Thursday, May 23, 2013

art journaling with your toddler: guest post by Liz Lamoreux

Today I am excited and honored to share a guest post from fellow creative, mom and friend- Liz Lamoreux!

My daughter Ellie Jane is almost three and has been telling me for a while now that she wants to “art journal like Mama.” We have a big sketchbook that she uses for coloring and painting and a few small journals for stickers and drawing, but I know she really wanted a journal with photos and pockets and lots of washi tape like the journals I play in.

So I gathered some supplies and on Saturday evening told her that Sunday morning was going to be a special surprise playdate in the studio for us (talking about the next day is something we do each evening). Here’s a glimpse into our adventure that I hope will give you some ideas for art journaling with the kids in your life.

First, I had her flip through a couple of my journals. She talked about the photos and all the colors and was eager to get started. There was a lot of, “Now me! Now me please Mama!”

Next, I showed her everything we were going to play with:

   Photos of some of the adventures and everyday moments we’ve had in the last few months
   Washi tape
   Glue stick
   Tags (like these and these)
   And odds and ends like glassine bags and little envelopes

Ellie Jane was immediately ready to dive in with the crayons and stickers.

After a few minutes, I began to show her the photos, and this is where the unexpected magic happened.

With each photo, she would say a few words about what she remembered. “This was when we went out to breakfast with Daddy and I had chocolate milk!” “This was when we went on a walk around the neighborhood and found all the petals and flowers!”

I quickly started writing down her narration. Sometimes on a little tag and sometimes on the actual photo (with an American Crafts Slick Writer).

We talked about five or six photos (I’d printed about 15), and she was ready for washi tape, so we started taping them into the journal. She LOVES putting the washi tape down, and it has been fun to watch her go from creating a big pile of it on a piece of paper to recently realizing she can also use it to adhere things so they don’t fall off the paper. I still rip it for her, but she chooses the colors/patterns and where she wants to put them.

Next, she spent some time drawing on the tags. She wanted to write letters (which is a new thing) and wanted me to write down exactly what she had drawn. This was pretty fantastic as she said things like “This is two running around letters Bs.” Then we taped down the tags.

While she colored some more tags, I asked her to answer a few questions about her favorite things. We discovered that the Smash journal actually had a page of fill-in-the-blank favorites, so I just added what I’d come up with to that page. Our list included:

Favorite color
Favorite song
Favorite food
Favorite thing to do
Favorite stuffed animal
Favorite word
Best friend
Favorite adventure
Favorite toy

She started to focus on Mickey Mouse and the Disney Store as answers for favorite adventure, favorite thing to do, best friend, etc, so I look forward to asking these questions again in a few months (or even weeks) and noting the changes. I can imagine creating an entire small journal where I ask her these questions a few times a year while she is younger and then maybe yearly as she gets older.

She was really interested in adding pockets and places for “secret treasures.” So we added them with glue and washi tape on several pages. And we put the extra photos in a pocket in the front cover so we can look at them the next time we journal together.

We played with her journal for about 90 minutes and cycled through these activities a few times. I was pretty surprised that it kept her attention for that long, and I think having lots of options helped. And sometimes I directed her with the photo descriptions saying things like, “What do you remember about this day? What do you want to tell me about this photo?” These questions often led to funny answers like, “I love to throw rocks and I LOVE MAMA!”

These ideas can easily be adapted based on the age and interest of your child. For example:

   You might tape the pictures in the journal ahead of time and just ask for descriptions. If your child isn’t talking yet, you could write down some descriptors or leave space to add them later.
   Have your child draw pictures and insert captions so you will remember what they’ve created.
   You could turn the entire journal into a storybook that they illustrate and narrate.
   You could capture an entire trip or the summer in one journal. Take it with you on planes or to the park and have your child decorate pages and tape found items into the journal. Then you can add photos from that day or trip later.

Most importantly have fun! Being prepared with several activities really helped me remain patient because we could easily move onto something else when Ellie became distracted. And letting go of the control of the experience (aka remembering that this is her journal and not mine) helped me to just be really present and create space for her to simply enjoy creating.


About Liz Lamoreux: I’m a retreat host, jewelry artist, and the author of Inner Excavation: Explore Your Self Through Photography, Poetry, and Mixed Media. In this moment, you might find me dancing in my studio to Mumford and Sons, making muffins with my almost three-year-old daughter, writing a poem, or deeply enjoying the quiet found in a cup of tea. Connect with me at

In June, I’m teaching Water Your Toddler Mama Soul, a 10-day ecourse just for moms of toddlers that focuses on ways to tell our stories during these years where we have little time to ourselves. There will be daily photography prompts and self-care ideas that will help you reconnect with yourself in the midst of all that a day with a toddler (or two or three) brings, plus we'll be gathering in a private Facebook community that will continue after the course. Learn more and register here.


Unknown said...

some times its a pain in the ass to read what website owners wrote but this site is real user pleasant! .
A fascinating discussion is worth comment. I think that you need to write additional on this topic, it may possibly not be a taboo subject but typically individuals aren't enough to speak on such topics. To the next. Cheers
Cccam Server | Cardsharing | Cardsharing Server | Dreambox Cccam | Dreambox Cardsharing

jabbott said...

How cool this little girls journal,I can see you doing this soon with Lucy x

HollyM said...

I would have loved this when my kids were little. It'll be a treasure for her as she grows too.

kelly barton said...

i love how liz and ellie play together and soak up studio time. i have seen all of this first hand, staying at liz's during retreats. and as a mama of older pixies, it takes me back to those moments when we all sat and created together. of course i so wish washi tape had been in the picture!

Briana, MA said...

What a wonderful post! Nice work, Liz! Your daughter is a cutie, too!

Anonymous said...

This is such an inspiring post!
Thank you so much for sharing ,I cant wait to get creating with my nephew!
Thank you!

Christina said...

Oh, I love this! I do my own variation of this idea. I let my kids take turns having pages in my art journal to draw whatever they want. They think it's AWESOME to get to use my pens and journal, and I get to preserve a little piece of who they are right now. It ends up being a really cool family journal.

dawn said...

I loved reading this, so sweet seeing mom and daughter creating together. Thanks for sharing and giving us tips on how to start.

She did a great job!!

Breesmimi said...

Thank you for such a lovely post. I loved reading the comments on each photo and that you took the time to write them down. My grand daughters are 3.5 and 2, I look forward to making a journal with them. Thank you for the inspiration.

Becca said...

Looks like you had a lovely day together creating the journal and memories. Thanks for sharing

studioGypsy said...

thankyou! inspirational for me!! ordering those picture pens now! :)

princesa said...

Hello! I love your posts but I don´t have a fluente inglish and I can´t understand all! If you can put a translator in your blog!? Tanks for sharing ...

Anonymous said...

This is just beautiful! Thank you for sharing such a precious time.

Nissa said...

This is BRILLIANT!! This definately something that I can do when ever I have kids!! Love, love, LOVE this!!

scuba diving gear packages said...

Good job with the post!
Thank you so much for the share.

Today news said...

I love toddler , Since my childhood I am crazy about this


Related Posts with Thumbnails