DIY Kids Coloring Book From Junk Mail

6 Materials
30 Minutes

Upcycle junk mail and old kid's magazines to make a Junk Journal style coloring book to keep them occupied! This is a great boredom busting activity. The kids can help making it and then have fun colouring in it!

Use things you have at home to make a fun coloring book to keep the kids busy!

This tutorial is all about how to reuse the envelopes from your post, junk mail or otherwise and turn them into a junk journal style coloring book for kids, personalised with their favourite characters!  

Here are the materials you need:

  • Envelopes
  • Thin cardboard wrapper roughly the size you want your finished book to be. (I used a rectangular chocolate bar wrapper that was made of cardboard).
  • Embroidery thread
  • Large Sewing Needle
  • Scissors
  • Mod Podge 
  • Magazine cut outs of the kids character of your choice 
Cut your cardboard cover to size

I used the cardboard wrapper from a large dark chocolate bar as the cover of my colouring book. I cut it at one side and removed the excess flaps so that I just had a front and back cover and the spine. Mine was a thin rectangle that was a bit smaller than the envelopes I used for the pages but you could use a cereal box or something larger and cut it to exactly the shape you need.

Even if you’ve signed up for paperless bank accounts and bills you still inevitably receive lots of junk mail in these white envelopes (designed to make the inside look more important than it is!). These are what I collected to use for my junk journal colouring book project. I also used one that had some red on it just for a bit of interest. You can play around and use whatever type of junk paper you have. The important points are:

  • make sure there is still enough blank space on the paper or envelope you are using so that it can be effectively used to colour or write notes.
  • The paper should be large enough that you can fold a seam for the spine of the book – see below.

I cut the raggedy tops off my envelopes, then cut the remaining part to fit my cover. I also opened the seam at the sides but not at the bottom of the envelope.

If you are using envelopes like I did you will likely end up with parts of the clear address window still included. I think it adds to the recycled charm of it all but if you don’t then you could try using other types of junk mail instead of the envelopes.

Binding your coloring book

Here is how to bind your junk journal coloring book:

  • Open up all of the envelope pieces and your cover as if you were looking at the middle page of the book.
  • Double up some embroidery thread on a large sewing needle and double knot one end.
  • Start threading by piercing through all of the paper and cardboard with your needle at Point A in the image above.
  • Follow the arrows and thread outside the cover to point B, then pierce through to bring your thread back to the inside and make another hole very near your first one back at A.
  • Thread outside to point C making your last hole to bring your thread back in and tie it to the thread back at A to finish off.
  • Snip off loose ends.

There are some more photos below to help illustrate.

You could stop here and have a usable junk journal notebook or coloring book, but I went on to decorate mine with kid's magazine cut outs of my nephews favourite characters from Thomas the Tank Engine.

Decorate your coloring book

I’ll admit it – I buy too many kids magazines for my son. He makes the eyes and he gets one. But for this project I convinced him to let me cut up some of the ripped pages to decorate this ‘colouring book’ for his cousin who is as mad for Thomas the Tank Engine as he is!

 I used mod podge to create a little Thomas collage on the front and back cover. I put a bit of cardboard in between the cover and the rest of the junk journal pages while it was drying, just to make sure they didn’t stick together.

Start Coloring!

The only thing left to do is set the kids to colouring!  

I gave this junk journal colouring book alongside these  upcycled personalised name crayons as a bit of a colouring set gift for my nephew Nate.  

You'll find lots more crafts and upcycling projects to keep the kids busy on my blog Upcycle My Stuff.

Resources for this project:

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Kristen Hubert
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

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3 of 17 comments
  • Evangeline Tomlin Evangeline Tomlin on Mar 24, 2020

    With COVID 19 out there, spray your cardboard and papers w lysol before you give them to the children. The virus lives on cardboard for 24 hours otherwise.

    • Kristen Hubert Kristen Hubert on Mar 25, 2020

      Thanks for the tip! This was written before all of this so I hadn’t thought of that!

  • Paige Mull Paige Mull on Apr 06, 2020

    Hello Friend,

    What a cute idea. Good way to up-cycle all that junk mail too. I love junk journals! They can be simple or very embellished. Thank you for sharing this idea. Stay safe and well!