How to Make Notepads

Notepads are handy items to have around, but commercially made products can be expensive. You can quickly and easily make your own notepads using the blank sides of used paper, bills and junk mail, and a few things you probably already have in your home. This is a great activity to share with your kids, particularly on a rainy day. You can even have them decorate the sides of the sheets of paper you want to use for notepads with light-colored highlighters or markers, or rubber stamps. You can make as many as eight separate 4¼-by-5½-inch notepads as you want with this fun project, and it’s a smart, environmentally friendly way to recycle scrap paper and a cereal box.

Things You'll Need

  • Sheets of used 8½-by-11-inch paper
  • Empty cereal box
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Light-colored highlighters or markers (optional)
  • Hobby knife or sharp paring knife
  • Disposable cup or bowl
  • White glue
  • Paintbrush
  • Heavy weight, like a brick, stack of books or large can of food

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Gather all the used 8½-by-11-inch paper that you want to use. Anything with a blank or nearly blank side will work. Don’t be afraid to use papers of different weights, colors or textures.

Stack the sheets of paper with all the blank sides facing up. Fold them into quarters, a few sheets at a time. Make the creases sharp so that each quarter on each sheet is clearly defined. Show your kids the creases, and explain to them that there are four sheets of notepad paper on each of the big sheets of paper. Ask them to decorate the notepad sheets. They’ll love using colored highlighters or even rubber stamps for this part of the project.

Use scissors to cut along the folds of a cereal box to remove the front and back panels from it while the kids are decorating the scrap paper. Use the ruler and pencil to draw an 8½-by-11-inch rectangle on the plain side of each panel. Divide each rectangle into four equal quarters of 4¼ inches by 5½ inches. Cut the quarters out with scissors. These cardboard rectangles will become the backing for each of eight notepads.

Cut the decorated sheets of paper into quarters with scissors. Just follow the folds that you made in them before they were decorated, and you‘ll end up with four notepad pages from each sheet. Cut a few sheets at a time, but don’t worry if the cuts are not perfect. As long as each notepad sheet has one perfectly straight edge, the pads will stick together just fine.

Stack all of the notepad sheets together, lining them up as evenly as possible at one end. Set the stack on top of one of the pieces of cardboard cereal box. This will be the back of the bottom notepad. Pick seven spots between the pages of paper to insert the other pieces of cardboard, to make up to eight individual notepads. Even up the stack of paper and cardboard one more time, and set a heavy weight on top of it close to the even edge, which will become the tops of your notepads. A brick, stack of books or large food can will work well.

Pour some white glue into a disposable cup or bowl. Use the paintbrush to apply glue to the even edges of paper and cardboard in the stack. Allow it to dry thoroughly, then apply a second layer of glue. Let the glue dry.

Use a utility knife or sharp paring knife to cut the stack into individual notepads. Slip the blade directly beneath one side of the topmost piece of cardboard. Run the blade horizontally through the dried glue to cleanly separate the first notepad from the stack. Repeat this for the other notepads, except for the bottom one, giving each pad its own cardboard backing.

Tips & Warnings

  • It's easier to glue a single large stack of paper and cardboard than it is to try to do this with multiple smaller individual stacks.
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