This post was originally written as a guest post on the blog Minds in Bloom.
Hi! It’s Melissa from Peas in a Pod. I am currently in my 11th year of teaching. I’ve taught kinder – 8th, thanks to a few combo classes. Writing is one of my favorite subjects to teach! There are so many ways to make it fun. Today I’m going to guide you through personalizing super cute DIY journals with pencil holders!
Learning how to organize our thoughts on paper can be hard! Writing can turn into a chore. Because of past difficulties, many students just shut down at the mere idea of it.
These easy DIY journals can help reluctant writers get excited about their ideas again. After creating their own journals, students become more invested in what goes in them. It’s personalized and belongs to them, inside and out. For this reason, I like to use them for poetry and personal journaling. Feel free to check out my Peas in a Pod Store for more dynamic writing ideas and resources.
What you’ll need:
Notebooks (not spiral bound)
½ of a straw (I have found the fatter straws for smoothies work the best. I also recommend testing different straws with the pencils you have available to make sure you’ll have a nice fit.)
Wide Washi Tape or Duct Tape (It’s nice to have a few color / design options for students to choose from.)
- Cut the straw in half or to the desired length.
2. Cut 1 piece of duct tape 1 inch longer than the straw. Fold over the top end of tape. Place straw on the tape, lining up the folded end with the top of the straw, leave the bottom end of the tape extending beyond the straw.
3. Align the straw on the binding of the book and tape. Be certain to have the folded tape facing the top and secure the tape that extends below the straw to the book. This will keep the pencil from falling out of the bottom of the holder.
4. Attach more tape from top to bottom of the spine on both the front and the back.
BOOM! You have a notebook with a handy dandy pencil attached!
If you are so inclined, you can further personalize it with artwork or a wordle (wordle.net). It’s a free program that creates art from typed words. You can have students use words that describe themselves, or better yet, use positive words their classmates have used to describe them!! To attach the art, simply use clear contact paper and fold it over the edges. (If you chose to add artwork, I would suggest using the contact paper to secure it to the journal first. Then, follow the taping instructions above, so the tape will secure that edge of the contact paper.)
These notebooks are blank slates just waiting to be turned into interactive notebooks, daily journals, or math notes that correspond to each daily lesson. They become so much more than just a notebook. They are special. When I use them to teach poetry, I systematically guide students through many different forms: rhyming poems, non-rhyming poems, Haiku, Cinquain, and Limericks. After practicing each type, these journals are the perfect place to write down our final drafts.
*A note of warning: Tape, especially wide tape, can be trickier than it looks. In 4th – 6th grades, I would recommend constructing these notebooks with students in small group rotations, so you are available to help those with less “tape experience”. In grades 1st -3rd, I suggest bringing in a parent volunteer. After a whole class demonstration, the volunteer could then call the students over one by one to help them construct their notebooks.
I’d love to know how you see yourself using these notebooks. Do your students love them as much as mine? I would love to hear all about it. Happy Teaching!
You can find more in my ~ Peas in a Pod ~ Teachers Pay Teachers store. I’m also on Instagram @peasinapodlessons, Pinterest, and have a Facebook page, too! I like talking about new projects and creative ideas! I’d love to see you there.