Journal-Making: Inspiration for Writing & Drawing

Making Journals with Kids Can Encourage & Support Language & Visual Art Skills

On Sunday, July 21, 2013, at 1pm, children’s illustrator Pamela Zagarenski will lead a drawing and booklet binding workshop in the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art’s studio in Amherst. Kids of all ages can come play a drawing-based game and learn how to bind their drawings into a booklet. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield – Handmade journals at the Hilltown Spring Festival Kids’ Made Craft Bazaar)

It’s no secret of parenting that kids have a lot to say. Just as our own adult brains are constantly stirring through ideas, memories, and observations, children’s brains are working just as hard. They make note of interesting things that they see in their surroundings, develop characters and stories inspired by their experiences, and they may even craft clever illustrations to their thoughts inside the confines of their neural connections. Giving kids an outlet isn’t difficult – younger children can often satisfy their creative urges with a basket of crayons and some recycled paper, while older children create more sophisticated drawings, diagrams, stories, or logs when they’ve got something to record.

A great summer project to do as a family to encourage kids’ writing and drawing skills is journal-making…

A journal (handmade or otherwise) can provide kids with a space to easily collect their ideas in an organized manner, and files them in a portable and easy-to-share place. Journals can travel to the beach, on an airplane, or to camp easily, since all of the pages are neatly bound together. Writing utensils can even be attached to journals, in order to ensure that kiddos who enjoy writing in nature will always have a pen or pencil readily available.

There are lots of ways to creatively bind notebooks – older kids may even be able to figure out how to do it themselves, provided they have the proper tools. The International Reading Association offers an easy-to-read tutorial of three different binding methods on How to Bind Books, all possible to complete using only a large needle, thick thread, scissors, and tape (one requires a cork, but can be completed without it).

While the tutorials use standard 8.5″x11″ printer paper, notebooks can be made out of any size, weight, and color paper that the creator desires – recycled paper is best! Kids can even create their own covers before binding the book, perhaps out of a thin cardboard in order to have a more sturdy writing surface. Decorating journals can help to make them even more personalized – try collaging multicolored paper or cutting out interesting images from newspaper and magazines.

Making notebooks together can help to spark lots of different family projects. Perhaps a notebook could serve as a place to record the many different plant and animal species seen in the backyard, or it could become a log of all of the family’s summer adventures, chronicled by a different family member each time. Kids can use their journals to record their daily thoughts, sketch friends, or make lists of ideas and adventures they’d like to have. The possibilities are endless – especially since once you’ve filled your first notebook, you’ll have the skills to make more!

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