Students use basic bookbinding techniques to create a hardcover book.

Required Time

40 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 2 to Grade 10


Art Techniques



Crayola Washable Glue Sticks Crayola Construction Paper - 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm (9" x 12") - 2 pieces per student Crayola Marker & Watercolour Paper - 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm (9" x 12") - 6 pieces per student Crayola Scissors Waxed Dental Floss Sharp Sewing Needle - 1 per student Rulers Duct Tape Large Paper Clips - 4 per student Corrugated Cardboard - 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm (9" x 12") - 2 pieces per student

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CREATING A SIMPLE BOUND BOOK – Measurement, Form - Step One

Step One

  1. Work on a plastic placemat or smooth table.
  2. Cut a piece of duct tape twice the length of the cardboard.
  3. Roll one end of the tape under itself and stick it to the plastic placemat.
  4. Visualize a vertical line running from top to bottom in the middle of the tape.
  5. Place the 2 pieces of corrugated cardboard on top of the tape so that they are beside each other on either side of the centre line, and with a space about 1.25 cm between them.
CREATING A SIMPLE BOUND BOOK – Measurement, Form - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Tape the cardboard pieces together so that the tape wraps around both sides of the cardboard.
CREATING A SIMPLE BOUND BOOK – Measurement, Form - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Press the tape together along the centre.
  2. This will be the spine of the book.
CREATING A SIMPLE BOUND BOOK – Measurement, Form - Step Four

Step Four

  1. Stack the white paper onto the 2 sheets of coloured construction paper (these will be the endpapers).
  2. Fold the pile of papers in half short end to short end.
  3. Open the papers and paper clip the pile together.
  4. Place the clips on either side of the fold, top and bottom.
  5. Place the pile of papers on the desk with the construction paper facing up.
  6. Draw a line along the fold.
  7. Use a ruler to mark off 2 cm spaces along the line.
  8. Be sure you are working on the construction paper side. 
  9. Be sure these marks are exactly on the line.
CREATING A SIMPLE BOUND BOOK – Measurement, Form - Step Five

Step Five

  1. Place the pile of papers on top of a piece of thick sponge.
  2. Use a sharp darning needle to poke holes through the paper at the 2 cm marks.
CREATING A SIMPLE BOUND BOOK – Measurement, Form - Step Six

Step Six

  1. Thread your needle with a piece of waxed dental floss about twice as long as the width of the pages.
  2. Push the needle through the bottom hole on the construction paper side.
  3. Hook the end of the dental floss under the paper clip.
  4. Sew a running stitch in and out of the holes until you reach the last hole at the top of the paper.
CREATING A SIMPLE BOUND BOOK – Measurement, Form - Step Seven

Step Seven

  1. Flip the papers over
  2. Sew a running stitch in and out of the holes until you reach the bottom.
  3. Stop sewing when the last stitch at the bottom is on the coloured construction side of the papers.
CREATING A SIMPLE BOUND BOOK – Measurement, Form - Step Eight

Step Eight

  1. Tie the 2 ends of the dental floss together.
  2. Press the ends along the sewn line and towards the centre of the pages.
CREATING A SIMPLE BOUND BOOK – Measurement, Form - Step Nine

Step Nine

  1. Place the papers on your desk with the construction paper facing up.
  2. The stitching line is the centre of the paper and the line of symmetry.
  3. Completely cover one half of the construction paper with glue. 
  4. Make sure you do not leave any dry spots.
CREATING A SIMPLE BOUND BOOK – Measurement, Form - Step Ten

Step Ten

  1. Place the pages on the inside of the corrugated cardboard.
  2. Make sure the fold is on the centre of the taped spine.
  3. Carefully flatten the endpaper using a ruler to smooth away any bubbles.
  4. Start at the centre of the book and work your way out to the edges.
  5. There will be a space at the side of the book where the coloured paper does not cover the cardboard.
  6. Repeat this process on the other side of the pages.
CREATING A SIMPLE BOUND BOOK – Measurement, Form - Step Eleven

Step Eleven

  1. Your book is ready to use.

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • create a bound book;
  • measure accurately; 
  • demonstrate technical accomplishment.


Have students:

  • create a self-portrait for the cover of the book using a variety of materials and techniques, for example, by using the Inspired by Geoffrey Farmer lesson plan available on this website;
  • use the book as an artist's journal where they can explore a variety of techniques and ideas throughout the year;
  • teach a peer how to make the book.


  1. Place students into groups of about 6.
  2. Make kits for each group that include the tools needed to make the book, for example,
    - place sewing needles into a small piece of felt, and put it into an empty cd case.
    - rulers
    - scissors
    - glue sticks
    - waxed dental floss
    - paper clips
    - pencils
    - thick strips of sponge (e.g., cut a garden kneeling pad into strips)
  3. Precut the corrugated cardboard enough for each student to have 2 pieces.
  4. Place the construction paper into separate piles by colour.
  5. Place the duct tape into separate piles by colour.
  6. Prepare a sample of the book partially assembled for easy demonstration.
  7. Gather several types of books, for example, a hardcover picture book; a paperback book; a big, thick book; and a small, thin book.


  1. Ask students to share what kinds of books they like the best, and why.
  2. Show students the different books and discuss what is special about them.
  3. Focus on the hardcover picture book and talk about how it is constructed.
  4. Share a brief history of some of the interesting ways humans have made bound books in the past, for example,
    Somewhere around:
    - 100 BCE the first bound books were made in India by drying out palm leaves that had been split down the middle. The leaves were numbered and tied together with string.
    - 400 CE in Europe books were bound with covers made of wood covered with leather and jewels.
    - 550 CE in Syria metal was added to the covers of books.
    - 1250 the first bookbinding 'How To" book was written.
    - 1508 a type of cardboard was introduced for book covers instead of wood.
    - 1857 the first flap-style dust jacket, which is the same kind that is used today, was introduced in England.
  5. Ask students to think about how books have changed over the centuries, and how they are still changing. Think about why people might like to make handmade, bound books nowadays.
  6. Introduce the challenge. 


The Challenge

  1. Create a bound book.
  2. Measure accurately.
  3. Demonstrate technical accomplishment.

The Process

  1. Make sure everyone understands the challenge.
  2. Establish success criteria with your students, for example,
    I know I am successful when:
    - papers are folded smooth and flat
    - stitches are on the centre fold line
    - endpapers are glued smoothly in place
    - book is flat when closed
    - finished book is in good condition
  3. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  4. Observe students as they work. 
  5. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.


  1. Place students into small groups. 
  2. Ask them to: 
    - Share their work and discuss the things that are especially effective and why.
    - Talk about what they found satisfying about doing this project.
    - Talk about what was difficult about doing this project and how they solved the problem?
    - Talk about how they might use their bound books, and what more they might do to decorate them.
  3. Share ideas with the whole class. 


  1. Observe students as they work – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting
  2. Observe students as they discuss the books – active listening, insightful contributions, supporting ideas with evidence found in the artwork and from personal experience.
  3. Use a checklist to track progress. (Downloads – BoundBook_tracking.pdf)
  4. Have students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Downloads – BoundBook_self-assessment.pdf)