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Friday, July 20, 2012

Paper Bag Exploring Journals

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I first shared this at Honeybear Lane.  Did you see it there?  What about The Burly Crew--are you familiar with it?  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!

Also, if you notice that one of my 3 kids is missing from our outing, it's true.  Between rain, sickness, and planning for vacation, we ended up just having one afternoon available to do it and she was at day camp.  But she came home from camp and wrote in her journal about it :)

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  1. Great project! I've been using brown kraft paper for projects since the 70s! Love the feel of crumpled! Patsy from
    HeARTworks and

  2. Came over from Overflowing. I have been creating a huge number of journal tags and have now finished them. Now for the journals I am collecting ideas - I love this one especially since I am over at The Graphics Fairy almost every day! I can see the paper wrinkling to be a bit tedious, but the results are worth it. This will definitely be one of my choices for a cover. Thanks for sharing!

    Distressed Donna Down Home

  3. These are so great!!! Love it!!! And lucky you for having cool woodsy lakeside places to explore! We have rocks, sand, desert, snakes & scorpions. lol

  4. These are so pretty! I love the worn and aged feel. So lovely, definitely going on my 'to make' list. If you're ever looking for another place to share your creative ideas, stop by Etcetorize. Party starts tonight and goes all week. Would love to see you there~

  5. What a fabulous idea! those journals look great! I'm defnitely going to try this one!
    Thanks for linking to a Round Tuit!
    Hope you have a fabulous week!
    Jill @ Creating my way to Success

  6. My hubby gets stacks of brown paper as part of his delivery job and I have been looking for ways to use at least some of it! Oh and heres a tip to crinkling the paper faster. dunk the sheet in water, really soak it, crinkle it up, let it dry. this takes a bit of pre planning but works beautifully -- oh, if you have already printed on it tho, if your ink is not permanent, don't use the water method for crinkling...

  7. I love these! thanks for linking up to Make it MOnday! I"ve share your link on my FB page! :)

  8. Love!!!! My girls have exploring journals too, and we may just have to make these to spruce them up and make them more nature-y. They love to do leaf rubbings or draw the places we explored, and this would be a super fun cover. Oh, and I totally remember doing a Lewis and Clark musical in fourth grade, too!!!

  9. This is SO pretty, thanks so much for showing the whole process.

  10. Really neat idea! I love the worn look of the cover and paper - great keepsake!

  11. I love these! Such a great idea!

  12. These are so cute! I know you said it's a great idea for kids, but I love to have a small journal on hand to write down any notes - these would be perfect to stash in your purse!

  13. These are lovely! I can't wait to make one for myself. :)

    xo-Kimberly {allons-y kimberly}

  14. I absolutely love this idea. I am tucking it away in a corner of my brain for future use. Thanks for the inspiration. I also really enjoyed your article about changing your blog. One thing I like about it is how wide it is {that probably sounds like an odd compliment}. If I had a piece of advice, it would be to avoid Shabby Blog templates. No matter what, I have not been able to remove mine. :{ Great tips!

    Warmly, Michelle

  15. These are gorgeous!! Such a great idea and I'm pinning these for later. My to-do list just got longer ;) I'd love if you shared this {and anything else you'd like to share} at my Throwback Thursday party. Hope to see you there! Thanks for sharing :) http://www.hubbymademe.com/throwback-thursday-no-3/

  16. I LOVE this! It is so very cute! My kids love journals. This would be a fun project to make with them.

  17. Wow, these are an awesome idea, Steph! I'm featuring these tonight at the link party! Thanks so much for linking up!!


  18. Oh!!! This is such a wonderful idea!! Thank you for sharing! My daughter will love this for our next outdoor adventure :D


  19. I love this idea.
    Thank you!

  20. What a cool idea! I love the vintage feel of it all and best of all it's functional too! Thanks for sharing {stopping by from The CSI Project}