Making books with elementary students · Non-adhesive Book · simple book binding

Immigration Journal for 5th Graders

This is the second year I have done this journal project with fifth graders in Saratoga Springs. I wrote about it last year, but in less detail than I plan to write about it today.

This workshop day was requested by the school’s reading specialist, who had done a similar project on her own with a few students.  She was impressed by the students’ reaction to their journals, and thus requested that I come for a day and make these books with the whole grade level, about 70 students.

Books standing on the windowsill

We used paper from large wallpaper sample books. These books are 17″ tall, and about 12″ wide, though the width of the pages is bound tightly with industrial size staples. I cut the papers out of the books, so the final size is 17″ x 11 1/4;, though standard 17″ x 11″ paper would work well too.  Wallpaper books are fun to use because each student’s book is visually unique.

Directions for Pocketed Book Cover by Paula Krieg

The students folded the covers according to the directions above, with one exception. Before the last step of closing the cover, I asked them to snip off the tip of the triangle, about the width of a pencil.

Master Page for Printing Journal Lines on Paper

Students then folded 5 sheets of standard sized paper, 8 1/2″ x 11″, however, to give the pages an antique-like look, we used Ivory faux parchment paper, made by Southworth. The four inside pages were run through the copy machine to copy on the lines pictured above. The outside page is unlined because, well, I like the look of unlined paper when the book is first opened.


Last year, to attach the pages to the cover, we had used a lovely cord called Rattail, from a beading shop, which turned out to be too smooth and slippery: the students’ knots kept coming undone. Yarn, twine or cotton cord could be other choices. Just nothing too stiff, too thick, or too smooth. This year we used 30 inch lengths of  black and silver craft cord to attach the pages to the spine of the book cover, doing a no-needle method of sewing, illustrated in the direction sheet below.

No-needle modified pamphlet stitch
No-needle modified pamphlet stitch

This pretty much finished up the project. I like a book that feels more substantial, so, for a finishing touch, I handed each student two sheets of stiff oaktag type papers to slip into the front and back inside pockets.

Inside pocket

I recommended that the students choose for themselves whether or not they wanted to put a dab of glue on the stiff paper so that it would, or would not, permanently affixed to the pocket. Also, they made their own decision as to whether or not they wanted to add a bit of glue to the edge of the pocket, thus closing off, or not closing off, the possibility of things sliding out the foredge side of the pocket.

I had asked the school to allot 75 minutes per class to make this book. The students were positive, capable, and engaged in their work. Each class finished with 5 to 7 minutes to spare, and there was no rushing. Bsides having such fine groups of students to work with (kudos to their teachers!) another factor that streamlined this project was that students picked out their covers prior to my visit in the class. I will be visiting this school again, seeing other classes. I look forward to taking a peek into the 5th grade again, to see how the students develop these journals.

Binding Loose Papers · How-to · Making Books with children

How to make a Pipe Cleaner Bound Notebook/Scrapbook

Creating a binding for single sheets of notebook paper elevates groups of papers into something more precious.  I’ve recently written some posts on my current favorite way of binding loose papers. The printable hand-out above goes into detail with the steps of  using a pipe-cleaner binding to make a handsome folder.  When I made this with Indian Lake students we used colored papers for the covers; when the students I worked with in Saratoga Springs made it, we used black covers. Either way,  they looked great.

Click on the image on the left for a black & white version of the above hand-out.

Pipe-Cleaner Bound Notebook by Paula Krieg
Pipe-Cleaner Bound Notebook

The students have been filling these folder with their collections of pictures and facts. Good, solid, serious stuff. Personally, I have been enjoying just decorating them.

8 1/2" x 11" Book Making · Accordion Books · Making Books with children · Rubber Band Books

Making Books with Second Graders, 3/2010

Books in Pockets

This past week I had the opportunity to  teach second graders how to make a vairety of books that they could use for their own ideas.   I met with four different classes three times each over the course of three days. Generally when I visit classrooms I come in to help facilitate a specific project, such as making poetry books, or books which showcase student research on a specific topic.  Not being used to showing students how to make books without a specific subject matter in mind, I wasn’t quite sure what would work the best for these students. I have to say that I made a few decisions that I was, ah, able to learn from.

Here’s what was going on: the students were involved in a week of testing, and the teachers wanted to offer an enjoyable counterpoint to the hours of focussed work that these children had to endure.  Applause, please!

Origami Pamphlet with hearts

The first thing I tried was to demonstrate  a varitey of simple book structures, and then allowed students the freedom to independently create a book of their own choosing.  I can confidently say that this was a terrible decision.  I quickly changed my agenda.  What worked best for these children was for me to work step by step, creating each structure with them, beginning to end, and then let them choose which structure they wanted to develop.  Together we made a book with a rubber band binding,  a modified-for-seconde-graders pamphlet stitched book,  a french-fold accordion book, an origami pamphlet, some pop-ups, paper springs, and origami pockets.  We used regular sized copy paper for all projects.

Four books by Second Graders
A Line-up of Pamphlet Sewn Books, Modified Technique for Second Graders

The next thing that I learned about second graders is the wide range of skills they bring to their work.  For this reason I can’t say that one structure was better than another for this age group in general.  I had suspected that using half sheets of copy paper (folded in half, nested together and bound with a #19 rubber band) would be too small a size for their big handwriting.  Wrong again.  The small size book was perfect for some students who might be intimdated by a larger book.

Rubber Band Bound Book
Sydney Loves to Draw

On the other hand, there are students in second grade who write small, and have much to say.  For these students, a largers book (8 1/2′ x 11″ papers folded in half and sewn together) offered them enough room to create chapters….

Pamplet stitched book by second grader

….though I have to say that, regardless of the skill level, the smaller books were generally a popular choice with the students.

Storybook by Second Grader

Enough said.  If you are inclined to look furthrer, here are a few more photos posted for your enjoyment.

More about Verdi (Rubber Band Bound Book)
Four page accordion book
French Fold Accordion Book, using regular sized copy paper
Small Book about a boy who loves baseball
There Once Was a Boy Who Loved Baseball
Rubber Band Book made from Half sheets of Copy Paper, Finished size; 5 1/2″ x 4 1/4″