Creative Summer Activities for Kids: Make a Mini Book with One Piece of Paper

closeup image of a hand holding a small light green booklet that reads in yellow handwritten font "today will be a great day"

with Abby & Violet Houston

Violet and I are thrilled to share some hands-on ideas for getting little bursts of creative engagement into your daily routine while the kids are home on summer break. Our starter activity could be done at the breakfast table before the work day or in the evening after dinner over a glass of lemonade. The point is, when we spend even ten minutes focused on active creative engagement, it feeds our imagination and allows us to work on problem solving as we build strong connected relationships.

We all know how exhausting parenting can be – especially for those of us who work from home while entertaining our kids on summer break.  The creative prompts that Violet and I want to share are tried and true in our household with kids ranging from age 7-13. Most importantly, planning ahead of time prevents us from waking up (or returning at the end of the work day) and immediately getting onto screens to entertain us.

Getting Settled Into a Creative Routine

I often remind myself that when I’m settled and calm it reflects a more grounded presence for my family. Lazy summertime mornings can quickly turn sour if we don’t root ourselves in a creative practice at the onset of the day.  We like to engage in grounded activities that promote connection, creativity and play while also staying off screens. Reading books, playing lego and baking are all part of a recipe for a summer day, but one specific creative activity that we like to start off our day with is a Scribble Chase. 

Scribble Chase

image of two people's hands drawing scribbles on paper in a game of scribble chase, a summer activity for kids - one holds a blue colored pencil and the other holds an orange colored pencil

Try this quick scribble activity with a partner of any age.  Sit together with your child, sibling, parent or friend and each hold a different colored pencil or crayon.  Select a piece of paper large enough for both of you to work from. One partner is the “leader” and begins to draw an abstract continuous line. The other partner “follows” with their pencil and creates a line adjacent to the leader.  Think of follow the leader with art supplies. Build on this connection by adding crayon resist or water color paints. You can even swap roles to work on the other side of the page.

Calmly connecting via drawing/linework is an excellent way to ground yourself before a busy day of activities.  Once it’s dry you can move onto folding the paper into a mini book to expand your creative energy into (join us on our LIVE event on June 5th when we demonstrate this project!).  Remember that lines can be busy, curvy, calm, sharp or all of the above. Those marks on the paper often can serve as a conversation starter or a way to check in with your buddy. 

4 Ways to Expand on This Activity

  • Save your drawings and look for ways that you can turn the imagery into another piece of art
  • Color in the shapes to block out negative space with your favorite color scheme (this is a great time to introduce primary, secondary and tertiary color groups to kids)
  • Find a magazine with collage images to cut out and create a new scene using the abstract linework as your background
  • Grab a pair of scissors and cut up your work into geometric shapes that you can bend and fold then glue down onto another solid paper to create a collaborative 3D collage

Document Your Day in a One-Page Mini Foldable Book

image of a hand holding a small colorful handmade book with drawings of a coffee mug, rainbow, and trees, all documenting activities on a summer day

Sometimes approaching the writing or drawing practice pushes artists to focus too much on the mistake process and not enough on the process of building a habit of daily practice. By creating a hand folded one page mini sketchbook we will document our day one chunk at a time.  The stakes are low (and so is the surface area!). Make this activity collaborative by swapping tiny sketchbooks and adding to one another’s stories. Remember that we started our day with a Scribble Chase activity – you can even use that surface area to fold your one-page Mini Folded Book.  Process steps are below, and remember that THERE IS NO WRONG WAY TO DO ART!

Materials for Mini Foldable Book

  • Cardstock or copy paper
  • Pencils, pens, markers, or crayons
  • Scissors

How to Make a Mini Foldable Book

image of yellow piece of paper folded into eighths on a table with scissors
image of a piece of paper folded and cut in the center to make a mini book
image of a hand holding a folded mini book made of yellow paper

1 : Fold one piece of paper in half lengthwise then horizontally.  

2: Fold each horizontal side toward the middle to create 8 sections of paper.  

3: Cut along the middle line by folding the paper in half horizontally. 

4: Fold the paper into a 3D book that has 8 pages to draw onto! 

5: Now, get into your day. Set a repeating timer for 60 minutes. Each hour for the next 8 hours you can draw in your mini sketchbook for five minutes. This can be collaborative or done solo. You can include words, images, observations or something from your imagination. The idea is that every hour you’re coming back to your process to record something in a visual way. At the end of the day, have a salon of sorts where you share your creations with others in your group or family.

image of light blue mini folded booklet with yellow title that reads "Today will be a great day" on a work table with another folded painted card

We would love to see your projects!  Post them on IG and tag @Creativebug and @abbypainterart so we can share in your connection and collaboration.

Abby Houston is a Creativebug instructor and Portland-based artist who teaches, creates art and raises her three daughters. Watch Abby and Violet’s class Little Artists: A Course for Parent and Child.