook include:


            1. Make font styles and sizes easy to read from the rear of the room. 

            2. Create good contrast between background colors and text. 

            3. Illustrations, photos, and graphics should be understandable, appropriate and easy to read from the rear of the room. 

            4. The presentation should reflect clear organization and synchronization with narration. 

            5. Use audio and video excerpts as illustrative sources, not as narration. 

            6. Use creativity in design. Avoid clutter, unreadable text, and poor use of color combinations. 

            7. Buttons and arrows, if present, should be highly visible, clearly labeled and functional. Establish color contrast and use readable sizes and effective placement. 

            8. Place citations on slides in a section below graphics and other main text entries. 


Keep in mind, many online publishing systems like the system available at Heritage Makers take a lot of the work described above out of making a storybook.  The use of computers has made storybooking an easy project for anyone with a desire to discover, preserve and celebrate their heritage and memories for years to come.


Helpful tips on making a hard copy storybook include:  

            1. Clear organization should be present, using visuals and text to tell the story and answer the questions for investigation. 

            2. Make it personal. Your storybook is a lasting legacy created by you to pass down your memories and heritage to generations yet to come.  Make sure they know how much love you put into creating your book.


Click for a chart with many different ideas on how you too can create your own books for your classroom.  Creating a storybook not only gives your students the ability to stretch their creative writing skills, but also gives them an artistic outlet for creativity too.  And, designing your own book is such a rewarding experience for all!


Either way you decide to go, whether Scrapbooking or Storybooking, make it count!  The time and effort you put into creating your special book will create a book of memories that will be passed down from generation to generation and should become a cherished memento for your family and friends.  But most importantly, have fun!  Storybooking and Scrapbooking are all about having a great time while you design you books.  It is all about story!  And it is your story, so tell it with love!


Written by Tricia Ashe, Heritage Makers Certified Consultant



Recommended resources for storybooking:


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