Saturday, May 19, 2012

Accessible Scrapbooking Activity

We have been trying to create more Montessori based activities for Mom and we have noticed in a home care environment that it is hard to think of something new all the time. In fact, it is hard to even create one new activity a week. Also, we need some activities that anyone can do with Mom even if they are not familiar with the Montessori format.

So, I started my search for an activity that would fit the following criteria:
  1. Follows Montessori principles of being fairly self explanatory, has a template to follow, and accessible to the skills Mom still has.
  2.  Ongoing project that you could do multiple times a week but it not actually the same thing over and over again. Provides some variety.
  3. Anyone can pick this up and do the activity with Mom. Easy to understand and follow for all.
  4. Needs to be meaningful so Mom does not feel like she is just doing busywork. 
I am an avid scrapbooker and have been wanting to scrapbook with Mom her hundreds of photos but scrapbooking takes a lot of color coordination, cutting, pasting, writing, decorating, etc... and is really too complicated for Mom. However, I found a new scrapbooking style that is still pretty but much more simplified. It's called Project Life by Becky Higgins. Project Life is a simple scrapbooking system with coordinating journaling cards and patterned cards so you can just slip your photos and writing in the pockets and be done with your project. You can fit four 4x6 photos and four journaling blocks on each page. It was created to document your life week by week but as Becky says, you can use the system any way you want. So, I got the kit and set it up in a way that would work for Mom.

I labeled the elements of the kit with coordinating directions written out onto cards and put them into one of the pocketed page protectors so people can see exactly where everything goes.
Project Life adapted for use for a person with dementia.

Basically, you can take a few photos out of Mom's many boxes of pictures and set a few in front of her. You ask her what photo she would like to put in the album first and she can point to it. You can ask her what she knows about the photo or who is in it and write that on a journaling card. If she does not know, you just leave it blank. You then point to two of the photo pockets and ask "Would you like to put the photo here or here?" and Mom can choose where to put the photo. For the title on each page, you can take out two title pages and ask Mom which one she would like. Many of Mom's photos are 3x5 or 4x4 so I cut extra 4x6 colored cardstock so people can adhere the photo to a background, again giving Mom a choice of two colors and asking her to pick the one she likes the best. Sometimes Mom can figure out how to slip the photos and journaling into the pockets and sometimes she can't so we can put them in for her, but always give her the choice of where to put it.
Finished scrapbook page.

This is an activity that allows Mom to feel the feelings of the events in the photos even if she does not remember who is in them or what the picture is of. It gives her choice of where to put the photos and what colors to use in a simple way with a template of the pocket pages to follow. It is an ongoing activity since we have a ton of photos and it is repetitive but not the exact same thing each day. The directions are simple and color coded so anyone who comes over can do this activity with Mom.

I am very grateful to Becky Higgins for creating such a simple system that I could adapt for Mom who has dementia. This is a great meaningful activity for all of us to do together which will last for generations to come.


Rev. Katie


  1. what a great idea, so thoughtful!

  2. thats a great idea I have a document on my website
    that I have put together to help people with making memory books esp for people with dementia but not exclusively so!

  3. I wish I lived closer to my parents so I could do this with my dad. We made a photo board for him and he loves looking at it and talking about everyone in the photos. The project you're doing would be perfect for him!

  4. This is wonderful! God bless you for taking such good, thoughtful care of your Mom. I'm living with my Dad now, and he has always begged me to go through his boxes and boxes of slides. This would be a great way to do that. Thank you so much for the inspiration!

  5. Really interesting. I thought I should also share another with you. I am Founder of, which is also proving a valuable tool for families of dementia sufferers. It's a place to record the memories of your life in chronological order, in words and pictures, as a legacy for your children and beyond. Free to use, it may be of help to someone...

  6. Fabulous idea, thanks for sharing.


  7. As both a scrapbooker (although much less active one now) and dementia patient myself, I think this is a terrific idea on both counts. :)

  8. I just found your blog through Becky Higgins link - I've enjoyed reading some of your recent posts. Good luck to your family as you move through this journey.

  9. This is a brilliant use of Project Life. I found you through a link at Becky Higgins. I am definitely going to do this with my parents.

  10. What a lovely project. Brought a tear to my eye. I love how you're using this kit with your mum.

  11. It is wonderful that you have such dedication and motivation to keeping your mom active. I am an occupational therapist and have designed activity products that can be used at various stages of dementia and can be re-used. We also have a free monthly newsletter with activity ideas and how to grade to different levels. Learn more at www.