8 1/2" x 11" Book Making · Making books with elementary students · simple book binding

Popscicle Sticks, Stick’ems, Pipe Cleaners and Hair Band Book

pink and purple book with cool closure

The school year is just about over in this part of the world. At Indian Lake Central School the staff puts together a really cool thing for the last full week of school. They call it Heritage Week. It’s a brilliant concept: for five days the curriculum revolves around exploring different facets of the town of Indian Lake, from both historical and contemporary perspectives. Included in the week are visits to the Adirondack Museum, visits with local storytellers and songwriters, and research about historical places and people. And guess what: they need a book which they can fill with pictures and information gathered during the week! That’s where I fit in.

three hole punch and papers

My job is to help students make books which are added to at intervals during Heritage Week. I have only about 50 minutes to help each group of students make their books, start to finish. I was pleased at how this particular book, for the first, second and third graders, worked out. Each student started out by picking out two pieces of cover wieight paper. One paper was standard sized 8 1/2″ x 11″, the other was twice a big, 11” x 17″. We then used a three hole punch to put holes on the one of edge of each paper.

lining up papers and folding ends

The corners of the bigger paper were then folded to the middle (like what you do when making a paper airplane). The tip of the resulting triangle was then folded down about an inch and a half.

lining up the holes

Students applied just a bit of glue to the holed end of the smaller paper, lined up the holes of the two papers and pressed.

putting in the pipe cleaner posts

What really holds these two papers together, though, are the two pipe cleaners that are laced through the holes.

adding pages to the pipe cleaners

The pipe cleaners do double duty: they hold the cover papers together, and they act as posts to bind together loose sheets of paper. After a few sheets of paper were inserted into their books I instructed the students to just bend the pipe cleaners down without twisting them or otherwise securing them. Just lifting up the pipe cleaners is what will make it easy to add more pages as the week progresses. After  inserting the inside pages students folded  the covers around the papers.

Two books

Because it’s so close to the end of the school year, I especially wanted to introduce some whimsy. The sparkly pipe clearers were just one of the fun elements that the students used. After the books were assemble I laid out colored popscicle sticks and square sticky-backed “jewels” for cover decoration.


I thought the coolest part of this project was the closure. If you remember, back in the first step I mentioned that the students folded down the tip of the triangle at the edge of the paper. I had them snip a tiny slit at each edge of the triangle. then we slipped a rubber hair band around the fold, making sure the hair band fit into the slits.


On the cover of each book in just the right place we attached a paper fastener, thus creating an awesome closure. Hurrah!

8 1/2" x 11" Book Making · Drawings · garden drawings · Making books with elementary students

Where’s summer? We’ve got the flowers, and that’s a start!

yellow flower drawing

It’s cool (cold?) and rainy here in upstate NY. We’ve had a few teaser hot days, but not lately. As the school year winds down, I am taking a great deal of pleasure in looking over the flowers of summer that were drawn by third graders during my time with them making Spinning Books which feature the parts of plants on one side of the page, and the explanation of the function of that plant part on the backside of the page.

colorful flower

The highlight of this workshop was looking at flower drawings done by the students.flowers on a spike

I offered fairly opened-ended suggestions on how to draw flowers. I demonstrated flowers with four-and-five petals, with more than five petals, umbel-type flowers (flower cluster resemble umbellas), and racemes (flowers on spike), I told them that there are so many types of flowers in the world whatever choices they made in terms of shapes and colors, that there is likely a flower somewhere that would match their creation.

getting started with flower drawings

The students began their drawings on cover-weight white paper which had two 4” squares and one 4″ x 2.5″ rectangle printed on the paper. This helped students make their drawings as big as they needed to be.

red shirt, red flower

It was interesting to see that many children drew pictures that matched the clothing that they were wearing.

flower parts on page

After the drawings were done, the students cut them out, leaving  a border of white paper around the edges of the drawings. This helps the drawings stand out better than if they were cut right on the black line (which is first done is pencil, then traced over with a thin black marker).

mexican looking flower

I have to say that this project was a complete pleasure to do with these third graders. Their ample skills, enthusiasm and creativity were well showcased.

Ellie's flower and pot

I was particularly blown away by noticing the wide range of expression. While some drawings were lovely in a classically recognizable way…

Dancing Stamens

…the work of other students looked like cutting edge modern art. Notice how the stamens of this flower look like dancers in a fiery field!


And this young man was excited to draw the Texas Bluebonnet as it appeared to him. He sounded completely captivated as he explained to me how the parts of this flower blended to appear to be a dense cluster of blue.

Flower going into its pot

Watching these students draw is the best part of what I do. And it helps me bear waiting for this summer to come.

Again, here is the link to the first post I wrote on these Spinning Books: take a look if you would like to get a better idea of the finished product.

