Kids love doodling! We all know that. They write on whatever surface they see – scrap paper, book covers and even the walls of our house if we’re not diligent! If your kids are very fond of writing or drawing, here’s a nice idea to give or better yet make with them: journals made from recycled materials.
Buying the kids new notebooks is easy, but creating one makes it special. Obviously, these are very inexpensive (or free) because you will be using materials already found in your home. Plus you get to teach your little ones the attitude of recycling first rather than buying brand new things everytime.
This beautiful journal is perfect for them… fun and free to make and easy to replace if they fill them up on the first day. Ha ha!
- 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheets of Good Writing Paper
- Thicker/Tough Material for Cover (such as paper bags or old book jacket, leather bag)
- String or Cord (for binding the journal)
All we’re going to do is fold our sheet in half once. Folding a single page gives you four pages for writing in your journal, so consider how many pages you want when the journal is done.
If you want a smaller journal, all you need to do is fold and tear each sheet in half, and then fold one more time for your (roughly) 4×5 journal.
Each leaf of the journal (and the cover) need about a half inch tear along each end of the crease. Your binding is going to loop around the crease and ‘sit’ in this tear.
Simply identify an interesting part of your recycled material that will serve as a cover, taking into account images, etc. In the pic, you can see that I lay my pages over the grocery bag, aligning it to avoid the messy bits (handles and glued parts). It was easy to find a continuous section that had interesting graphics and no glue or overlaps.
To size the cover, simply use your pages as a template. Mark the dimensions on the bag with a pencil, then cut or tear. When I tear thick paper, I fold, moisten the crease (you can do this with a sponge or your tongue), and rip away.
If the material you’ve chosen for the cover is being recycled (and it oughta be) then it may be crinkled or otherwise beat up. I found that ironing the paper flattens it out nicely and preps it for duty.
Tear or cut a half-inch into the creased cover to match your folded and notched internal pages and put it all together.
I sometimes tie a double fisherman’s knot to make it more secure.
A rubber band is also great in a pinch, and works well for young children: if they can’t tie the knots (or aren’t patient enough to wait for you to), they can slip a rubber band over their book and easily remove it to customize the contents.
In this step, I’ve used thicker string than I normally would, in order to show the process more clearly. You’ll need to practice with this knot a bit, in order to ensure that it can be loosened and tightened to fit. The goal is that you can tighten it by pulling on the working ends of the string so it will fit snugly, while still allowing the loop to loosen enough to free up the pages.
The loop ‘loosens’ by sliding the two fisherman’s knots toward each other, tightens again by sliding them apart. It will take a bit of trial and error to get the knots tied in a way that makes the loop sized right for snugness when closed and the ability to remove pages when open.
Of course, you can make use of this journal for several other purposes – taking down notes, making lists, drawing ideas, etc. We know you’re crafty, so you might choose to fold first lengthwise (tearing a sheet into two 4×11-ish sheets, then folding vertically to make a different shaped book). It depends on how you plan to use it.
This kind of journal is really great in that you can also easily replace the pages or insert some other papers such as maps and reference materials.
Would this be your next weekend project with the kids?
Thanks to maudlin for this great project!