"Nana, but did you make me anything special?"

My consuming passion for the past month has been creating  a quiet/busy book for Jordan's children. I have been gluing, cutting, coloring, riveting, and searching for specialty items for weeks. I finished it in time for my trip to Utah and was excited to give it to the children. On Sunday, Hayden worked his way through the entire book-- there are about 17 different activities-- taking nearly  an hour.  He enjoyed it, but when he got finished, he looked at me and said, "Nana, but did you make me anything SPECIAL?"

Special or not, here are some ideas to make a busy book of your own. Since this one was for the kids to take to church, most of the pages are scripture or gospel based. Yours doesn't have to be. They emphasize counting, matching color and shape, letter identification, fine motor skills and coloring. Many of the pages came from a children's magazine (The Friend) that I had saved for many years. Also, many of the activity can be found at their website (This is a magazine from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but many of the activities are suitable for all Christian faiths.)The Friend activity pages. I also used folder games from a website called Mormon Chic .   You can also create pages on your own.

To get started: find activities that your children would enjoy. Each activity will probably consist of a background page and pieces. Print out the pages and pieces on or glue the pages to  cardstock. In order to make mine stronger,  I cut out the pieces and glued them (glue stick or spray adhesive) to old file folders. Then I cut them out and laminated them with my Xyron 900.  A problem I have encountered with the laminating film from the Xyron is that it is too slick for things to adhere to it. Since I was using sticky back  Velcro to attach everything, I roughed up the back surface of each piece with an emery board. It only takes a few strokes. You can also used "clear" Contact paper, but it isn't really clear. There are other laminating options at office or craft stores. You can also have things laminated for you at office stores.

(Lessons I learned in the process: Make sure you glue things together really well! Some of my things started coming apart, so I ended up using transparent tape to seal them back together after they were laminated. Also, don't trim your laminating film too close. I know it looks better, but they will last better if there is an 1/8" or so around them.)

I slipped each paged into a glossy page protector and applied sticky back Velcro  to attach the pieces. I am going to tape the top of each page shut so that the pages don't slip out.

What to do with all those pieces: I used transparent vinyl I purchased from a fabric store (the sales slip was still on it. I got it in 1998!) to create pockets for each set of pieces. Just figure out the size you will need to fit your pieces. Double the length and then add about 1 1/2" for a flap. (Ex: If you need a pocket 5" wide and 6" long, cut your vinyl 5" wide and 13 1/2" long.) Fold the bottom over to create the 5" x 6" pocket with the flap extended. Set your machine to a wide zigzag stitch and sew each edge about 1/4" from the edge. Reinforce the ends of each seam by backstitching. Use Velcro to create a closure.

A word about Velcro. There are lots of choices. I selected transparent sticky back circles. (40 sets in a pack for about $5.00 at Walmart) I cut each circle in half. I also got some white sticky back Velcro that I used when it didn't matter if it showed. Make sure you match the placement of the set on the piece and on the background pages.

I decided on the order of my pages and then figured out where the pocket should go. Some are right on the activity page, others are before, but most are on the back of the page. I varied the placement (top, middle or bottom) on the page so that the bottom of the book wouldn't be too thick. I attached them with a heavy duty packaging tape so they are very secure.

Some pages needed more durability than glue or tape. For these I used eyelets and or brads. The drawback to this is that you can't use the back of the page for anything else.

One great addition that I found was Dry-Erase crayons. I included a set of those so that the children can complete a maze page and color on the coloring pages. They can also draw on the back of the notebook. The crayons can be purchased at Michaels and other craft stores for about $5 for a set of 8. They color smoothly and wipe right off with the mitt that is included.

I used printed scrapbook paper to create a stormy background for Jonah and the whale puppets.

I used Brooke's Cricut to cut out these shapes for matching.

These are the pages I created: 

1. I Feel My Savior's Love—matches numbers to objects
2. In the beginning—shape and number recognition
3. Treasures of a happy life—threading "jewels" on a shoestring, also a lock and key
4. Noah's Ark
5. Dress the Bear (several outfits from MormonChic)
6. The Birth of Jesus (flannel board story)
7. Remember Jesus Wheel
8. Animal matching game
9.  Healthy food—choosing healthy food out of the "fridge"
10. Jonah and the Whale puppets
11. A child of God—adding eyes, noses, and mouths to create faces
12. Color matching (children's clothes to chairs)
13.Family Tree
14. Flower Garden
15. Shape Matching Game
16. Coloring pages (2)
17. Letter recognition cards with stories of the prophets on them.


Just Jaime said...

Totally impressed with the busy book! You took it to a whole new level and I thought it was pretty special=)

Brave Brooke said...

Hey when I looked at it, it kept me entertained and quiet! A tip for sewing vinyl on the sewing machine is to put a piece of clear tape on the underside of the foot so it stays slick!

Unknown said...

This is a totally fun idea! I think it's pretty special, too. :)

Jordan McCollum said...

It is amazing! Thanks, Mom.

Heather Landry said...

That is sooo cool and very special! Really awesome idea to keep the kiddos busy in church.

thid coull chick said...

oh this is awesome!! what a great idea!!

Nora said...

Very cool idea! I will have to make something like that for my godchildren!

Staci said...

Very cute idea! :-)

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