Sunday, March 27, 2011

Memories of Me: Strengthening Memory Skills Through Photo Books

One of baby bookworm’s favorite books isn’t one that we borrowed from the library or bought at a book store, or any store for that matter.  It’s one that I spent many, many hours making this past December as a Christmas gift for her.  The book is titled “The First Year” and contains pictures from her life in chronological order from birth through her first birthday (you’re saying, “duh” right about now I know).  I created a story that goes along with the pictures so that we can actually read it like a book, and this of course provides me with documentation of those first months of life (wow, baby bookworm said “dada” at 5 ½ months?) that I am sure to forget when I’m 50…..or 35…….or maybe even tomorrow. I know that thanks to infantile amnesia baby bookworm won’t remember going to the pumpkin patch, her first trip to the zoo, or her first birthday – so this book provides important autobiographical memories for her too.

If you don’t have a book similar to this one for your own baby bookworm, I definitely encourage you to make one.  I mean, you might as well put those millions of pictures you have of your baby to good and educational use (it truly is amazing how you can have SO MANY pictures of the same little face).  I created mine as a photo book through Kodak Gallery, but you could just as easily paste some photos on to construction paper, write a few captions or a more detailed story, and then staple the pages together.  And if you’re really crafty or artistic and have older children, I’m sure they would find it really fun to be a part of this art project. 

Aside from this being a fun book to read, it truly is very educational!  And probably more than you realize.  Discussing memories or events that have real meaning to your child will help him or her develop autobiographical memory, build and maintain their own memories of the past, and develop a sense of “self”.  Be sure to discuss what you see in the pictures with your baby bookworm, and really try to relive the experiences - be a “storyteller” so to speak (which also conveniently helps baby learn important language skills about how to structure their own narratives, and also expands vocabulary).

Here’s just a few other ideas about how to enhance your baby bookworm’s memory skills:    

  1. Remember those millions of videos that you’ve taken, in addition to those millions of pictures; well, pull them out & watch them!  These also provide valuable memory tools, help baby develop a sense of self by hearing and seeing him or herself in action, and help to sharpen language skills.
  2. You know those recordable books sold in Hallmark? Turns out they not only make a great gift but encourage all of the same skills mentioned in #1.  Not a bad use of $20 after all.
  3. Create flash cards with photos of important people in your child’s life.
  4. We all have photos displayed throughout our homes, but remember your baby is small!  Try to find a hidden wall space where you can display a few photos at baby’s eye level.  We have a photo collage in baby bookworm’s room.  I used clear contact paper to adhere the photos to the wall.  It seriously is one of baby bookworm’s favorite spots in the room.

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