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DIY Easy Coloring Books, Drawing Pads & Sketch Pads for Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes

DIY Coloring Books and Sketch Pads.  Sized to fit Operation Christmas Child GO shoeboxes.

I have had a hard time finding nice coloring books small enough to tuck easily into an Operation Christmas Child shoebox. I have often seen packers printing their own.  I've finally decided to take the plunge.  [I'll share the how-to's at the bottom
of this post.]

Handmade coloring book how to

Several months ago my daughter came across an easy way to add a cardboard backing to paper and I thought the technique would be perfect.  I also had dozens of pieces of large brown, heavy weight card stock on hand that works perfectly for the backing.  I have plenty of staples and glue, too.  The only thing I needed was the paper.

OfficeMax/Depot (whatever the new merged company is called) had cartons of paper for $29.99 get $20.00 back in MaxPerks rewards.  I had gift cards I had earned from earlier purchases so I was able to buy a carton for zero cash.  I think that should cover this year's shoeboxes (and maybe the next).  I will use the $20 back towards an ink cartridge.  So I will be making these for free.

Free Copy Paper for making coloring books

There are dozens of places online to find free coloring sheets to print.  And with such a large variety I can make them to match the theme of my boxes.  I save the picture to my computer, reduce the size, add two to a sheet leaving about 1" space at the top and print them.  Some of them are sideways in the book.  I am putting about 10 to 12 coloring pages and then at the back I am adding 10+ pages of plain paper.  The final product fits perfectly inside the bottom of an Operation Christmas Child shoe box.

We have always included lined (notebook) paper and unlined paper in our OCC shoeboxes. The unlined paper is usually in the form of a 6" x 9" pad.  After making a coloring book, my daughter suggested putting blank pages in the back. That gave me the idea to go ahead and make the sketch pads for the older kids.

I was trying to figure out how to add a nice cover to the coloring book and finally decided I'd just make a generic cover.  I also designed one for the plain paper pads for the older kids.  I included both words and illustrations -- so even if they don't speak English they will get the idea of what it is intended for.  We will include crayons with the Coloring Books, colored pencils with the Drawing Pads and hopefully some drawing pencils with the Sketch Pads -- if not at least colored pencils.

DIY coloring book cover.
2 to 4 year olds
DIY drawing pad cover.
5 to 9 year olds
DIY sketch book cover.
10 to 14 year olds

How To Make a Coloring Book or Sketch Pad


Printer & Ink Cartridge
Card stock (upcycled cereal boxes work, too)
Stapler & staples
Printed Coloring Pages (below are two sources -- but when Googled, lots of "Free Coloring Pages" come up)
  • Editing to add:  Crafting for Shoeboxes Colouring Pages
    • There are several all ready to print per age group of shoebox recipients.
    • She also has images of two other ways to use them.
    • They are ready to print on UK or US standard paper sizes.
      • Be sure to find the correct ones you need on the list.
  • Twisty Noodle -- lots of worksheets, too
  • Educational Coloring Pages -- lots of themes and learning sheets, too
Step 1:

Prepare 24 individual sheets to include in your book (this is how many I found I could staple in with the heavier cardstock -- you may want to experiment and see how many you can include).

For Coloring Book:
  • Save the images to your computer.
  • Using the computer program of your choice insert the images two to a page leaving 3/4" border along one of the 11" sides -- this will be the top.
  • Design a cover page or use mine if you'd like to.
    • Print two to a sheet leaving 3/4" along 11" top side for stapling.
  • Print pages.
  • Cut in half (I added a light grey line to mine to cut along).
  • If you want some blank pages at the back cut those in half, too.
For sketch pads:
  • Design a cover page or use mine if you'd like to.
    • Print two to a sheet leaving 1/2" along 11" top side for stapling.
  • Cut paper & cover in half.

Step 2:
Upcycle Cereal Boxes.
  • Cut card stock 5 3/4" x 10 1/2" (this will be big enough for a small edge to show around all sides -- I am hoping this gives some protection to the edges of the papers.

