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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Learning My Numbers 8 comments  
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how piece-a-cake albums can help you make great learning materials

Jake's at an age where he really should be learning his numbers. And not the I can count to 20 numbers. I'm talking about phone numbers, street address, and his birthday -- not to mention being able to tell people his full name and his parents' full names. I've periodically tried to talk to him about these various facts, and I've even been successful in getting him to repeat what I say.  But it never sticks. I'm pretty sure he just doesn't care.  (Bro has better things to do!)  And I think that maybe just hearing the numbers and words isn't going to help much.

When I stop to think about how I learn and how I retrieve information, I realize that I have to SEE something to remember it. When I need to remember a phone number I don't remember the individual numbers -- I visualize what it looks like on a piece of paper. And as for driving directions? If they're not written down, I am NOT going to get there. (Unless my destination is next to a Starbucks or Taco Bell. Those, I can find.)

I was thinking deeply about all this one week when Shabby Princess released some new piece-a-cake albums. I am IN LOVE with Shabby Princess' piece-a-cake albums. They're absolutely amazing. And while I was looking at the album using the "Wonderful" kit, I realized how I can teach Jake about the random facts his Kindy teacher will expect him to know in the fall.

Scrapbooks don't have to be just about pictures. They can be about words! And numbers! We can use the resources at our disposal to throw together any cool learning materials we need! We are, after all, crafty.

So out comes Photoshop and literally within half an hour, I have 9 pages done.  (Click here to see each page in the book.) Because with those piece-a-cake albums?  Yeah, I totally rock it.  I used one font for all the text, and simply varied the size of different lines.  This helps to keep the focus on the information I want Jake to learn -- he doesn't need extra distractions like varied, funky fonts. 


I had also just ordered some fun books and accordion albums from Oriental Trading Company -- they were sitting on my dining room floor (hey, I'm out of shelf space) just waiting to be turned into something cool.

The board book I decided to work with is 5x5, but I measured the pages carefully before ordering my prints.  Usually your prints won't be the exact dimensions of the physical product you'll be attaching them to -- for instance, the prints for my book needed to be 4.75x4.75 rather than 5x5.

Preparing the prints was easy: I created a new document, at 5x5 and 300 ppi. Then I opened all my album pages. First I put a black border around them since the pages have mostly a white background (it's next to impossible to trim pages with a white background correctly.) I made sure that black was my background color, then chose "Image > Canvas Size" and added .05 inches to each side. Then one by one I resized the pages ("Image > Image Resize") to 4.75x4.75 and dragged the smaller image onto the 5x5 canvas. After centering the image, I saved the image as a JPEG. Then I drug the next image over and deleted the previous one in the Layers Palette so I could use the 5x5 canvas over and over again.

I guess at this point I should state the obvious and tell you that I uploaded the pictures to and ordered them in a 5x5 size. allows you to include special instructions during ordering, so I made sure to tell them that the extra white space all around the images was intentional, and to please leave them intact.

When the prints arrived, I trimmed them with a paper cutter and used a corner rounder punch on each corner to make the pages a little more pretty. Then I decided to ink the edges of each page for contrast since the book I was using was also white.

Jake hasn't learned all the information in the book quite yet, but he does get a kick out of looking at it. And at this point, I'll take what I can get.

Posted by strangejen

Reader Comments ...
kellyshults . Odessa, Texas
5/21/07 6:58 pm
WHat a great idea, Jen! I love this!

5/20/07 11:24 pm
what a FABULOUS idea Jen!!! thanks for the inspiration! :)

sarahwhithers . Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
5/18/07 4:06 pm
This is such a great idea Jen! And the pages look amazing!

5/18/07 4:04 pm
Great Idea!

5/17/07 6:49 am
Great article!

5/16/07 2:38 pm
I LOVE that idea!

5/16/07 2:21 pm
Hi, Jen!!! Thanks for sharing this. Awesome article and will be looking it over very carefully! It's so cool!

5/16/07 1:21 pm
Wow Jen, this is an amazing article and mini book! thank you