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Make a Field Journal
Topic: projects & crafts, literature
Time to Complete: 30 minutes
Grade Level: Preschool, K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12
Location(s): Indoor, Outdoor
Season: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
https://kidsgardening.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/Make-a-Field-Journal.pdf
A handmade paper journal that reads My Field Journal with a drawing of a tree. The background is red.
Activity
Field journals can be ideal tools for prompting kids to document, reflect on, and otherwise extend their garden experiences. And when kids create the books from scratch themselves, they are even more inspired to dig in!

Materials

  • 4 to 8 sheets of copy paper per journal, each sheet makes four journal pages
  • Awl or hole punch
  • Linen thread, twine, or yarn cut into 16” pieces
  • Scissors
  • Ruler

*Tip: This is a great activity for all ages, but can be more challenging for kids still developing their fine motor skills. For these children, we recommend using a hole punch and pre-cut thicker yarn tipped with masking tape for threading the spine so that they can still engage with and enjoy all aspects of the activity. Please use your discretion as far as safety with scissors, awl and holepunch.

Background Information

As ever-changing environments, gardens and habitats naturally spark curiosity. When young scientists, writers, and artists see their journals as spaces to capture observations and data, muse and speculate, replay experiences, dream up stories, create poetry and put forth ideas and opinions, learning blossoms.

The act of making books also has colorful curriculum connections. From clay tablets to scrolls, calf skin to paper, hand scribing to electronic type, the history of books and book arts is a fascinating one. You might use it as a springboard for exploring cultures or the social and political changes catalyzed by the advent of each new technology.

Instructions

  1. Fold copy paper in half (hamburger style) and cut along the folded line so you have 8.5” x 5.5” pieces of paper for your journal.
  2. Fold the pieces in half again so each page is 4.25” x 5.5”
  3. Open the pages back up and use the awl (or hole punch) to make three holes – one in the center of the spine, one about an inch from the top, and one about an inch from the bottom. It’s okay to eyeball the placement of the holes.
  4. Measure and cut 16” of thread, twine, or yarn if not done already. Thread the binding by first threading through the center hole from the outside in, then through the top hole from the inside out, then down the outside of the spine through the bottom hold from the outside in, and finally back through the center hold from the inside out. (See diagram.)
  5. Double knot the string against the spine, evening out the length of the ends first if desired, and either cut the ends to desired length or tie a bow.
  6. Decorate the cover and set out on your next outdoor adventure with your new field journal!

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