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How to Decorate a Writer's Notebook or Journal: Craft for Kids

Cara is a mother of two young children and has taught second through fifth grade.

Examples of writer's notebooks and journals decorated by kids.

Examples of writer's notebooks and journals decorated by kids.

Designing a Writer's Notebook: A Project for Kids

Journals, composition books, and notebooks can be purchased almost anywhere. I know that I have several that I enjoy writing in. However, there is something about creating a notebook that is personal to you that creates a spark of excitement and an interest and enthusiasm for writing. For reluctant writers as well as those that are already accomplished, a writer’s notebook of their own is just the key to jump-starting that inspiration.

Creating a writer’s notebook is a fantastic way to help children develop their skills and fluency in writing. I use writer’s notebooks in my classroom. Since writing is a family talent, I decided to help my niece and nephew (along with my own children) to create one to have for themselves.

Sample of materials needed for your notebook.

Sample of materials needed for your notebook.

Materials Needed to Decorate Your Spiral Notebook or Composition Book

You need several things to create your writer’s notebook; however, they are very simple things that you may have around your home or are easy to find in stores. Remember that these are just suggestions for decorations. Decorating ideas for your notebook are as endless as your imagination, so be creative!

  • Composition book: Anything will work, but I like the composition style, not the spiral notebooks.
  • Variety of pictures: These can be photos of family, vacations, nature, magazine photos—anything that piques your interest and your writer can identify with to feel that it is his or her notebook.
  • Additional decorations: Stickers, scrapbook paper, foam stickers, and markers to write on the notebook are all great additional embellishments for the notebooks.
  • Scissors and glue for cutting and gluing the pictures down.
  • Clear contact paper: This will be used to cover the notebook at the end.

Steps to Create a Writer's Notebook for School or Home

  1. The first thing that you want to do (after you have gathered all of your materials) is to cut out the pictures that you want to add to your notebook. When I start to get catalogs in the mail for Christmas, I set them aside because I know that they will have pictures that are of interest to my children and I will also not mind having them cut apart. I also use old magazines that I am finished with and photos that have been selected by children that have a personal importance to him or her. These may be photos of family, vacations, something in nature, etc.
  2. Once the pictures have been selected, have the child glue them down on the front and back covers of the notebook. This is where the notebook starts to become their very own. The pictures that are selected and the design that is created personalizes the notebook for each individual child. Note: I like to use glue sticks rather than liquid glue. It does not run the way liquid glue does and takes less time to dry as well as creates a smoother surface.
  3. After all of the pictures have been glued down, it is time to cover the notebook with clear contact paper. This will both smooth out the pictures as well as protect them from damage as the notebook is lovingly used by the child.
  4. When you are covering the notebook, cut the contact paper about an inch larger than the notebook on each side. You will need the extra space to fold the contact paper onto the book to create the seal. Do a quick measure of the contact paper with the notebook and crease where you want to fold the contact paper over onto the front cover of your notebook. This will be important once you remove the backing.
  5. Remove the backing from the contact paper and lay the contact paper flat on the surface of the table. Place the front cover flat on the contact paper and line it up with the crease that you made earlier.
  6. Next, cut away the overlapping corners, and cut a half-inch away from the center of the bottom and top center part of the contact paper where the actual pages are. You will not be able to fold this part of the contact paper over so just remove it completely.
  7. Fold the top and bottom parts of the contact paper over onto the front cover of the writer’s notebook. Repeat these steps for the back cover.

Once you have completed covering the notebook with contact paper, your notebook is ready to use! Have a great time collecting the stories and developing ideas to share with your readers. You will be amazed at how this simple notebook inspires your child to write more and more.

Additional Writing Journal Ideas for Students

For my students, I tab sections for them that are labeled story ideas, mentor texts, and drafts. The story ideas and mentor texts are smaller sections and are really self-explanatory:

  • The story idea section is for students to keep an ongoing list of ideas of things that they can later create stories about. These can be things like people, places, poetry inspirations, or ideas for fiction pieces of writing.
  • The mentor text section is for students to place examples of writing that they have seen and heard by other author’s that they would like to try in their own writing. It is sort of an inspiration section of the notebook.

The final section is for the young writer to actually compose drafts of their writing. This is the largest section of the notebook because it will in theory be the one that needs the most space to hold all of the wonderful writing that your child or students will create.

Adults Enjoy This Project, Too!

