19 January 2014

Color Me Crafty Projects for Kids: Art Journal

Color Me Crafty was the name of the children's arts and crafts classes I have been teaching.  My kids range from ages 4-10, and they are AWESOME!  They are open to new things in a way that we adults are not.  They will grow and experiment and not care about the results, so long as they have fun doing it.  Being in their space and seeing through their eyes while they create has given me perhaps the greatest lesson I have ever learned about art. 

My classes focus on joyful play, rather than technique building.  Which is not to say that I don't care if the kids learn something-- I absolutely do want them to come away with some new  skills.  But my goal has always been to give my kids a love of using their creativity, an exposure to the many ways that they can do "art" and a reliable, repeatable method of expressing their emotions.

Weeks 1 & 2:  Mixed Media Journal: Necessity as the Mother of Invention

For any who have worked with children, you learn that some kids pick up things fast (or rush, depending on the child!) and some are more meticulous or need more instruction or help.  Balancing the needs of all 8 or 9 of my students was always difficult for me, with differences of sometimes 20 minutes getting projects completed.

Until I gave them all mixed media journals.

The simplicity and genius of the solution is hard to explain.  But at the end of the day, kids just really like to draw.  They need some prompting for ideas of what to draw, but ultimately, they love to tell stories with their drawings.  I used their journals as just that-- storytellers that also gave them practice at one of the hardest skills they will ever try to learn.

I gave them weekly prompts, taped into their journals, so even if they missed a week because the project had taken too long, they were able to go back and do that drawing another time.  The kids had colored pencils and sometimes were able to use markers or paints.

Kids are used to drawing on single sheets of paper.  None of my kids had ever had their own art journal.  They loved it so much that they asked, week after week, when they could take their journals home with them.  I had given them an outlet that was all theirs-- that wouldn't be thrown out, that they could use to write or draw or dream in, that they could show off to their families and friends.

In order to make the journal more special than a random notebook, though, it's important for kids to make it their own.  And so we come (finally) to our first kid project....

Collage and the Journal


spiral bound mixed media journal (8"x10" or smaller)
1 piece of 60lb or heavier card stock at least as big as the journal
4-6  6"x6" pieces of patterned paper
glue stick


  1. Lay the cardstock paper on a flat surface and place the notebook on the edge of the spiral rings so that the paper is overlapping the three non-bound sides of the notebook.
  2. Trace around the cover on three sides.
  3. Cut out the cardstock cover.

  4. Tear apart the patterned paper into smaller pieces.
  5. Glue the pieces in place on the cardstock.

Personalize the Journal


Collaged (and dry) journal cover
Mixed Media Journal (from above)
dark marker
photos (optional)
glue stick
clear contact paper


  1. Tear a piece of the mixed media paper from the journal.
  2. Create name or monogram in bubble letters.  If the child does not know how to make thick letters, have him or her write their name/initials and then literally draw a continuous bubble around the stick letters.
  3. Cut out letters.
  4. Erase pencil lines.
  5. Watercolor the letters, keeping in mind that it will be added to the collaged page.  Colors should be pleasing to the child when together.
  6. When dry, glue letters and/or photographs on top of the collage.
  7. Glue personalized collage onto the journal's cover. 
  8. Lay out book cover in top of contact paper (keeping backing on) as done when measuring the card stock.  
  9. Cut contact paper about an inch larger than the coveron all three sides.  
  10. Cut two corners at an angle. 
  11. Remove backing of the contact paper and line edge up with inside edge of journal (next to spirals) so that contact paper overlaps a small line of the cover.
  12. Fold the top and bottom over to cover the edge of the cover.
  13. Fold the remaining edge to create a clean cover.
And now it's time to draw and paint and create!

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