diy {a boy’s art journal}

I am on the ball this year – at least with one gift. I have this hope that my kids will love to draw, but usually they’d rather sword fight. In the past I have bought blank journals for them to fill and this usually peaks their interests more than construction paper. This year I am giving the older boys art journals that are customized just a bit. It is hard to find ideas for boy gifts that are handmade. Girls are easy. Boys, not so much. Here is what I made:


* A blank journal. I got mine at Barnes & Noble. For my boys it is easier if they can flip the cover completely over. The bound book type of journal frustrates them when it keeps closing on them.

* Wood grain contact paper (which you if you made these, you might have it one hand too)

* Letter stickers

* Blank notecards

I made this up as I went along so I don’t have any exact measurements.

These instructions aren’t the best, but hopefully the pictures will help.

Step 1: Lay contact paper under the journal to decide what size you want it. Cut sides to determine how ‘big’ you want the front pocket to be. Fold the center section over. This will create a pocket on the front. Cut off small edges.

Step 2: Flip journal over. Peel off backing of remaining contact paper and fold sides over to make it all stick. Pull it tight when you fold it over so the pocket in the front isn’t loose. Add stickers for initials.

Step 3: In the front pocket I added some drawing prompts. For my 4 year old I wrote out some of his favorite characters and books. For my six year old I copied text from some of his favorite books. The idea is that they will select one prompt from the front cover of the art journal and then draw what is on the card. For mine most of the prompts involve something dangerous, disgusting or dirty. I imagine if you girly this up for the opposite gender your prompts might be quite different.

I did flip mine over to see if the paper would fall out. It didn’t. I imagine if you put a lot in the front pocket or thick items it would eventually stretch out and make it loose.

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  • Hollie - Genius! I will make one of these for my son for Christmas. I love handmade and it is harder to find things for him / boys in general.

  • Rebekah Jean - I love this! That wood grain paper is really cool and I love the way you used it on those journals. It’s fun and just manly enough to work for boys! =)

  • The Prairie Hen - Dear On The Ball,
    What a lovely idea! My kids ADORE art projects and drawing so this would be perfect for them. I love the thought of adding a few paint chips for some color. My turkeys are always snatching a handful when we visit the hardware store— highlighting their favorite colors of the moment.

    Something like this might even inspire me to break out the drawing pencils myself.

    “How was your day dear?”
    “What did you get done?”
    “—is that a horse?”
    “No! It’s Felicity in the yard swing, trailing her bare toe in a bed of roses. I would think that’s pretty obvious! A horse!?”
    “Ummmmm, yeah. What was I thinking?—— What’s for supper?”

    Cuttin’ N Pastin’ in NE

  • amanda torres - Props to the prompt idea! So great for drawing a future writings! Love it.

  • Danielle - Awesome Idea!

  • tasha roe - super fun idea!!

  • ella - I love the use of veneer vinyl. I just picked up some the other day and I was thinking what to do with it….
    Thanks for the inspiration ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Tracey - Oh my goodness, I just had to comment because the sight of that little Archie’s glass brought back so many memories! I had that growing up!

  • Heather - cute! where’d ya find the contact paper?

  • Jen - This is perfect for my son. Thank you for the great ideas.

  • Anna - what a great idea! i agree…there are never any good diy ideas for boys…so sad! ๐Ÿ™

  • Katie @ explanation required - So incredibly fun! I can’t wait until my little one is a little older and able to “journal” like this!!

  • elizabeth - Thank you-Great Idea! I totally agree about the lack of handmade “big boy” gifts. I would be so appreciative of more of your great project ideas ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Elizabeth - My son loves to draw…one of the series of books my children always loved was the Doodle books…your boys might like them…they are doodles that are started..but not finished..there are lots of different books….check them out…

  • Stephanie - Great Idea. Boys are difficult. I have 2 nephews and I’m glad I have 4 girls.

  • graceybug - Love this idea! I agree that finding stuff to make for boys is hard. I think this might be the new cover for my son’s school journal that holds his thoughts & has his reminders (behavior wise) in it.

  • jessica h - agreed–great craft gifts & sewing projects for boys are few and far between compared to those for girls! Instead of wishing for a girl to shower with homemade goodness, I should get on the ball gettin’ creative for my boys! If you have any other ideas (especially for littler tots), please do share! This one was great, especially the prompts–they’ll love them I’m sure!

  • Shoshana K - That’s hilarious! I bought the same exact sketchbook because it was such a good price. I use mine for collages and inspiration but is there any way you can do another makeover, but a girls version? But not for little girls. More for young adults? I was wondering what to do with it because plain black is too boring…

  • peta - I love this! what a creative idea. i might make something similar to this for the children in my class next year.

    Can i ask about the lego book please? my son would appreciate a book like this.

  • handmade ideas. - […] now for my little dude the star wars love runs thick and deep so I know if I have any chance of him taking a second glance at what I made Star Wars would have to be incorporated somehow. one of my go to craft sites helped me out. she has some star wars lovin’ boys herself and came up with this diy boys art journal. […]

  • Helen + Bill + Mirys from Brazil - Excelent Xmas presents!!!!!

    You and your brilliant ideas…

    Kisses and blessings.