Botanical bookmarks

Activity

Use natural materials to make bookmarks for your gardening books or to give away as gifts

  • Estimated time: 45 minutes
  • Location: Outdoors & Indoors
  • School term: All year round
  • Level of experience: No experience needed
  • Subject(s): Art&DT

Learning objectives

  • Use natural items as a form of art
  • Observe natural items up close
  • Learn how to press flowers and leaves 

Preparation

Flowers and leaves need to be pressed before making the bookmarks. Check our resource for different ways of pressing them.

  • For best results: press for 1-2 weeks using the plant press or heavy book method.
  • For quickest results: place materials between two sheets of kitchen paper, place a heavy book on top and press down for a few seconds. Or use the iron or microwave method.

Ask your students or children to think about who their bookmark will be for and what sort of pattern they might like to create or colour scheme to follow.

Equipment

  • Natural materials such as flowers, petals, leaves, grasses or seeds
  • A bowl or sandwich bag
  • A way to press your materials
  • Coloured card
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers or toothpicks (only needed if using smaller, fiddly materials)
  • Coloured pens or pencils
  • Laminator and laminating pouches or sticky back plastic
  • Optional: Hole punch
  • Optional: Ribbon or string


Random acts of kindness

Put a smile on people’s faces by leaving your bookmarks hidden in random books in your school or local library. You could also leave some on the counter at your local shop, GP surgery or hairdressers, or hang them from a tree or fence in a busy area. Just make sure you have permission first.

Write a happy message, positive quote or a short poem on one side of the bookmark before decorating. Here are some of our favourites:

  • "A little magic can take you a long way." - James and the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl
  • "I may not be there yet, but I am closer than I was yesterday." - Firebird, Misty Copeland
  • "Believing takes practice." - A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L'Engle

Step by step

  1. Ask your students/children to walk around the garden with a bag or bowl and collect natural items such as small flowers, petals, leaves, seeds or grasses. Small children will find this activity easier if they choose larger items such as whole flowers and leaves.
  2. Press the materials using your chosen method. 
  3. Cut the card into bookmark sized strips (ours were approx. 20cm x 5.5cm or you can cut an A4 piece of card across the width, into 5 strips which are approx. 6cm in width).
  4. Ask students/children to carefully place the items onto the strips into their desired pattern or design. If using small petals and leaves, tweezers or toothpicks will make it easier to move them. 
  5. Use felt tips or colouring pencils to add any decorations or words.
  6. Now wrap your bookmark. If using a laminator, carefully place the bookmark into a laminating pouch before passing through the laminator (to reduce wasteage, put more than one bookmark in each pouch, just remember to leave at least 1cm between them). If using sticky back plastic, cut a piece that is a bit bigger than the bookmark (around 1cm around all edges so it will create a good seal), carefully peel off the back and place on top of the bookmark before wrapping the excess around the back. Rub over the front to remove any bubbles.
  7. If desired, use a hole punch to make a hole in the top of the bookmark and thread through some string or ribbon.

Hints & tips

  • If you don't have a garden, take a stroll around a park or woodland to find your materials.
  • If you are unsure about what plants are safe to touch, have a look at our checklist of potentially harmful plants.
  • You may wish to use scissors or secateurs to remove flowers or leaves - just remember only to cut them from plants you own or are allowed to cut from, otherwise look for fallen materials.
  • When placing bookmarks into laminating pouches or adding sticky back plastic, smaller petals can get attracted to the plastic causing them to move out of place. You may find it easier to add a thin layer of glue to the bookmark before the materials are placed down to hold them in place.
  • Bookmarks make brilliant gifts. Students/children could add messages to friends or family onto the back of the bookmark or add things like 'Happy Birthday' or 'Happy Father's Day' onto the front.
  • Use your bookmarks to spread happiness by leaving them for people to find - see our suggestions for these random acts of kindness in the green box.
  • Sell your bookmarks at a school or local craft fair to raise some money for your group or a charity.

We've won awards!

Winner of the Drum Marketing Awards 2017
Winner of the ERA 2017 awards
Winner of the Third Sector 2017 awards