Step 3:
  • Fold down the narrow, top edge of the card stock 3/4" and crease.  You will be folding towards the FRONT of the piece.
  • Fold over again on itself and crease well.
  • Open it back out.

Step 4:

  • Lay the stack of cut sheets, with the cover sheet on top, FACE DOWN on the BACK of the card stock piece--the side that the folds fold AWAY from.
  • Center the stack lining up the top with the top edge of the card stock.  All other sides will have a little card stock showing around them.
  • Staple in three different places, including the center near the edge.  Be sure to stay within 1/2" of the edge.
    • This holds the pages in place
  • Flip the book over

Step 5:

  • Using the first fold as a guide staple two times close to fold.

This shows how the "double fold" folds back over itself.
Step 6:

  • Apply glue on card stock between folds and down almost another 3/4"
  • Fold the card stock on the first crease over the staples--fold it up over the glue, not the glue down over it or your other glue will be on the table :-) .
    • If you want you could just put glue on the first part and after folding it glue the second part.
  • Press firmly.
  • Fold over again.

Step 7:

  • Press flat and place something heavy on it while it dries.  I have also used clothes pins to hold it while it dries.

When packing it in the shoe box, place it on the bottom with the pages down -- this will protect them from getting "dog-eared."

These are perfect for making themed coloring books for your Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. They also would be nice to make with learning sheets: math, matching, letters.  I hope you find many uses for these simple to make pads.

Looking for more easy crafts for your shoeboxes?  Check out the dozens we have published all listed in the Crafting for Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes Index.


Unknown said...

Such a great idea and a great charity! I like how you could print your own pics so could do based on a theme or holiday or for specific ages. Thanks for linking with our Creative Craft Challenge!

Denise Marie said...

love this idea!!

I agree it is hard to find them the way I want them. Customizing makes a lot of sense.

Kelly @ Mum-bo-Jumbo said...

This is a great idea. I love how it is so easy to custom for your children and also for different holidays! Stopping by from the Craft Challenge Creative Link Party

Susan for Shoeboxes said...

I have done this for my boxes. I chose to use two prong folders (gotten cheaply in back to school clearance). The folder bends slightly on bottom of box. I found free coloring page sites too. For the older kids I searched designs they can color. (I don't recall the exact name but they are geographic shapes all connected and they can color them any way they want.) sometimes I printed double sided to save paper. I made my own front covers too. I didn't do as many as I wanted last year, perhaps I can do more this year. The paper is not a problem and I have a commercial paper cutter.

Cheryl @ Simply Shoeboxes said...

Susan, I like your idea of the three prong folders--I'll see what I can find next year during back to school sales.

Crafting for Shoeboxes said...

Thank you for adding our new blog page to your post, Simply Shoe Boxes - and for adding us to your Blog Roll :-)

genealogyangel said...

I also have printed coloring pages, 2 to a sheet, and plan to attach them to a small clipboard (I find them at Target and Staples) OR for some I will make a clipboard out of corrugated cardboard covered with patterned paper, and attach the pages with a simple clip. That way the child can easily remove each page, and will have a clipboard for later.

genealogyangel said...

I should add to my previous comment, that I found online a coloring page that had a box of crayons and several crayons, a picture to color that can serve as the first page.

Sarah said...

I love the clipboard idea!!

CindyB said...

I'm sorry to be a party-pooper, but unless you have permission from Hello Kitty we are not allowed to use those images in a coloring book. This opens us to the liability issues, I don't think they're going to care that this is for a good cause.

Sarah said...

Thanks for the comment CindyB, yes, copyright is something important to consider, and we try to be very careful about that! In this case, the coloring pages came from: http://educationalcoloringpages.com/hellokitty.html and were for people to print their own to use, so I'm assuming they did have permission to share them/us to use them.

Anonymous said...

For the older kids I print how to draw pages. Then also include blank paper. I found free how to draw pages on the internet.

Sarah said...

Sending drawing instructions is such a fun idea!

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