Fold an Accordion Book

Ever since people began to communicate with each other, they've recorded events and thoughts in some way. In ancient times, people made drawings on cave walls and other natural surfaces. Around 3500 B.C., the Sumerians, who lived in Mesopotamia, developed a writing system on clay tablets. At about the same time, the Egyptians were working on Hieroglyphics, a writing method in which pictures were carved in stone or painted on papyrus. Other civilizations developed their own recording systems and materials, and in 868 A.D., the Chinese made the first known book.

The creation of handmade books is called book arts. As an introduction to this ancient craft, we'll learn how to make a simple accordion book in which you can write, draw, or display a collection of small items. Use it as a trip diary, for example, by combining your writing with small, flat souvenirs and keepsakes glued to the pages. If you recycle solid waste instead of using new or virgin materials to make the book, you'll help save landfill space and the natural resources and energy needed to make new goods.

You will need:


  • Mat board scraps
  • Scraps of plain and decorative paper
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick
  • Utility knife


How to:

The pages of this two-sided book actually are composed of one long piece of paper folded back and forth "accordion style". You'll need paper which is at least 24" to 36" long and 3" to 5" wide. Your local printing company or quick print shop are good places to obtain long scraps of preconsumer waste paper for this project.

To begin, fold the paper in half. Unfold, and then fold one side over so that the end touches this center crease, as shown. Repeat for the other side. Unfold and notice all the fold lines. Fold the left side over to the first crease or fold, and repeat this step for the right side, folding it over to the first fold on the right. Now unfold the paper, and fold the whole sheet back and forth in an accordion fold, as shown.

To make the book covers, cut two pieces of mat board the same size as the surface of the folded paper. For example, after folding a paper which measures 24" long and 5" wide, the surface will measure 3"x5". Have an adult cut the cardboard on a paper cutter or use a utility knife in combination with a triangle, T-square, or ruler to keep the corners square.

Cover each board with a decorative paper such as leftover gift wrap, comics, or scraps of wallpaper. To determine the paper's size, measure the book cover, and add one inch to the length and width. Cut the paper, and lay it face down. Apply glue to the mat board, and center it on the paper. Turn it over, and smooth out any wrinkles. Reduce the bulk at each corner by clipping the paper at an angle at least 1/4" from the edge, as shown.

Apply glue to the top and bottom ends of the paper. Fold over, smooth down, and tuck in the edges. Glue the side tabs, and fold over and smooth down. Repeat these steps for the other cover. Complete the book by gluing the end papers of the folded pages to the unfinished sides of the mat board.

Tips and Tricks:

If you prefer, you can hand decorate paper to use as a covering. See Wrap It Up for Chanukah! under Previous Activities for design ideas.

Compose a letter on the first two or three pages of your book and mail it to a friend or relative. Ask the person to answer on the next few pages. Keep the letter going till the book is filled. The last person to receive it gets to keep the book!

Translate your name to Hieroglyphics using the Hieroglyphic Typerwriter.

© 1997 Marilyn J. Brackney (updated 2018)

Volume 7 No. 1

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