Today I want to share some simple ideas for binding class books. Often binding is the step that feels time-consuming and difficult, causing teachers to skip the whole process entirely.
Here are 5 simple ways to bind student-created books in the classroom:
1- Binder Rings – I love binder rings. You can purchase them in a variety of sizes depending on the thickness of your book. I recommend laminating the front and back cover of your book before you punch holes for your rings. If you know the book is going to get a lot of wear and tear (like the “My Life in Pictures” collage book) then it’s wise to laminate the pages as well. In that case, I also attach hole reinforcers to the punched holes before I bind the book to prevent them from tearing.
When we publish oversize or “big books,” binder rings are always my go-to binding technique. You can even get them in fun colors!
2- Three Ring Binder – Anytime you create a book with 8 and 1/2″ by 11″ paper, you can assemble your book using page protectors and a 3-ring binder. I especially love the kind with a clear pocket on the front of the binder so I can slip a snazzy cover inside. 1/2″ binders are a great size for book binding and the page protectors work as a cheap/easy version of lamination to protect the student work. *Tip: Seal the top of each page protector with a small piece of clear tape to prevent the pages from falling out.
3- Folder with Prongs– This idea is similar to the 3 ring binder idea except that a folder is cheaper and a little less cumbersome (but also is a little less sturdy.) You can choose to insert the student writing/illustration in sheet protectors or you can simply hole-punch the pages and put them inside the folder’s prongs. To create a cover, I usually cut out a printed title and any illustrations and use clear packing tape to adhere them to the front of the folder. This is a super-easy way to quickly bind a class book!
* Tip: If you know a book is going to get a lot of travel from school to home, I’d go with the binder. However, if the book won’t be handled as much, a folder is a safe bet.
4- Staples and Duck Tape – Here is another super-easy, quick technique for book binding that ends up looking nicer than it sounds. Use a stapler to staple along the side of the book you want to bind. Three staples usually do the trick but I like to do a few more just to be safe. If you have a thick book, you will need a heavy duty stapler. I invested about $20 in a heavy duty stapler years ago and it was one of the best tools I ever added to my classroom.
After you staple the side of the book, choose a nice-looking duck tape (so many fun choices these days!) and wrap it around the binding of the book so it wraps both the front and back cover. Now you’ve covered the staples and given the binding a clean look. I love this binding technique! *Tip: Make sure the front and back cover are sturdy- I try to use card stock and sometimes laminate them as well.
5-Brads and Duck Tape – Remember brads? I hadn’t thought about brads since my own days in kindergarten until I saw another teacher using them to bind her student’s books. Brads are “old school” yet very effective. You can also get brads in a variety of lengths, based on the thickness of your book. I use the same steps as the stapler method above except that planning for the brad takes an extra step.
Use a ruler to make a faint pencil dot where you want your brads on each page. Then push your brads through your pages, using the brad’s pointy end to create a small hole. (You don’t want to use a hole-punch because it’s too big for the brad.) Once the brad is through all your pages, open the prongs wide behind the back cover and then cover them with a piece of duck tape. If you like the look of the brads, you might not want to cover them with the tape on the front. That’s up to you.
*Tip: If your paper is thick or laminated, you will need to punch a small home before inserting the brad. I have an awl (sharp hole-poking tool) that I like to use for this purpose. However, be warned that this tool is very sharp and is not for student use. It’s one of those “that thing could poke your eye out!” kind of tools. Nice to have when you need it, though.
Please notice that I didn’t even mention a Comb Binding Machine. Most schools keep one in the teacher’s workroom and I have bound hundreds of student books with this kind of machine. However, I didn’t include it on my list because I often find them finicky and frustrating. Usually when I try to bind student books with the binding machine, I end up saying bad words. However, if you have access to a cooperative binding machine, then you are a lucky duck and can add a 6th binding technique to your list.
*Tip: My son’s kindergarten teacher always put a strip of duck tape around the outside of the comb, overlapping the covers, to prevent the book from pulling apart. Very smart!
I’ve got one more post coming with a few more class book ideas… then we are on to puppets!
Do you have any easy binding techniques to share? If so, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!