Make-and-Learn-Crafts: Lasting Summer Memories in a Shadow Box

Filed under: Activities: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Activities: Big Kids, Activities: Tweens, Activities: Family Time, Family Time

Lasting Summer Memories in a Shadow Box

Turn summer vacation memories into a hanging scrapbook page for all to see and enjoy. Credit: Gina Provenzano

When vacation euphoria is over and all that remains is sand embedded in the car seats and layers of mud caked in sneakers, stop and take stock. Pull out the photos, mementos and tchotchkes from your summer adventures and help your child create a lasting memory to hang and treasure.

A shadow box or collectible case is a wonderful way to "scrapbook" a memory -- and keep it from remaining hidden in a book. And, besides getting kids to recount a summer trip, it's a great way to relive the memories together as a family. So grab the photos and mementos and get to work.

What You'll Need:

  • Shadow box or collectible case frame (this one is 12 inches by 12 inches)
  • Vacation photos
  • Construction paper or decorative paper in desired colors
  • Small mementos from your trip (a fishing lure, seashells, ticket stubs, ID bracelets)
  • Craft store painted wooden shapes (in the theme of your vacation)
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Scissors; straight edge and decorative edge
  • Tacky white glue
  • Double-sided tape
  • Adhesive-backed foam letters (about 3/4 inch tall)


1. Using a ruler and pencil, lightly mark trim lines on images to crop for appropriate size. Vary the sizes from larger (4 inches by 6 inches) to smaller (2.5 inches by 1.5 inches). Do not use too many photos or the frame will look cluttered. Trim with straight-edge scissors.

2. Next, open the frame by opening a hinged front or by removing the back from the frame. If the backing is not covered, choose a decorative paper to apply to the entire back surface. Adhere with double-sided tape. Tip: Solid colors or simple patterns such as water, trees or a skyline will work best.

3. Arrange photos and mementos on the back surface to get an idea of layout. Next, one by one, remove photos and choose paper colors to use as frames. Measure each photo and then add 1/2 inch to height and width. Measure your chosen paper to this new size and then cut out the shape using decorative-edge scissors. Use double-sided tape to adhere your photo to the center of the rectangle. If desired, make a second, larger frame in a tonal or contrasting color. This time, add 1 inch to the photo measurement and cut the rectangle with straight-edge scissors. Do not tape until placement is set.

4. Arrange all backed photos, frames and mementos on the back surface. Try angling the photos or the paper frames to create interest. When the desired arrangement is found, tape or glue in place. Use glue on bulkier items such as shells and other three-dimensional items. Allow all glue to dry before moving the back surface.

5. Spell out a phrase, destination or other vacation memory with adhesive-backed letters. Arrange on the back surface, remove adhesive backing and adhere in place.

6. Replace back surface or close case and hang on wall.

Related: Teddy Bear Needs a Vacation? Send Him on a Luxury Trip, While You Stay at Home


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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.