“Photos tell the story of your lives.”—Unknown
Here’s an idea for a Christmas or birthday gift, especially if you have young grandchildren: creating an Alphabet Book.
My friend Cynthia discovered that doing the ABC book was a great way to stay connected with her grandchildren who live in Arizona and those nearby. Not only does the ABC book help them learn the alphabet, but it has also been a real key for the out-of-town grandkids to get to know their relatives in Oklahoma.
Though it takes time, she enjoys the process and especially seeing how it builds relationships between her grandkids and the family. The goal isn’t to create an elaborate work of art but to chronicle the story of the children’s young lives so far and help them learn their ABC’s.
Here’s how she does it: Cynthia gets a cardboard photo box, labels it ABC, and when she takes pictures through the year, she puts the ones she might use in that box. At family gatherings or visits, she makes a point to take a picture of every family member with the grandchild.
When it’s time to start the book, she takes 27 pieces of white typing paper and spreads them out on the floor: A, B, C, D, E, F and so on to Z. Let’s say for Holden, she fills the page with pictures of this granddaughter with her aunties and other relatives whose names start with an A. She adds a picture of an apple (a favorite fruit) and other “A” things that Holden likes.
For B, she puts a picture of Uncle Barrett, a basketball, a balloon, and a bike. Under the pictures she writes whoever the person, event or activity is. H is the beginning letter of the family name—Huffmyer—so she puts a picture of the whole family.
N is for Nanny—that’s what the grandkids call her, so she includes pictures of things Holden and she do together—and a “night, night” photo with Holden in pajamas. The O page has Holden in an Oklahoma State University outfit and a University of Oklahoma cheerleader costume (the family colleges).
Q has a photo of Holden with a crown on, playing queen. The S page has a picture of Holden and Santa. The U page has a photo of Holden with an umbrella and a photo of her upside down. Y has a picture with Holden eating ice cream and “Yum, yum,” written below the photo. V has all kinds of vacation pictures. For Z, there’s a real zipper and photos of Holden at the zoo with animals she liked. You get the picture!
After all the pages have photos on them, she gets out colored backing sheets: polka dot pages, pink and girly backgrounds for the granddaughter’s books and blue, red, and green for the grandboys’ books.
Inside, the very first sheet she creates is a “Happy 2nd Birthday” sheet, complete with confetti, balloon stickers and pictures of the grandchild. Every page has its own colored backing and then the pictures arranged on it.
During the year, she collects stickers like butterflies or flower stickers for the girls, trains and fire engines stickers for the little guys. Each of the grandchildren has a favorite thing, an attachment to something—Tate loves Snoopy so she includes pictures of him with his stuffed Snoopy dog and Snoopy stickers. Lawson’s thing is Mickey Mouse so his stickers decorate some pages.
She attaches the photos with scrapbook adhesive squares or acid-free glue. Then she glues a three-inch tall alphabet letter on each page. Sometimes she cuts the picture out around their heads and put that on a square of backing paper.
When her grandkids receive their ABC album, they love looking at the pictures and having Nanny or their parents read it to them at home. It really helped them learn their alphabet and build letter recognition, but ultimately serves even a bigger purpose: to connect the child to their grandparents and the whole family, whether they live twenty minutes or a three-hour plane ride away.
If you want to do the ABC book, here’s what you’ll need:
First, keep your eyes open for the materials because often craft stores have half-price sales. You can also find this stuff at large discount stores and scrapbooking shops:
• white typing paper
• photographs of your grandchild with various family members and pets, plus all their activities
• stickers of things like balloons, animals, favorite cartoon characters, princesses or fire engines
• three-inch-tall bright colored, basic letters (like preschool teachers use)
• acid-free glue and/or scrapbook adhesive squares to secure photos
• photo-safe labeling pen