Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Picaboo Yearbooks - A TOS Homeschool Crew Review


Have you heard about Picaboo Yearbooks? I just learned about them this year, AND I got to receive a 20 Page Softcover Yearbook for free so that I could do a review. Now you get to learn about Picaboo Yearbooks from me, personally, and you can go check them out at their page!
I have three "children". (Why the quotes?
Two of them are adults.) My children have all been home schooled. One child had one year that she attended private school. That means that in the past 21 years, only one child had the option of ordering a school yearbook. (And I think she did, but it was 6 years ago and I just don't remember.)

So, when my first two students were students, we kept our own photographs. The technology was at the 35mm stage, and photos were costly, so they were kept to a minimum. We kept them in a photo album, one with plastic sleeves. (Notice the retro duct tape.)
We don't have many photos from our first seven years of marriage, but our photos started in earnest when our first child was born.
We added another child, and ten years later another child. We eventually got up to three photo albums.

That, and the boxes of unfiled photos, and the scrap booking materials that boatloads of money was spent on with the best of intentions, but the scrap booking hasn't happened...

And, my poor third child... He was born at a maternity center, so no hospital photos. My brother took newborn photos the day he was born, but I have no idea where they are. He gave me the negatives, but I misplaced them. There is no newborn photo sized 8"x10" to hang on the wall..

And what's worse is that the last photo album only has photos of him up to about his 2nd birthday.


Not even up to his 2nd birthday. No birthday photos. Then the album looks like this:
Empty pages. Why? Two reasons. 1) We got a new digital camera, and 2) we seldom print out photos from our digital camera. How sad is that?

As we walked our way through 7th grade this past year, I didn't know I was going to be doing a school yearbook at the end of the year, the way a formal school does. In schools, since they know the yearbook is coming there is someone taking pictures all year long, working hard to make sure there are lots of good shots to bring back memories of the year.

Okay, we home schoolers are supposed to be doing that too, but I just wasn't prepared. I was amazed at how difficult it would be to fill 20 pages with photos of our school year, just one child and all that. And did my son want to help me? Nah.

My son is a Boy Scout, with his eyes set on Eagle, so I decided to give the exterior of the book a Boy Scout Theme.
Front:                                                  Back:
Since this was his first yearbook, I decided I would begin with a page of his pets...  
and family photos from his early years.



Next I did a section of his early school years. Now, I am remembering that every year I took a photo of him at the front door on the first day of school, and this album was exactly when I wanted to just show the progression from year to year... But I could not find them all. ::sigh:: Probably in storage in some hard drive somewhere...
Then we got into the current school year. Now, I can see I didn't do this perfectly... There are pictures above from the current school year, but I guess I had decided they were family photos and not school related...

Since I didn't have a lot of school-related photos that I wanted to use, and since Boy Scouts was a big part of his year, I next did a section on his Boy Scouts activities. The first page was his Cub Scout photos, and then came Boy Scout photos from the current year.

Another thing that has been a constant this past year, and throughout his life, has been 4-H. So I did a page on 4-H and his County Fair activities.
In May we took a trip to Arizona, stopping in Denver, so the last section of our book was photos from that trip.

Doing this type of computer scrap booking is entirely new to me, so considering that fact I was quite pleased with the job I did. Now that I can see it, solid, in front of me, there are things I would have/could have done differently, like putting the section name right on the page, and putting a yearbook title on the front cover at the bottom, below the picture.

Being new to this type of activity, there were things Picaboo can do that I didn't attempt just yet because I wasn't prepared to, such as:
  • I could have allow 3rd parties to contribute. In other words, I could have contacted Boy Scout leaders, Nana and Pop Pop, aunts and uncles, friends and 4-H Leaders and asked them, via the Internet app, to contribute photos and text.
  • I could have added video to the yearbook. This part is so beyond my ability to wrap my brain around it... You insert a video, which appears as a little box with a dotted code. Anyone with a smart phone hovers over that app, pushes a button telling their phone to play the video, and they get to watch it! I did attempt this for this yearbook. The only videos I think I have on my computer of JD are for product reviews we have done.
  • I could have assigned different tasks to different people in the compiling of the yearbook.
  • I could have created .pdf files to export and send to people for them to look over and comment on for revision.
  • I could have set up a store front and let friends and family go and buy their own copies. We have not done this because: 1) its content is too personal for us to want friends to buy copies, and 2) we will probably order our own copies for family to give for Christmas presents.  The really cool thing is... Those things that I saw that I would do differently? I can go in now and do them differently before I order the copies I will give as gifts!
  • If you are using Picaboo Yearbooks for a larger group, be it large family, co-op, private school, public school or charter school, there is a Program Manager that helps you import and format student photos by grade and teacher, to make your life easier.
If I had not been offered this review, I don't think I would have tried Picaboo Yearbooks. Now that I've used Picaboo Yearbooks, I think I might just want to do a year book every year! This was JD's 7th Grade Yearbook. That's the first year I had a yearbook, way back when. When I was in 7th Grade, it was part of Jr. High (not middle school), and was the first year yearbooks were issued. For grades 8-12 he can continue to have annual yearbooks, just like I did (and just like his public school friends do). 

I can be more intentional as the year goes by this year. I can start the yearbook in August and build it all year long! I can use two pages per month, if I want to. The sky is the limit! I can keep the cover theme the same, changing the background color each year, or I can change it up entirely. The sky's the limit!

At two different times I decided I needed assistance with the process. The first time I phoned. I'm not sure how I had messed the program up, but somehow even though the program said I could order it would not let me order. The company remedied the situation within hours, and followed up with a confirmation email with some very helpful links, and also my yearbook order was able to now go through. The second instance I wanted to ask some questions for clarification before I wrote my review. I used the "Chat" function, and someone was immediately there and very helpful. At the end of the chat I left the window open so my answers would not disappear (and then I wouldn't remember them), but I found in my inbox a transcript of our chat with all my needed answers in it. How cool!

Picaboo Yearbooks 20 Page Softcover Yearbook 8-1/2" X 11" size starts at a price of $8.59. There is an $0.22 additional fee for each additional page. You can also choose to publish the yearbook in hardback for $18.99. If you are selling this for a school or group, you can set the price in your store to be higher so that your organization can get a profit from the yearbook. Orders of 50 books or more qualify for free ground shipping!

Picaboo Yearbooks also has a "sister site" which is a scrapbooking site you can also look at.

You can actually watch the entire user manual video and look into more information about every aspect of Picaboo Yearbooks before you decide to buy.

So, in summary:
  • Picaboo Yearbooks 20 Page Softcover Yearbook 8-1/2" X 11" size starts at a price of $8.59;
  • Picaboo Yearbooks is amazing! I love it!
  • My son, who wouldn't help, was immediately willing to tell me what he wished I had done differently, once we had our copy in our hands. ::sigh::
  • This product applies to all grade levels. 
I highly recommend this company and this product. I hope you will give them a try. If you do, it would be really nice for me to know you did so a comment below would be very helpful. Thanks. 

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