Journals All Day Long

June 13, 2017

I’ve just noticed that I am more apt to blog about a project before I do it with kids when I am very nervous about how it will turn out.

I was very nervous about most of the projects that I wrote about in my last post. 

Making beautiful drawing journals in one class period is challenging. I’m relieved to say that the day of bookmaking went really well.

This post will mostly be a photo essay of making five styles of books, with kids ages 4 though 11.

Pre-K Book, Pipe Cleaner Binding

Pre-K Book, Pipe Cleaner Binding


The Pre-K kids immediately started to fill their books with drawings,and showing their creatations to each other.

Pre-K sharing

The Pre-K kids immediately started to fill their books with drawings, and lost no time showing off their creations to each other.

First Graders, book on a stick

Kindergartners, book on a stick

Kindergartners did a simple rubber-band and stick binding. They all wanted to decorate their sticks.  Most of the students tended towards making animal shapes with the bling.

First Graders, envelope book

First Graders, envelope book

The big surprise of the day, for me, was both how quickly the first graders finished their project and how amazingly beautiful they turned out. These books took them only twenty minutes to make.

First graders assembling their books

First graders assembling their books

Knowing what I know now I would slow the project down and help the kids less. I was so nervous about how this project would  go.

Assembling envelopes into pages

Assembling envelopes into pages


Finished Envelope books

Finished Envelope books

 Wallpaper-sample covers were simply glued on.  These look so good to me.

Simple sewing, lots of embellishments

Simple sewing, lots of embellishments

The modified pamphlet stitch book with pocketed covers made by 2nd & 3rd graders was the only project that I’ve done so often with students that I knew it would go well.

Second and Third graders made sewn book with beads

Second & Third graders made sewn book with beads


Ribbon Journal

Ribbon Journal

The highlight of the day, for me, was making these sewn journals with 4th & 5th graders.



The book block was made from 4 pieces of 11″ x 17″ papers folding into origami pamphlets, then sewn together side-by-side. All the holes for sewing were punched by paper punches.

Wallpaper-sample covers were attached by threading ribbons through holes in the cover and endpapers.

Ribbon Journals made by 4th and 5th graders

Ribbon Journals made by 4th and 5th graders

This project ran a bit over time. We were suppose to finish in 45 minuets, but it took 50 minutes. No one complained 🙂

Aerial view of Ribbon Books

Aerial view of Ribbon Books

These books, like most of the other books made yesterday, were constructed without glue, The only exception is the envelope books.  I didn’t exclude the use of glue intentionally, but I guess I think about glueless structures more often than not.

This was the last class of this school season. Now I can get back to some housecleaning.

I am ending this season happy!


A Pre-K Project

A Pre-K Project

Tonight I’m finishing up gathering supplies for the first day of what is always my most challenging, and most satisfying, school visit of the my teaching-artist season. I have been visiting schools in the Adirondacks for many years, but I have spent the most time in this one particular school. I get to work with nine grade levels, pre-K through 7th grade.  I need to create nine completely different projects, which will go from beginning to completion over six days, spread out through the month of March.

In the interest of finishing up the details, and getting to bed (last night, daylight savings time kicked in, so getting up tomorrow morning will be a challenge) I am going to list the nine projects for the nine grade levels, then I’m going to try to write about them over the course of the month.

Here goes.

PreK: the teachers asked that we do a project with the students’ names. We’ll thread beads and cover weight papers on to shoelace-tipped yarn, write a letter on one side of the card, and a picture which starts with that letter on the back. See photo above,

Kindergarten: Accordion Book with pockets, a variation of structure in the picture below.

An Accordion Book with Pockets for Kindergarten Sight Words

An Accordion Book with Pockets for Kindergarten Sight Words

First Grade:  A  folding triptych about Alaska and an  animal that lives in Alaska. Will include a pop-up, a pocket to hold research papers, and a poetry page. We’ll color the sky with Northern Lights.

Second Grade: A book that folds up like a valise, that has pockets within for a “passport,” a folding map, postcards, a boarding ticket, and little books with information about a country that the student is studying.

Third Grade: We’ll make a journal for the students to use however they want.

Fourth Grade: This is the class that will be making a Zero to One Fractions  book that I’ve been writing about

Fifth Grade: I still have some planning to do on this project, but it will likely be a social studies based project made from units of an Origami Base, which opens and closes in a dynamic way.

Sixth Grade: This group will use tabloid size papers, folded in half, and bound, in four separate sections, with large rubber bands. The students will use these with their English teacher, between now and the end of the year, as a memory catcher.

Seventh Grade: We’ll fold down and trim a large, 35″ x 23 ” paper into an 8.75″ x 5.75″ pamphlet, which students will sew, glue in to a hinge piece, add soft covers, and decorate. The book will go with them to their English class, for content to be added between now and the end of the school year.

