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  • Writer's pictureThe Mischievous Librarian

Bookbinding, Primary Style!

(Original Post: March 7, 2021)

Can Grade 2/3 students “bind” their own books?

Yes, they can… with a little scaffolding and a whole lot of creativity!

This project was inspired by the bookbinding workshops I took with Nancy Dawes. Nancy is an incredible and inspiring artist, a Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT), and a trained bookbinder. Nancy was so methodical in breaking down each step of the process that I knew that one day I could teach my students to bind their own books in the library.

Fast forward to Spring 2021, and such an opportunity presented itself when the Grade 2/3 teacher enlisted my help in making writing “fun”. We wanted the students to have a special place to free write that wasn’t in their typical half-lined journals.

So, we made our own writing books.

Set Up

We “cheated” by buying colourful lined notebooks from the dollar store to save time and avoid using sewing needles. I would do this again in a heartbeat for any primary grades.

I found "free" fabric in the art room and the students chose from three colours.

Students also chose inside front/back cover paper.

I traced and cut out the front/back covers and spine pieces out of chipboard and fabric to speed up the process.

Day 1

1. Front and back OUTSIDE covers

  • Dab bookbinding glue on chipboard (sponge brushes)

  • Place chipboard in the middle of the fabric

  • Fold over fabric corners and glue

  • Fold over fabric edges and glue

2. Spine

  • Dab glue on spine chipboard

  • Place chipboard in the middle of the fabric

  • Fold over fabric top and bottom and glue *Don’t fold or glue the sides

Day 2

1. Attach spine to covers

  • Dab glue on spine fabric edges

  • Lay front and back covers onto the spine fabric edges

  • Press down and count to 100

2. Front and back INSIDE covers

  • Dab glue on coloured paper (sponge brushes)

  • Place paper over the exposed chipboard *Dab a little extra glue on the corners!

  • Press down and count to 100​

3. Spine INSIDE fabric

  • Dab glue on fabric (sponge brushes)

  • Place fabric over exposed spine chipboard

Day 3

1. Glue writing pad on back INSIDE cover

2. Add bling to the front OUTSIDE cover


  • I recommend wearing smocks and putting tarps over the tables.

  • Glue: PVA Adhesive ( I used the brand Neutral pH Adhesive).

  • Make sure to soak/wash the sponges as soon as the students are finished using them. I had a bucket of warm soapy water available on my desk.

  • Use one paper plate between 2 students for glue

  • Set up a “drying place” on a counter with students names on sticky notes. This way students know where to find/put their books during drying times.

  • Bling: sequence/flat beads from the dollar store

  • Write their names inside the front covers at the end

The students thoroughly enjoyed the process. I even found a few of them during recess writing poems and stories in their new books!

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