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Picture Perfect
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Picture Perfect

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, but a photo of your family on vacation, where everyone is actually smiling at the same time—well, that’s worth a lot more. Give the kids a fun activity on your next trip and teach them about the basics of photography. Not only will they be entertained by a new hobby, but they may surprise you with beautiful photos, taken through the eyes of a child. Once you’re home, print your photos and then gather some recipes and make a family cookbook using our simple instructions. The book will capture vacation fun and preserve family recipes and memories.


If you have a digital camera, teach the kids about the settings as well as proper care tips (like always keeping it away from water or strong magnets). If you’re not comfortable letting your kids use the family camera, many basic, durable, “kid-tested” cameras are made for users as young as preschoolers.

Once kids have learned the rules, let them experiment. Digital cameras let them instantly see results and alter angles or perspectives until they have the shot they want. With a little practice, your children will soon be enjoying the fun of photography. Here are some basic photography tips to keep in mind:

  • Get down…to the level of your subject. If you’re taking a photo of a frog or a flower, crouch down to get more of the object in the frame.
  • Know the light. Always be aware of where the sun is, or where the light is coming from. It’s generally a good rule to shoot with the sun behind you.
  • Keep the horizon level. It’s a simple idea, but even adults struggle with off-kilter trees ruining a photo.
  • Move in closer. After you take a photo, try it again from a closer angle. You’ll have more of your desired subject in the shot.
  • Check the background. Sometimes you don’t realize what’s going on behind the person or object in focus. Keep the background simple, and there won’t be any distractions in your photo.
  • Pack a tripod. Portable tripods are reasonably priced and will make a world of difference, whether you’re taking a picture of a nature scene or a group of people.
  • Try the rule of thirds. Use this basic rule for the slightly more advanced budding photographer. Imagine splitting your frame into thirds horizontally and vertically. Place the focal point of your photo where these imaginary lines intersect. The idea is that photos that are off-centre are more eye-catching.
  • Play. Be spontaneous. Try a mid-air jumping photo at the beach or pool. Candid shots of the family laughing or eating new foods are always fun to look at later. Use the self-timer to get the whole family in a shot, and at the last minute have everyone put on their goofiest face.


A great hands-on project for kids of any age, a family cookbook can be tailored to fit families of all sizes. An Internet search will bring up dozens of sites that will take your recipes and make a book for you, but the fun of having a family cookbook is being able to say that you put it together yourself. And with the kids involved, they’ll be encouraged to remember not only Thanksgiving dinner, but Tuesday night barbecues and rolling out dough for pizza Fridays.

Whether it is a handwritten card with great-grandma’s apple pie or a printout of Mini Taco Bowl any recipe can be a part of your family’s book. The choice is up to you and the kids!

Before you start, you do need some tech supplies to make assembly possible:

  • Computer and printer
  • 3-ring binder with plastic sleeve inserts
  • Recipes and photos (anything from homemade recipes to pics of your kids cooking, family dinners, holiday tables)
  • Family quotes, tips and tricks
  • Kitchen and/or cooking clip art
  • Family photo for the cover

Now the fun can begin!

  • Start by opening a recipe in a word processing program.
  • Open a photo that coordinates with the recipe and add it to the page.
  • Play around with different fonts, picture sizes and positioning to make the book visually appealing.
  • Add clip art for more decorative pages.
  • Divide the recipes into categories (breakfast, appetizers, desserts, etc.) to make finding them easier.
  • Look to other cookbooks for inspiration. Make a tips page at the beginning of a category to coordinate with the recipes that follow.
  • Ask your kids to draw their favourite foods or meals and add the pictures to the cookbook as category dividers.
  • Don’t forget to save the pages so you don’t lose all your hard work!
  • When you are finished creating the pages of your cookbook, print and slip each one into a plastic sleeve to keep it clean (and easy to wipe down when cooking).
  • Name your cookbook and add a family photo to decorate the front cover.

The best part about making this cookbook in a binder is that it grows right along with your family and recipe collection.

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