Although this article is dedicated to creating a writer’s notebook for children, it is certainly not something that is JUST for children. I have created my own writer’s notebook that I have decorated with my own interests and inspirations. So don’t think that if you are not a kid, that you cannot create one for yourself. So happy writing to you and your children!


cardelean (author) from Michigan on January 08, 2012:

You're welcome annart. I hope that you get a chance to create one with her and that she finds it inspirational to capture all of those words within her. Thanks for your comments.

Ann Carr from SW England on January 08, 2012:

Useful hub. I've been writing a story with my granddaughter as an on-going project and she loves writing anything. Don't know why I hadn't thought about suggesting she make a notebook for that particular purpose! Thank you.

cardelean (author) from Michigan on December 13, 2011:

Just wanted to let everyone who uses Internet Explorer know that if you couldn't see the video previously, the problem has been fixed and you should be able to view it now.

cardelean (author) from Michigan on December 08, 2011:

I hope that this idea helps your daughter keep her journal together Dumbledore. I have the same problem with some of my students. That is why I like the composition books, because it is not as easy to tear the pages out. Let me know how she likes it and thanks for your comments.

This Old Guy from Somewhere in Ohio on December 08, 2011:

The ideas of inserting Mentor's text and saving catalogs are truely inspiring. My daughter enjoys writing but whenever I get her a journal she starts tearing out the pages to write little notes. Maybe she needs something a little more ersonal that she will value. I will certainly give this a try.

cardelean (author) from Michigan on December 07, 2011:

Thanks RT. I think that keeping a notebook with mentor text is great for all writers. Hope the grandkids like it!

RTalloni on December 07, 2011:

Fabulous idea(s) in a super hub! Love it--tips like the mentor text make this a very motivating project for students and other writers. :)

Voted up and bookmarked for grandchildren!

cardelean (author) from Michigan on December 07, 2011:

Thanks Kris, I'm glad you found it useful. In my video I am making the notebooks with my niece and nephew as well as my own kids. So glad you stopped by to read.

Kris Heeter from Indiana on December 07, 2011:

I ran across you hub on Google+. I love this idea. I don't have children but this would be a great thing to share and start with my nieces and nephew.

cardelean (author) from Michigan on December 07, 2011:

Wow Jimmiewriter! What is The Notebooking Fairy? I'd love to have more information about that. I am so honored that you are sharing my hub. So glad that you found it helpful! Thanks for reading and commenting.

I know Mom, she was cracking me up when I was going through all of the footage to edit the video. The hand was the five little pumpkins song. There were a couple of moments with the little guy that I edited out but overall they were very into it. Glad you found it useful, thanks for commenting.

Denise Handlon from North Carolina on December 06, 2011:

Cara-I loved the video. Grace had me LOL a few times when she 1. did a hand gesture of holding her hand up like she was 'five' or, was she making a 'turkey'? I didn't know, but it was an aside entertainment while she patiently waited for you to finish the contact paper and 2. when she waved to the camera. Hilarious.

I know it isn't meant to be funny, but you know how kids are!

Comments: I loved that you included ALL of the kids regardless of their ages. I do know that my grandkids are very independent, but was amazed and proud at how easily Alex held those scissors and cut.

I loved that the kids were SO patient when they started the project and stayed focused and serious. There was no horsing around in front of the camera or making ridiculous (what's that, right?) or acting out behavior for attention seeking.

I loved the tutorial in general. Great visual as well as the written explanation. I'm not sure who mentioned it first, but the script across the video really enhanced it. You'll have to show me this when I visit this Christmas. The photos were very helpful as well.

I loved the whole concept of encouraging the writing.

Thanks for sharing the tutorial. Rated up and across

Jimmie Quick from Memphis, TN USA on December 06, 2011:

Wonderful! I love the combination of notebooking/journaling with writing. My favorite part is when you explain the story ideas, mentor texts, and drafts and show us photos. Very practical. Thank you!

I will be featuring this in the January Round-up at The Notebooking Fairy.

Gail Sobotkin from South Carolina on December 06, 2011:

You're right - I couldn't view the video. Have been able to view other videos since the last time I mentioned this difficulty to you.

cardelean (author) from Michigan on December 06, 2011:

I love that "kids" section idea. Not sure if that would work but I know that lots of kids would love to see their work published too. I'm going to assume since you didn't mention it that you are still not seeing the video. I reported it but I think it's an issue with the windows internet explorer. I know that I don't have a problem with the video when I am using firefox. Thanks for your comments!

