Like many of you, I’ve kept busy puttering around the house during this pandemic. I’ve been cleaning and culling—and in the process, finding some projects I’d made for my kids when they were young. If you’re looking for some ideas for things to do with your children or grandchildren, they may serve as inspiration.

When my oldest son was a toddler, I bought a colorful school planner and kept track of his daily accomplishments. I used to jot down a couple of sentences of what he’d done each day. I didn’t have time to write a lot, but I could always manage something like, “got your booster shots today” or “had lunch at daycare – there were hot dogs and ice cream cones for your class,” or, “you watched the ‘Wee Sing’ video and sang along. Your favorite song is…” Days where I hadn’t written anything, I’d pasted in a colorful sticker. The result was a nice reminder of what he’d done over that year. Almost four decades later, the memories in this small book bring me joy.

This is a fun and inexpensive project for all ages. It can become a routine, where parent and child record the day’s highlights together.

I also found several three-ring photo albums—the inexpensive ones with the sticky sheets. I’d converted each album into a repository of photos, artwork, documents and letters by punching holes in large envelopes, attaching them to the rings and sandwiching them throughout the pages.

On the sticky pages, I affixed photos of me when I was little, as well as some of my drawings and report cards. I made lists of things I had liked at different stages of my childhood, kindergarten through high school. These included favorite colors, best friends, favorite books, movies and songs, and what things typically cost.

The attached envelopes were labeled by years or decades. The 1967 envelope included 12 monthly “memorandums” that my father had written to me and highlighted important personal and world events. I’d also included notes, birthday cards and school programs from that year.

Other envelopes were dated from each boy’s birth year forward and labeled “family newsletters” and “letters for/from the kids.” In those envelopes, I’d included my own memoranda to each boy, as well as their drawings, birthday cards and school certificates. I’d added their photos to the pages.

Each album was personalized and shared some identical elements—I’d made photocopies of my dad’s memoranda for both, divided up my original art and documents between the two albums and then added photos and notes specific to each son. The result? A compact time capsule of my childhood and theirs.

By including my report cards and then my sons’, we can see similarities in deportment, math ability and hobbies. Just last night, I read my teachers’ comments on some of the report cards, and I had flashback to being eight—or thirteen. I’m pleased to see that I turned out okay despite some of my teachers’ reservations!

My third-grade teacher had written, “Circe has too much self-confidence!” Now, I know where my second son gets his gift of gab. Every teacher from kindergarten through 8th grade remarked that I spent too much time socializing in class! (As did his.)

While overseas, I wrote letters to my parents, grandparents and in-laws. In Puerto Rico, I created a newsletter filled with clip art, “articles” and photos. They were photocopied and mailed out en masse. Luckily, my family saved everything so I had quite a few to share between albums.

When the boys marry and start their own families, I’ll pass the books along—until then, I’ll enjoy the trips down memory lane.

Since July is when the school supplies go on sale, now is a good time to pick up planners, markers, stickers and all the things needed to start your own memory projects. There are so many angles or themes to consider—Summers with Nana? Daddy and Me? Pandemic 2020? The Terrible Twos?

It’s a creative way to curate family history!