diy {notebooks & crayons…to Haiti with love}

When Chris travels the hardest part for me is being the one to stay and not the one to go. His trip to Haiti was no exception – I wanted to go. Since ‘going’ wasn’t the option I had, I wanted to make the most of the opportunity with my kids in regards to them feeling a part of the trip. We have talked daily with the oldest two about what has happened in Haiti and what continues to happen. They have seen pictures. They have heard stories. They wanted to do something too. Since Chris didn’t have much room in his bags to take anything other than medical supplies we had to keep our items small and few. The boys wanted kids in Haiti to be able to color and draw….which I think is also a wonderful way for children to cope amid devastation. So we made little notebooks with crayons attached. Here’s how we did it:

Our supplies – notebooks, crayons, scrapbooking paper, glue stick, 1/4 inch elastic

Step 1: Cover the front of the notebooks. You could leave them as is, but I wouldn’t ever do that for a gift here so I wasn’t about to do it for a gift to be sent….I wanted them to be cute!

Step 2: The boys colored and wrote notes on the first page of each notebook. Biggest Brother wrote, “I love you.” on all of his.

Step 3: Make an elastic band to wrap around the notebook. I cut 2 pieces of elastic (one shorter, one longer). On the longer piece I marked it with a pencil every 1/2 inch, on the shorter piece I marked it every 3/4 inch. Then I sewed the elastic together at the marked spots (shorter piece on top). Finally I sewed the ends of the long piece – forming a band. I know that is not very technical, but I winged it and this is about as good as my instructions can get. Just play with your’s until it fits right!

Step 4: Slide in your crayons. The boys did this and picked what colors to go with each notebook.

Since ours were going to Haiti we wrapped each one in a plastic baggie. The rainy season will soon hit Haiti, hopefully these will help the kids keep their notebooks dry.  I also chose crayons since they don’t have to be sharpened and unlike markers they won’t grow dry.

About a week before Chris left Biggest Brother came home with a 100 Day hat from school. I guess each day of school they put a sticker on their hat, then on the 100th day of school they had a big party. Biggest Brother told me not to throw it away (b/c I throw everything away) and that he wanted to keep it forever. Well the day before Chris left Biggest Brother came to me and said, “Mommy I want daddy to take my hat to Haiti to give it to a boy there. I think that would make another boy really happy.” So the hat went to Haiti….and I cried seeing this picture.

When Chris first posted it on his Twitter I called Biggest Brother to come see it. I thought he’d get real excited about it, but he just stood staring at the computer. Then after about 45 seconds he got a sheepish grin and said, “Mommy, it feels really good to give stuff away.”

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  • Tricia @ SweeterThanSweets - I love the sentiment of this post!

    I featured it on my blog today:
    Food and Games To-Go (Road Trips with Little Ones)

    Feel free to promote to your friends and fans, too!

  • Nike@ChooseToThrive - I love this on some many levels! Wonderful project, wonderful outreach, wonderful pictures!

  • A New Box of Crayons | From My Window - [...] made a batch of these cute crayon-holder notebooks (gotta look at these pictures, since I didn’t take any of mine) to put into future kid [...]

  • Mardi Andrews - God bless you and your husband. Haiti is dear to my heart and I fell on your blog from a photo on pinterest. What a precious gift you and your kids prepared and sent. Thank you for loving the Haitian people like I do.

  • Bella - I just wanted to say thanks for this fabulous idea. I made some of these for my cousin’s son for a Christmas present and I know he will just love them. I linked back to you in my blog post on how to do them. Just wanted to thank you for the idea and tell you how easy your tutorial was to follow. :)

  • 12 days of christmas: budget friendly ideas | A Life in Balance - [...] Valentine Gifts for School and Making Valentines for Preschool Room Mom 101 – lots of ideas for all the holidays and everything in between Martha Stewart’s Christmas Workshop Reindeer Noses DIY Notebooks [...]

  • Tutorial Tuesday: Favors » Lavender Lime Designs » Designs for the special occasions in your life - [...] | SOURCE | Posted in Tutorial Tuesday Tagged as crafts, diy, favors, learn, mustache, scrabble, tutorials, tuts [...]

  • stacy - Came to the site to see the notebooks but was inspired to do more in life. thank you!

  • Cute Valentine Gifts From Mud Pie Studio | - [...] above the rest. Source 57. Notepad and/or Crayons = Valentine, you’re “write” on! Source   58. Mints = Valentine, we were “mint” to be. (Andes mints, peppermints, etc.) Source [...]

  • Star Wars Printables, Harry Potter Birthday Ideas, Lego Party Games | Diva Entertains Blog - [...] I did a search for “art party” favors, I found this wonderful post, from Under the Sycamore, about DIY notebooks and crayons.  These items were actually made and sent to children in Haiti.  You’ll have to click [...]

  • Rainbows on my mind…. | A Multifarious Me - [...] via Tanya on [...]

  • B.Callaway - What an awesome idea. Our church took a mission trip to Haiti in 2010. From that trip 3 families in our church have, and are still in the process of adopting. My new nephew was the first to come home, and we are awaiting the celebrations of welcoming the other two home. Haiti has not only impacted our church, but has grown to several families in our are waiting to welcome home new family members. Each time one family goes to visit, we all try to think of small useful things to send, and your crayon notebooks are awesome. I think the siblings that are awaiting their brother/sister would absolutely love to make some of these up to send! Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Sara R - Hi, This is the only post of yours I’ve read so far. I saw your little notebook idea on Pinterest and clicked on over. I love this idea and I love how you incorporated your children into the project. I’ve been trying to think of good ways to help model and include my girls in serving others. My girls have some of these same notebooks (nowhere near as cute though!) so this activity would be a good way for them to identify with other children. Make it a bit more personal I guess is what I’m trying to say.

    What a precious moment with your son as well. Inspires and reminds me to be more diligent in praying for tender hearts in my little ones.

  • shelley - What an inspiring story. The giving away of the 100th day hat especially touched me as I am a teacher and I know how proud my students were whenever they made something!
    your notebook idea is great- we are using it for our goodie bags at my sons bday- thanks so much!

  • Tasha - This is such a cute idea! <3

  • Lynn C - This story gave me goosebumps and brought tears to my eyes. My boys are both under two, but I sincerely hope that I raise them to one day be as giving and caring of others as you have raised your boys to me. You should be one proud Momma, you are obviously doing an amazing job raising your little ones!!

  • Jessica - Ok, I just came here because I had repinned this on Pinterest & wanted to see how to read the notebooks but after reading the story I feel so touched. What a wonderful, loving thing for you & your sweet little ones to do. When we make these I’ll definitely be thinking of this story as well as the hundred day hat. :)

  • Best DIY Kids' Birthday Party Favor Ideas – iVillage | Birthday Party Ideas - [...] on!Take creativity on-the-road with this great idea from the Under the Sycamore. Use glue sticks to cover mini notebooks with printed paper and wrap elastic around the book to [...]

  • Carla - I love this! Awesome idea – awesome story!

  • Justina - What a great idea!!! And such sweet memories!


  • Jennifer - Thank you for this amazing story. My girlfriends and I just got together and made a huge stack for our town’s emergency kids shelter. God Bless!

  • An “Art” Party | My Beautiful MessAn "Art" Party - My Beautiful Mess - […] dollar store notepads. Tutorial (blog-Under the […]

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