Gail Sobotkin from South Carolina on December 06, 2011:

Great hub with very practical and fun suggestions that adults can use to inspire kids to write. It's also a great way for adult writers to organize their own story ideas. Loved the photos. Too bad they don't have a children's section on Hup Pages where kids can publish their own writings (with parental supervision).

Voted up, awesome, beautiful and interesting.

cardelean (author) from Michigan on December 06, 2011:

icountthetimes you have very much stated my mantra. I am a teacher (hence the reason I did this activity with my kids) and I see all too often the lack of parental involvement. Learning starts in the home and the most formidible years are birth to age five, far sooner than we ever receive them. The world is classroom, nicely said. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment.

icountthetimes on December 06, 2011:

What stood out to me here is the time and effort you put into helping your children learn. Many parents seem to think they can leave education solely to the teacher in the classroom. More people should take the view that the whole world is a classroom and that parents can play a key role in the learning process.

cardelean (author) from Michigan on December 03, 2011:

It was really funny! And I thing that you are right, they would probably get along great, that is if Grace isn't too bossy to your girls! :) You have a great weekend as well.

Robin Edmondson from San Francisco on December 02, 2011:

Now I want to see her singing about her kitten - adorable! I think our girls would get along! I found our middle videotaping our oldest singing the other day. It was very sweet. I'll look into lulu, too. For xmas, my mom just bought Georgia a gift certificate to publish one of her books. I'm sure she'll love it! Have a great weekend!

cardelean (author) from Michigan on December 02, 2011:

Thanks pmccray for your visit. It is great for adults as well as kids.

Thanks Robin. They are very patient with their photo and video taking Mommy! I think that Grace is taking after me because she is always walking around the one of the cameras. She even video taped our new kitten as she sang about him to her teachers so that they could see him. I have never heard of Tikatok before, I will have to check it out. A while back I was looking into lulu to publish a class book but never followed through with it. Thanks for sharing your information and commenting. I hope your girls enjoy making the notebooks.

cardelean (author) from Michigan on December 02, 2011:

Thanks for the visit Christina. It's really a great idea for kids of all ages. Hope that it helps to inspire your daughter.

What a fantastic idea adding it to part of the bedtime routine. As my kids get a little older I think that I will try that. Thanks for adding your comment greatparenting.

LOL, that is funny Leah. I got a new laptop as an early Christmas present last year but I upgraded my windows software this summer and it was included in that. You can download the latest version of the flip cam editing software if you go to their website. Let me know how the notebooks turn out!

Robin Edmondson from San Francisco on December 02, 2011:

I love your video with your kids; they are adorable. I'll have to do this with my three. Our oldest has been wanting some of her stories published and I recently found Tikatok. Have you used this service before?

pmccray on December 02, 2011:

What a great idea for adults. Excellent hub, interesting subject matter. Voted up, marked useful, interesting and book marked

Leah Lefler from Western New York on December 02, 2011:

Good to know. I have a flip cam so I'll have to play with the editing features. We don't have windows movie maker because our computer is only slightly newer than the abacus, but I might think about finding software online.

I think we'll make notebooks this weekend - both kids would enjoy it, though Matt is the one that would really LOVE it!

greatparenting from philadelphia, pa and corolla, nc on December 02, 2011:

Wonderful hub and something I wish all parents would do. My daughters also had writer's notebooks and we would often read what they wrote together as bedtime stories. They loved reading their own and they loved hearing the stories their sisters wrote in their books.

~Christina from Northern Virginia on December 02, 2011:

Great Hub! My son has a composition notebook decorated like this for his weekly school homework. He had a lot of fun making it. I'm thinking this would be a great project for my 10 year old who loves to write but could use some help honing her writing skills.

cardelean (author) from Michigan on December 02, 2011:

Thanks Leah! It was really fun to create. I have been using my flip camera to video tape but Grace is also a budding videographer and has broken my camera. :( So I was using the editing software that comes with that. However, I recently discovered that my computer has windows movie maker and that is what I used to add the subtitles for this hub and my hummingbird moth one. It's great but I'm still quite a novice with the features of it so little by little I'm trying new things.

Hope you get a chance to create a notebook with Matthew.

Leah Lefler from Western New York on December 02, 2011:

I love this hub! What a great idea to encourage budding writers - my son Matthew (about the same age as your Grace) would LOVE this activity. Cardelean, what video editing software do you use (to add titles, etc)?