Saturday, June 15, 2013

Smash Prayer Journals

Have you seen these Smash Journals that are popular right now?  (Or Smashed Book, or Junk Journals...)  Think scrapbook, diary, and doodle pad rolled in one with no set plan.  They are very cool and a neat project for teenagers.
 A friend of mine was cleaning some things out and gave me this "Tear It Up" journal to see if I could use it for something.  The pages in this book had directions like "spill your coffee on this page" and a place to glue tickets and other memories from trips.

 So, I thought why not take this Smash Journal idea and make it about a prayer experience for teens?  A place to smash things that reminded them of God, items that helped them to pray, and a place to write prayers, quotes, and Scripture.  I pictured something that would be fun to make without much of a plan, something that could be added to for years, and something that would foster a love for beauty and faith and communication with God. (There is a printable at the end of the post with prayer journal topic ideas.)

First I gathered some supplies:

Composition Notebooks- donated to me from a parent's left over supplies.  Score.
 I actually found some actual Smash Journal elements on major sale. Awesome.
Then I gathered some of the cool patterned and color duct/masking tape that they have out there these days.  Not cheap, but a bunch of the girls brought their own to share, so we ended up with lots of patterns.
Next I cleaned out those desk drawers, boxes, baskets, etc. that have those pretty holy cards, calendar pages, prayer booklets and religious pamphlets. This is a perfect reason to save all those free religious things you get in the mail-the ladies at church love to give me bags of them.  My office desk has never been so clean.
I also collected some random office supplies- another great opportunity to clean out.  Here I have some envelopes, file dividers for index cards, cardboard cards, etc.  You will also want to gather staplers, tape, glue, etc.  The office supplies below are from a stash I have been working on for the entire school year that were donated by my cousin after she did some office cleaning out.  (Do you sense a theme here of people giving me things that they want to be rid of?  At least you can see that I am putting them to good use!)
 Assemble supplies with assorted colored paper, stamps, pens, markers, scissors...
 ...books, calendars, magazines to cut up, etc.
Finally gather a group of teenage girls and get ready for some fun.  I did this activity with about 10 girls from my youth group, with rave responses.  I had explained it before what we were going to do, so several of the girls came armed with their own supplies, including boxes they had of their own mementos- cards from people, religious pictures, holy cards, etc.  They were able to include personal things from the start, just like the ones that they will be able to add in the future.

We worked on out journals for a few hours over the afternoon. Before we started, I talked with them a bit about the different ways to pray, and how sometimes journaling or writing prayers to God can help us focus.  It also can be nice to have a place with beautiful spiritual things, quotes, Scripture, etc.  That's what I wanted them to create- a tool to help foster prayer.  It also wasn't something to create in one afternoon.  It could be written in and added to for years.

Here is my final journal.  They all looked so different and unique to the girls' personalities.
 I added tabs to split the journal up.  (I know Smash=no organization, but I couldn't help myself.) I created them by stapling in index card dividers.  Some of my sections included prayers, journal, beautiful things, Saints, quotes, Scripture, etc.
 Here is one of the tabs stapled in and then decorated:
 Here is my inside cover:
 Smash stuff in:
 Make an envelope page, ready to tuck small notes, cards, etc. inside.
The girls loved this idea:
We delegated one section of the journal "colors."
On those pages, they just smashed pictures, quotes, etc. of that color.  My pages aren't quite done, but you can see the effect
 Some other ideas:

Use paint sample strips as a place to make a list:
 Make spaces where journaling can be "private" or set to open at a certain time.  One of the best things about journaling prayers is that we can look back at how God has answered them.  Yes, no, or something you don't expect.
 Lists are always a good way to send quick prayers heavenward:
 Make sure to throw in some favorite Bible Verses:
 Here's my pretty back cover:
 There is the general idea.  Of course there are thousands of variations, but here is a printable with some possible journal starters. They can be cut up and glued to pages in the notebook, or can be written in your own handwriting.

 I would love to know how people adapt this idea and make it their own, or how you use it with kids!


  1. Love this idea :-) now to start gathering supplies to make one!

    1. All I did was clean out drawers in my office, and I had enough! The benefits of being a pack rat, I guess :)

    2. You can also check your parish office or the entrances to the church. Parishioners are always dropping off holy cards, prayer cards, rosaries, and medals.

    3. Wow love love it :)I was trying to do something different this year with my kids thank you so much God bless you for sharing

  2. Wow! I'll have to share this idea with my catechists!

    1. Glad you like it Theresa! My youth group girls loved them, but I think that they could be adapted for all ages!

  3. Oh my I was planning on doing a retreat with my AHG girls and this idea is awesome for that. Now i cant wait to make mine to show them:)

    1. You will love just as much as they will, Michelle!

  4. Love the idea of the envelope page...

  5. Love this idea, am going to share it with my family and friends!

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  7. Planning for my youth group and shared with a Facebook group I belong to called "Drawing Kids to God Bible Journaling Group". This is so awesome!

  8. Planning for my youth group and shared with a Facebook group I belong to called "Drawing Kids to God Bible Journaling Group". This is so awesome!

    1. Great, Valerie! Thank for sharing it! I'd love to see your final projects!

  9. This is such a great idea! Thank you so much for posting the prompts!