Watching your children learn to write is a proud journey for any parent. But along with all that pride comes something else… souvenirs. From the moment your children take pen to paper, the pangs begin. After all, how long can you expect to be getting love notes depicting you as a smiling baked potato on matchsticks? And will that scribble that reads "I love yu momy" be the last of its kind?

Rare is the parent who doesn't want to clip and snip and save tidbits of every precious stage of their child's development. But there are ways to do that other than collecting dusty shoeboxes full of papers, or scrapbooking your Saturdays away. One way to make use of those special memories is to wrangle up the kids and spend time together turning all those bits and pieces of their handiwork into bookmarks. Anything that emphasizes reading is a good thing when it comes to young kids, but bookmarks also have another benefit – they make great one-of-a-kind gifts.

So how do you figure out what to use, and what not to? First of all, don't dismiss anything. Chances are that if there is a scrap of paper haunting your house that you just can't bring yourself to throw away, it'll look good in a bookmark. Think in terms of your child's first concert tickets to the see The Wiggles, a valentine with a drawing of a wobbly heart, or a strip of penciled-in math problems snipped from a first grader's math test. Postcards from a favorite uncle, photos of your kitten, dried flowers or leaves collected on a picnic also work. So do bits of gift wrap, a favorite charm from a child's broken bracelet, a feather found on a cub scout hike, or pastel foil from favorite candy in an Easter basket. When it comes to bookmarks, anything goes. Even snippets of wallpaper will do.

Once you’ve collected your materials, you’ll need a few supplies. Essentials include a hole punch, plain glitter (not glitter glue), colorful markers, crayons or paint, strong embroidery thread, yarn or ribbon, a good clear quick-drying glue, and either a laminator or contact paper.


  1. Get in the habit of collecting bits and pieces of your family's memories in a box or ziplock bag so you have plenty of materials to work with.
  2. Be careful what you put through your laminator. Concert tickets will turn black with the heat so use contact paper. Glossy photos can develop spots, so scan them and print them on plain paper. Stay away from laminating thick card stock as it will cause air bubbles. Avoid glue in your laminator at all costs.
  3. Invest in a set of decorative edged scissors and paper punches to dress up your bookmarks.
  4. Glue a small square of cardboard to the back of your bookmark to hang it over pages or put braided yarn or embroidery thread through a hole punched at the top.
  5. You can ditch laminating entirely and create your bookmarks using wire strung with tiny beads. Try dangling a favorite charm from a discarded bracelet.

So start foraging through those old art projects and crumpled train tickets. No matter how you cut it, making your own bookmarks means helping memories last a whole lot longer.