The Current Logo

Make With Me

Written by Robert Puckett
July 29, 2013

Here, I’ll describe how to make daybooks using recycled snack bags for covers.  While you can use wallpaper, gift bags, old t-shirts, or have students design and print their own covers, remixing snack bag for daybook covers helps us think about package design, consider sustainability in making and marketing, and explore culture, health, and status associated with foods.  As I’ve worked through multiple iterations of this project, I’ve decided that it makes sense to have students make two daybooks:  one to keep as a personal daybook that is crafted from their favorite snack bag and one to release with a cover that is student-designed, printed, and related to the theme of the travelling daybook.   


Hammer, nails, block of wood, big plastic needles with large eye-holes, tape, glue (quick-setting such as contact cement), spray adhesive, rulers, cutting tools (x-acto, scissors, cutting wheel, paper cutter), ribbon or string, paper clamps, rubber bands, pencils, markers, cutting mat, mat board, paper, chip bags. 

Day One: Create Covers

Cut two pieces of mat board to 6″ X 9″ ( or.5″ larger than book pages). Clean chip bags with mild soap and water.  Dry, measure, and cut chip bag to 13.25″ X 10″ (or 1.25″ larger than the combined total width of both pieces of mat board and 1″ larger than the height of one mat board).  Fold bag in half to locate center line.  Measure over from center .125 on both sides of the line to create a .25″ spine.  Measure from top of bag down .5″ on both sides and draw a line across the top of the bag.  Repeat from bottom of bag to create reference lines for aligning the mat board.  Coat back of chip bag and one side of both pieces of mat board with brush-on glue (contact cement).  Allow to dry for a couple of minutes.  Now use reference lines to place mat board in position on chip bag. Trim corners to allow folding of excess chip bag (see slideshow diagram for detail.) Coat extra chip bag around edge with glue (contact cement) and coat .5″ margin of mat board with glue (contact cement).  Fold and adhere chip bag.  Smooth to seal.  Cut sheet of cardstock 12.25″ X 9″.  Paint inside cover of daybook and one side of cardstock with glue (contact cement).  Wait a few minutes, then adhere cardstock to inside cover of daybook.  Press smooth.  

Day Two: Assemble Book

Fold 25 sheets of 11″ X 8.5″ in half on the 11″ dimension.  Insert sheets into each other to create a 5.5″ X 11″ booklet.  Open pages up and clamp to book cover with large paper clamps.  Place book down on block of wood and nail three holes in the spine– one at the center, one 3″ above, and one 3″ below.  Nail through the paper, the daybook cover, and into the wood. Wiggle nails out and make sure hole is big enough for string or ribbon.  Sew paper into cover using a pamphlet stitch starting from outside the spine, threadding into the top hole, out through the middle hole, back in through the bottom hole, and back out the middle hole.  Leave extra string or ribbon for tying the short starter piece to a longer piece that you can wrap around the book at the middle hole.

Day Three:  Create Content

Students choose a theme and type a short narrative into a 5″ X 8″ document about an experience connected to that theme. They write fiction or creative nonfiction and pair with illustrations, photos, drawings and realia. Students share what they have written and give feedback to other students. They then create page layouts in Indesign (Publisher or open-source Scribus would work fine) to fit the pages of the physical book and typeset their entries. They use Photoshop or to scale their images to the size needed to fit their daybook. They then print their content with crop marks and trimmed the pages and glued them into their books. 

Day Four: Register Books on BookCrossing & Create Release Notes

Students create an account and log onto  Students register their books by title so they can track the daybook’s activity on the website.  Once they’ve registered the book, they receive a Book Crossin ID number (BCID #).  Students then write release notes that inform anyone who finds the book what to do with it.  This is procedural writing, so it is important to be clear and concise.  They consider this part of the book as an informational “why and how to” for a person who finds their book and review samples of release notes on the website and use them as mentor texts for writing their own. They include the BCID# in their release notes for tracking the physical daybook at the Book Crossing website.  After students finish entering all of the digital content to the website, they upload their narrative into BrookCrossing, print their release notes, journal entries (which is their narrative) and/or illustrations,photographs drawings to be place/glued into the physical book. 

Day Five:  Release

The next step in the process is to do a couple of controlled releases. The first was within the class. We put all of the book on a table and students were asked to pick a book and to write on the theme of the book and to log the entry on the BookCrossing website. For the second controlled release students were encouraged to share their books with a member of the faculty and ask them to log their entry. I advised the students that they may need to help their teacher with the process of entering the content and navigating the website. Next, students release their books into the wild.  They find others’ daybooks and begin the story-sharing journey by writing in others’ daybooks and uploading their entries, called journalling, on the Bookcrossing website.