I keep everything organized ( I hope) in a notebook that I can make in about five minutes, that looks like this.

How to Bind Loose Leaf Papers by Paula Beardell Krieg

Hopefully I will be posting all of these projects. But now it’s time to wrap things up for the night.

Pocketed Selves

An Autobiography Book by Gail DePace’s 2nd graders, 2010

I had planned that this post be about the Paul Johnson show, but I won’t be able to get in to photograph it just yet. Instead I’ve decided to seize the moment and write about this great back-to-school project that Gail DePace did with her 2nd graders a few years ago. Gail and I worked together many times, and I see my influence in these books, but Gail (now retired) was an inspired teacher in her own right, and just took off with any of the skills that she picked up from me. What she did here was make a  template of a young person, which each student personalized in their own likeness. With some simple folding the students created a pocket, which was glued on to the front of the book and which held the little self.


Origami Pamphlet, modified

Based on Origami Pamphlet folds

For the body of the book I’m fairly sure that Gail started out with a somewhat large sheet of paper, probably 11 inch x 17 inch (A3). The folds are based on the Origami Pamphlet folds. That cut away window in the middle makes a place for a secret picture, which is only revealed with when the book is set up in a certain way. Like this…

Looking through the window

Looking through the window

Here the book is set up so you can peek into the lives of the author.

View from above

View from above

Here’s the bird’s eye view of the book. Have you noticed the bit of framing that is done around some of the little drawings? This is accomplished by providing each student with just one square post-it, which they mount, temporarily, in their book, then color around it, thus masking off what’s beneath.


As lovely as this structure is, it’s the content that makes them so fabulous. Student wrote about their family, about their favorite place to be (which was illustrated inside the window) and what they like and dislike.

It turns out that no one likes picking up their brother's dirty socks

It turns out that no one likes picking up their brother’s dirty socks

Then they ended the book with hopes for the future.


Hmm. I love student work.




June 6, 2012

Lady Wearing a Pink Pillbox Hat

Lady Wearing a Pink Pillbox Hat

Each season that I am involved with classroom bookmaking students nudge me into making discoveries about how to think about bookmaking.  This year one of the  lessons that I walk away with is how satisfying it can be to bond with the bookmaking process through a personalized book-figure. Okay, that’s not a real term, but I don’t know what else to call it.

Brianna's Flower

Brianna’s Flower

What I noticed was that once a child created an image for their book that they could sort of anthropomorphize they seemed to connect and care more about their subject matter and their book. For instance Brianna’s Flower (above) became a personal extension of herself, so her project became very much her very own, rather than just another assignment.

Charlie's Dinosaurs

Charlie’s Dinosaurs

This connection seemed to be made if it was a fantasy flower, an extinct animal….

Endangered Animals

Endangered Animals…black and white drawings downloaded from the Enchanted Learning website. To give the animals more personality the students enhanced the eyes by making them bigger and defining the area around the eyeball.

…or endangered animals. When I started to noticing how students made connections to their books through these figures I began to encourage them to feel free rein while enhancing them through color….which led to some extravagant and lovely results.

two women

Two women

I can’t remember who the ladies are in the photo above, but I like their taste in clothing.

Here’s the president and his wife, as created by the hands of second graders who were researching famous people.



By the time I worked with first graders on their chick project I had figured out that the first thing we should do is cut out a chick (everyone had the same chick pattern to cut out).  I knew enough to encourage each child to give their own chick a personality by making an expressive eye,  giving the beak some color and shape and considering the shape of the wing.  If a chick became temporarily misplaced before we attached it into the book, the student would look for it as if she were looking for a personal friend, and it was a sweet reunion once the chick was found. 

 When I worked with second graders on their flower and plant book I told them not to worry about making a particular flower, but , instead to create a flower according to their own ideas about what would attract the kind of bee they want to be visited upon.  I loved the flowers that these students came up with! The most interesting thing that happened, though, was that as these book-figures developed I realized that, through these book figures, even I was connecting to the students books in a more personalized way.  One day I had to make a stop at a school sometime after my residency ended.  The completed projects were on display, and I had time to take a look at them.  One of the books housed the lady in the pink pillbox hat,  shown in the first photo of this post. She was such a character that I had to go back again with my camera to make sure I had a record of her. Fortunately, by the time I caught up with the teacher, Mr. Terri -who also happened to be the teacher who came up the concept of this project- the pink hatted lady was still in the classroom.  I would have been truly despondent had she gone home without  my photographing her.  Just a couple of days ago I showed her image to my friend, Ed. I was absolutely delighted that he immediately and correctly guessed her identity.Jackie Kennedy in her Pink Pillbox Hat

Here she is again, my book-figure friend Jackie Kennedy saying good-bye for  me as I am about to sign off on classroom bookmaking for the 2011-2012 school year.

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