Kids & Parenting

Bookmarks kids can make

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A bookmark
Kids can make bookmarks in any variety of sizes and shapes like giraffes, snakes or alligators
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A good bookmark does more than hold your place in a book.

Good bookmarks do more than keep your place between pages. Kids can make bookmarks that become keepsakes for friends and relatives. The following contains a basic technique and some ideas to get you started. From there, your kids will come up with their own super ideas. 

Basic Techniques

For bookmarks you need a piece of transparent contact paper. Look carefully at the package; translucent contact paper is not the same as transparent (sometimes labeled clear). Translucent paper leaves a cloudy surface. Clear paper lets you see to your kids' hard work. Cut two pieces of the contact paper a little larger than the finished bookmark.

Usually a bookmark measures approximately an inch wide by six-inches long. If you cut the contact paper two inches by seven inches, you'll have a margin for error. Make your bookmark, then sandwich it carefully between the two clear contact sheets, pressing down carefully and thoroughly to give your bookmark some extra strength and protection. Trim to leave a one-eight-inch margin.


White or colored cardstock or construction paper
Colored markers if your bookmark will carry a message
Baby ribbon
Small photos
Small-figured gift-wrapping or scrapbooking papers
Flat lace or lacy hemming tape
Stickers or gummed stars, seals, etc. 
Seasonal items
White school glue or a glue-stick.

Making Your Bookmarks

Decide with your child whether the bookmark will carry a message. If so, do the message first. If this is a budding heirloom for a grandparent, a message like I Love You, your child's name and the date are enough to fill one side of the paper. Cover the message with one piece of the contact paper, so nothing happens to the message when you decorate. 

Work out the decorative design on the other side without gluing, then tack everything down. Seal with contact paper and trim with regular or fancy scissors. 

Other Bookmark Instructions

If you are using seasonal items, they need to be dried first. Tiny fall leaves, little flowers and flat pieces of evergreen all make beautiful bookmark decorations. To dry put natural items between sheets of paper towel. Put the paper-towel sandwich between two telephone or other heavy books. Leave undisturbed for two or three days.

When you peel the towels apart your small natural treasures will have lost much of their moisture without losing their color. If petals are particularly fragile, you may need to practice a few times to get the best samples. Flowers and leaves need to be dried because, otherwise, moisture trapped by the contact paper will destroy them.

Using some of the same supplies, you can also make an animal-shaped bookmark that folds down over the page. While it may be tempting to go through coloring books and activity books to find the animal-shape and cut it out, you'll create a real treasure if you let your child draw the animal. That way, you're not just creating a picture of a giraffe, you're creating a snapshot of your child at a very particular age and time in his or her life.

Some animal shapes clearly work better than others like giraffe, snake, alligator, shark or flamingo. Any animal with a long narrow shape overall or a nice long neck. You're going to bend that neck or part of the long body close to the head to make your bookmark. Your animal's body can be parked anywhere in the book then folded down over page 23, where you stopped reading. 

Making this with your child gives you the fun of figuring out something together, because you're going to decorate the body of your animal on what we'll call the front side of the bookmark and then decorate the head on the back side. That way, when you fold the head down, you'll see decorations all over a single side. This project is especially fun with the six-and-under crowd who are still wrestling a bit with front, back, left, right and so forth. And the fold-over trick makes you look like the family magician!

Start with a piece of cardstock or construction paper three-inches wide and eight-inches long to give your artist room for a wiggly snake or all four giraffe legs. Draw a light fold line on both sides of the paper; your child can carry the stripes up to the line on the front side then past the line on the back side. Enclose your decorated animal in clear contact paper, then cut out the animal shape, leaving the small margin of contact paper all the way around the animal. 

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