8 1/2" x 11" Book Making · Artful Recycling · Binding Loose Papers · How-to · Journals · Making Books with children · Making books with elementary students · Non-adhesive Book · simple book binding

Making Books while the Snow Falls

Working as a visiting artist in Upstate New York requires good snow tires. Since where I live is centrally located int he middle of nowhere, I generally drive about an hour no matter where I am heading. If we’re expecting sleet and ice I stay home. With snow, I drive slowly and pray.  Yesterday, the temperature was generously below freezing so I was confident that the snow would not turn to ice, and I headed out for a day in with students.

It was worth the trip. I helped about 60 fifth graders in three different classes make journals.

One of the students, James, said that this was an awesome project. He felt that the hardest part of the project was folding the papers . This didn’t surprise me. I’ve noticed that by the fifth grade most students have accepted the fact that papers don’t fold in half evenly. High on my agenda is to take the time to offer explicit instructions on how to successfully outwit the uncooperative nature of paper. To really get students on board with this I bring in bone folders for them to use. Students seem to genuinely appreciate learning how to fold paper well.

The teacher that invited me to come to these classes had this to say: “Paula’s workshops with all of the 5th grade classes were fantastic today. All of the students were very excited about the journals they created, and I’m sure it will motivate even our most reluctant writers.”

We made the covers of the books according to the directions below. The wallpaper covers were made from samples that were cut down to 17″ x 11 1/2″.   I’ve also have B&W directions for the Pocketed Book Cover.

Directions for Pocketed Book Cover by Paula Krieg

One of the students, Emily, seemed concerned that there might not be enough pages for the content. My impression is that she had big plans for this book. To accommodate the most prolific writers I left behind materials to create a few more books, as well as the suggestion to considering just attaching in a second set of folded pages into the cover, next to (not into) the original set of pages.

Close up of journals made by fifth grades

We attached the pages, five sheets of folded paper, with the modified pamphlet stitch (using 2mm satin rattail cord), hence the notches at the head and tail of the spine. The pages are the size of regular copy paper. The  school’s (absolutely amazing and fabulous) reading specialist ran these papers through the copy machine so that lines are printed on the papers.  After the pages were attached to the covers I gave students 2 sheets of cover weight paper which were cut to fit into the pockets of the book cover. The students slipped these heavy papers into the pockets then glued the upper corners to the book cover: this gives the book a bit more of a sturdy, weighty feel and keeps the wallpaper covers from looking dog-eared.

snow on my car

I didn’t take many photos. I wanted to leave before much more snow fell. In the picture above, the white mound on the left, that’s my car.

8 1/2" x 11" Book Making · How-to · Making books with elementary students · Rubber Band Books · simple book binding

Jelly Bean Books

I recently received this comment on one of my blog pages:

“Hi Paula
I have come across a copy of an article Jelly Bean Books by you, which looks like its been published in a magazine. Unfortunately, I only have step 1, and steps 5 and 6, so cant quite work out how you get the book folded and utilise all the lines you make in step one. Would you consider sending me a link to the instructions for these little books please? I love papercraft, specifically book binding and card making, and collect any new ideas I find.
I look forward to hearing back from you
many thanks

My Jelly Bean Book instructions were written up for a book Making Books and Journals, published by Lark Books 1999. Constance E. Richards collected projects for this book from eleven different book artists. It’s a charming book, full of fine projects, well presented. Constance had asked me to come up with some simple book making projects. Since the request came close to Easter, and since the books are meant to be small and colorful, I called them Jelly Bean Books.

Something about them being small invites playfulness. I make them using all sorts of papers, with snippets of decorations.

Decorating the inside is fun too,.

Template for Jelly Bean book
Print out this template, then copy it on your printer at 115%

Here’s template for making the cover of the Jelly Bean Books. Start with a strip of paper 2 inches x 9 1/2 inches. Score sections according to the template. Fold and glue the two shorter sections together. Fold in the corners of the end of the other side of the paper to make a point.

For the pages, fold and nest four pieces of paper that are either 4 1/4 or 4 3/4 inches. Attach them to the spine of the book (refer to pictures). Attach in with sewing, wrapping or rubberbanding. Cut a slit into into the folded pieces for the pointed end to slip into.

The Making Books and Journals, book was published over ten years ago and can bought, used, for nearly nothing . This being the case, I am going to assume that it’s okay for me to scan the pages for of the book for Bronwyn to print. Here are links to the First Page and the Second Page of the directions published by Lark. These directions are more thorough than what I have written here.

I want to mention that it looks to me, from her email address, that Bronwyn is from New Zealand,. This fact inspired me to take the time to scan in these pages as I am smitten by the fact that the internet allows people from all across the world to easily connect with each other.

And, surpirise, surprise, whilen searching for a used book supplier for Bronwyn, I found this site in New Zealand which announces that this book is going to be republished in March 2011. I couldn’t find a thing about the republishing of this book on Lark’s website, but Amazon‘s site also has the same announcement. If Amazon says it, I guess it must be true….