Sunday, March 23, 2014

Cardstock Busy Book

I've posted these books on a couple other sites and I usually get good feedback.  I wanted to make one of those amazing felt quiet books.  They're so cute and fun.  I had some ideas and started making a list of materials, then listed what my process would be.  It seemed so daunting.  So time-consuming.  I thought about it and tried to figure out a way to make one without all that effort.  I realized that I didn't care if it was quiet or not, I just wanted some fun activities for the kids.  I decided to put my new Cricut to use and make a card stock version.  I suppose you could print out all the letters and pictures, then cut them out if you don't have a machine
to do it for you.  You'll also need a thermal laminator (I got mine at Walmart for $25).  They sell sheets that you don't need the laminating machine for, but I can't vouch for the sturdiness of those.  Here is the list of materials you will need.  The amounts will depend on what you decide to do for your pages.  Try to come up with a game plan first, so you're not running back to the store for more supplies.  The basic idea is that there is an activity glued to the pages and shapes that are laminated and need to be put in the right place.  Sometimes I use a pocket, sometimes I just have them taking up space on the side of the page. 

Chipboard Book - $8 at Hobby Lobby using the 40% coupon on the app. Get the one that is a binder with removable pages.  I've used the one that's like book binding and it is very difficult to let it dry without touching anything.
Cardstock - About 15 or 20 standard sized pieces in assorted colors.
Velcro circles - $5-7 for 80 pack at Walmart
Mod Podge - $4-8 (you will only need about 5 oz.)
Spray Acrylic Sealer - $7ish, I use Mod Podge brand, you will not need much
Laminating Sheets - $5 at Walmart (you will only need about 4 of the 5x7 sheets)

This seems like an expensive project.  For me it was not.  I already had everything except the book and velcro dots, so I spent about $15.  Also, for most of the items you won't use the entire pack or bottle.  I always use the 40% off one item coupon at Hobby Lobby or Michael's.  I go in some times when I pass by and just purchase one item that I know I'll need later.

Let's Do This:
1) First, I sketched out each page.  I actually removed one of the chipboard pages because I wanted to be able to close the book.  The more pages, the more velcro dots, and the thicker it is. So, I got some paper, sketched the pages on the left side and listed out exactly what I would need to cut on the right side: shape and cartridge, color, size, quantity.  This made the cutting process more efficient because I was able to cut the same colors and cartridges at the same time by just looking at the right column.  Look online for great page ideas.  Here is a link to an album with all my pages in my first book.  I also made a second book for the baby so she wouldn't destroy big brother's book.  Here is the link for that one.  Of course it depends on the child, but some some standard pages would be shape matching, counting or number matching, letters, maybe something with animals, etc etc etc.
2) Next, I cut out all the shapes.  This is definitely the most tedious, time consuming part.
3) Glue the layers together that need to be assembled so all your shapes and characters are ready to go.
4) Glue the necessary shapes onto the chipboard, then Mod Podge over the entire page. You'll do all the right sides first so it can dry completely before you flip the pages over.
5) Once dried (give it a full 24 hours just to be safe), spray with the acrylic.  Give it at least another 12 hours to dry.
6) Flip the pages over, glue everything on, Mod Podge, dry, acrylic spray, dry.
7) Place the velcro circles on the pages wherever they go.
8) While all this drying is going on you can laminate and cut out the other shapes.

That's all there is to it!  It is very easy, though can be a little tedious to place the letters and glue them all down.  I completed the project in about a five days, usually working for one or two hours each night.

Some tips:
- Look at your cartridges first to help get an idea of what kind of pages you should make.
- Cater it to your child's age and interests.  My daughter is younger so I made her pages easier for her skill level.
- Make sure everything is 100% dry before putting the book back together.  I rushed mine and the pages stuck together a little bit.  I re-did the sealer and let it dry completely, and never had the sticking problem again.
- Don't skip the sealer!  Mod Podge alone is too tacky and your pages will stick together.
- I made the mistake with the first book of not using a shadow for the letters.  It's not so bad in person, but if you notice on the pictures the titles are a little hard to read.  So I suggest using a shadow for all letters.
- For the pieces that will be laminated, it's much easier (when cutting them out) to glue the shapes to a circle or square background.  I didn't, and it's difficult and time consuming to cut out the intricate shapes.  Also, the thick lamination leaves more jagged edges if there are lots of corners and crevices.  It's nothing threatening to the kids, it just doesn't look as polished.  Another advantage to this is a more uniform look for the pieces.

Here is my youngest playing with her book today, which is 6-months of use.  If you notice, the pages have started to curl from the corners.  This is another reason why I highly recommend using the book with the binder rings.  It doesn't have paper glued to the chipboard so there is nothing there to get worn and start peeling.  This book-binding one was a hassle to work with.  But the munchkin likes it, so it's all good!

This is my first tutorial, so any questions about materials or technique are welcome!  In the future I plan on doing the tutorial as I make it, so I can take better process pictures.


  1. This is super cute. Another useful thing to do with misc. shapes and kids is to cut out a bunch on a theme, get some construction paper and a glue stick, and do collages.

    1. Thank you! That's a great idea. I like doing little projects for holidays but don't want to spend a fortune buying stuff. I think I'll start whipping up simple little activity pages with holiday themes.

  2. I found your blog via Pinterest, and I LOVE your cardstock busy book! I will have to keep this in mind for the next book I make for my little one. Thanks!

    1. Thank you for the feedback! This is by far my favorite project.

  3. Love your books. Where did you get the bear and clothes and other such items you used?

  4. omg.. such an amazing book you made. thank you for the tutorial. wil start searching for the things needed <3

  5. I am assuming when you're talking about "cartridges" and whatnot...this has something to do with some sort of equipment I don't own. What is it?

  6. Hi , it is a great idea

    Can you make 2 books of it I will pay you I am KG teacher