I, Joy Kirr, am a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. My 7th grade ELA (English Language Arts) classes are working to improve their lives through student-directed learning - without marks throughout the year. This is a log of my learning experiences... Want to have me speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is my PORTFOLIO.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Crafting Bookmarks

One of the ways I take care of myself is by making things. (One of my many "genius hour" projects!) This summer, it's bookmarks for my students. I have one I've used for years that I adore, and it's getting faded, so I wanted to make another for myself. Well... I'm not one to stop at just one. Or three. Or seven. Looks like I've made 70 this summer! Eeek! Since I often have about 70 students (not counting homeroom), that works for me. The cost to me is about 50 cents each. Making them makes me happy, and I can listen to a podcast or a book for each step. I thought I'd write a post to help others who'd like to do the same. I'll also be sharing this with my students, should they want to make their own. (If they bring me their own choice of ribbon, I'll make them for them - or better yet - with them! It's something else to look forward to in the upcoming school year.)

Step 1: Supplies / Purchases...

          Magnetic bookmarksHere are the ones I purchased - they were $8.99 when I bought them. Check the link for the size. You  might be able to do this with strips of magnet instead. Let me know what you buy if it works out for you. The bookmarks are fine all on their own, right? However, you'd have to move the magnet each time you stop reading. With a ribbon, you can simply keep the magnet in place on the last page of the book and flip the ribbon where you need it, without losing it.

          Ribbon - I went to JoAnn's and purchased two to get another for free. I'd also use my coupons to get ones that didn't fit the sales. Hint: Bring a magnet with you to see that it's the size you want. "Too narrow" and "too wide" kind of actually work, but I like the ones that are 5/8 in (15 mm). Most of the typical rolls are 9 ft (2.7 m) and can make six to seven bookmarks if you cut them without mistakes.

          Fabric Glue


          Template - I created two cardboard strips to help me cut the ribbon. One short one - 2 3/4 in (7 cm) and one long one - 13.25 in (34 cm). Sometimes I just used my original bookmark that I love (and why I wanted to create more), and cut the ribbon to that size.

          Working Surface - I use the kitchen table and about three paper towels folded over (so I don't get glue on the table).

Step 2: Prepare the bookmarks

          Take the sheen/decoration off the magnetic bookmarks, so the ribbon has some place to stick. I'm not really sure if you need to do this, but I'm pretty sure. I also don't think they'd look as good if you left the design on the magnet. Here's a time-lapse video of me doing this to seven of them. (I like the number seven, and sometimes I can get seven bookmarks out of one roll of 9 ft ribbon.) This took me as long as it takes for my husband to take a shower (I forgot to time it, but it happened to be when he took his shower, so)...

Step 3: Prepare the ribbon

          Use your template to cut two lengths for each bookmark. Cut one short one - 2 3/4 in (7 cm) and one long one - 13.25 in (34 cm). I cut all of the spool at one time, and I make as many bookmarks as I can out of that spool at the same time (six or seven). You'll use the short lengths first.

Step 4: Glue the short ribbon... wait... then glue the long ribbon

          Glue the short end flush on one side of the edge you just took the decoration off of, then wrap this piece of ribbon across the mid-point of the bookmark. These are tricky to keep glued on, so you'll have to find a way that works for you. Sometimes I lay them flat, sometimes I prop them up like a tent, and sometimes I do one side and then the other. Just as long as you make sure the bookmark can close once it's glued, and that it IS glued, you'll be set for the next step. Let these sit for two hours before moving on. (Waiting for the glue to dry is hard for me to do, but it helps me practice patience.)

          Once you're sure the short end is glued on well and the bookmark can close, glue the long end on from the other end. You only need a straight line for this one (no bend needed), so just lay them flat for the glue to dry. Wait.

I lay them out like this, so I know which way to glue them. You might notice some short lengths are longer than the others. Ooops! No worries. As long as the short ribbon goes over the middle of the bookmark a bit, it should be fine.

Step 5: How to use the bookmark... 

Step 6: Read!

I'm hoping this gets my seventh graders reading even more than they might. I found a clever way to display/store them in the classroom... $4 on sale at JoAnn's, and I made my own cover. I hope to have a student who wants to replace my cover with a better one:

Added 1/22: Had to make more for winter... and then for February...