Paper Bag Exploring Journals

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 “No take-em, no want-em, gotta have blue beads, blue beads.”  If you were ever in an elementary school production of TheBurly Crew, you know what song this is.  If you don’t, then you might think I’m nuts.  It’s a musical about the Lewis and Clark expedition and I remember all the way back to 4th grade, getting props ready for the play.  We cut out colorful paper handprints to make leaves on the trees, used blue fabric for the water and made little leather books out of brown grocery bags.

I thought it would be great to recreate the project with my kids and help them make their own exploring journals.  Here’s what you’ll need:

Brown grocery bag 
Printer paper
Needle and thread
Image to print on the cover (mine were all from The Graphics Fairy)
Brown ink (optional)

Step 1:  Cut out a piece of the bag and tape it down on a piece of printer paper.  

Step 2:  Choose your cover image and arrange it to print on the bottom left of the page (rotated 90 degrees clockwise).  Each of my kids picked what they wanted on their cover.
Step 3:  Run page through the printer to put your image on the brown paper.

Step 4:  Take brown paper off the printer paper and crumple over, and over, and over.  My kids each started out working on this part, but got bored before it was finished.  It takes about 20 minutes of wrinkling and flattening to give the paper bag a soft fabric-like feel.

Step 5:  Flatten the paper out and cut it to about 5.5 x 8.5 inches.  It doesn’t have to be perfect. Then fold it in half.

Step 6:  Cut a few sheets of printer paper to 5.25 x 8 inches.   Rub edges with brown ink, for an “old” appearance, if desired.  Fold in half and make sure they’ll fit into the cover (if they don’t, trim them down a little)

Step 7:  Stack the filler paper and cover and poke holes (with the needle) down the crease line, about 1/2 inch apart.  Then thread the needle and sew the book together down the center.  Tie it off and cut the thread.

Step 8:  Get out and explore!  We have a lake a few miles from our house with some great trails around it, so we went out for a walk, and I had the kids watch for things around them and take notes in their journals.  We had a blast!


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