Tunnel Books

Tun­nel books are fun and unique!  We made ours using a post card for a prompt and wrote a haiku to go with it.  I’ve made these with grade 4 and up, but younger stu­dents could enjoy this activ­ity in “cen­ters”, with the help of par­ent vol­un­teers, or by hav­ing the var­i­ous parts prepped for them ahead of time.
There are lots of dif­fer­ent direc­tions you could take this project.  We added a pocket on the back for hold­ing a writ­ten story that we added later.  

For a con­ve­nient pdf of this les­son, visit my Teach­ers Pay Teach­ers Store!

Mate­ri­als (per stu­dent):

  • 1 — 4x6 post card (a sin­gle, hor­i­zon­tal scene from nature is best for tra­di­tional Japan­ese haiku)
  • *4 — 4x6 index cards (white)
  • *4 — 4x6 index cards (white), each pre-cut into two 3”x4” pieces
  • (3 extra 4x6 index cards, white, if you want to add a pocket in the back)
  • 1 — 3x5 index card, cut to 2 ½”x4 ½” (a color other than white if pos­si­ble, to use as a tem­plate for trac­ing the opening)
  • scis­sors
  • glue stick
  • pen­cil and eraser
  • lined paper for writ­ing haiku
  • black UF Sharpie
  • col­ored pencils

(*Each “page” of your tun­nel book will require two — 4x6 cards.  These instruc­tions are for the four “page” book shown.)

1. Begin by read­ing a few haiku poems to your stu­dents, so they get the feel for the struc­ture of the verse.  Choose haiku that focus on nature as a theme, as you find in tra­di­tional Japan­ese haiku.  Explain that a haiku does not need to rhyme.  Titles are optional.
2. Show how each of the 3 lines has a spe­cific num­ber of syl­la­bles (5,7,5).  Prac­tice by clap­ping out the syl­la­bles in the haiku you just read.
3. Pass out post cards and have stu­dents write a nature-themed haiku to go with their post­card.  The first line (5 syl­la­bles) intro­duces their sub­ject, the 2nd line (7 syl­la­bles) con­tin­ues describ­ing it, and the 3rd line (5 syl­la­bles) com­pletes the idea.  (A “What Am I?” haiku is fun for kids…. the stu­dent uses the haiku to describe some­thing in the pic­ture with­out nam­ing it, some­what like a rid­dle.)  Tun­nel Book:
1. First, make the hinged sides of your book by fold­ing each of your 3”x4” index cards accor­dion style: fold in half length­wise (“moun­tain fold”), then fold each loose edge up (“val­ley fold”) to line up with the fold in the mid­dle.  
2. Next, put a lit­tle glue along the inside edge of two of your hinges, and place them on the left and right sides of the back of your post card.  Repeat this step for each 4x6 card.  
3. Then, cen­ter your 2 ½” x 4 ½” card on each of the 4x6 cards and trace around it.  These will be your pages and your “cover”.
4. Write one line of your haiku across the top of each of 3 cards, and your title (if you want one) across the other.  Trace with Sharpie.
5. Now, illus­trate each page of your book by choos­ing ele­ments from the post card and repeat­ing them on the edges of each page.  Keep most of your design along the top, bot­tom and sides, but allow some ele­ments to over­lap into the cen­ter sec­tion.  (Remem­ber that objects closer to you will appear larger than those far­ther away.  Out­line your draw­ing with Sharpie and color with col­ored pen­cils.)
6. Cut away the cen­ter sec­tion of each page, cut­ting around any ele­ments that extend into the mid­dle.  (By pinch­ing the mid­dle of each page, with­out creas­ing to the edges, you can snip into the cen­ter to cre­ate an open­ing for your scis­sors.)
7. Assem­ble your tun­nel book, work­ing from the back (line 3 of your haiku) to the front, glu­ing the back of each hinged page to the hinges behind it.

Optional pocket:
8. Use one of your extra 4x6 cards to make a pair of hinges, like you did in step 1, above.
9. Glue the hinges to the front of a 4x6 card.
10. Fold the last 4x6 card in half width-wise and glue one half to the front of the 4x6 card.
Glue the other half to the back of your post­card.
11. Finally, glue the front of the hinges to the back of the post card to com­plete your pocket.  12. Now, write a story, fold it up, and put it in the pocket!


19 Responses to Tunnel Books

  1. Nancie Kay April 9, 2011 at 9:57 pm #

    These are GREAT — thanks for sharing…I could see this as a col­lab­o­ra­tion between art teach­ers and class­room teachers.

  2. Jacquelien April 10, 2011 at 1:26 am #

    What a great tuto­r­ial, thanks! The books look great, stu­dents must be so proud of themselves!

  3. JennyKay April 10, 2011 at 3:20 am #

    These are fan­tas­tic! They look like alot of work, but agree with Nan­cie Kay that this is a great cross cur­ric­u­lar activity.

  4. TeachKidsArt April 10, 2011 at 10:11 am #

    I know these direc­tions look com­pli­cated, but I just like to be really thor­ough in explain­ing it! Once you’ve made one, it’s really not that dif­fi­cult. And yes, the kids LOVE them!!! :)

  5. Hannah- Art.Paper.Scissors.Glue! April 10, 2011 at 6:12 pm #

    I love mak­ing tun­nel books– I’ve used Shel Silverstein’s, “What’s in the Sack?” poem as a start­ing off point, mak­ing a tun­nel book as to “what’s in a sack…”, and I have a cou­ple of tun­nel books, “Danc­ing Skele­tons” and “La Grande Jatte” that make great references!

  6. Phyl April 10, 2011 at 9:13 pm #

    Thank you for the instruc­tions. These are AWESOME and I can’t wait to try it!!

  7. SMMART ideas April 26, 2011 at 12:22 am #

    LOVE THIS IDEA! I am orga­niz­ing a sum­mer read­ing group where moms each take a week of host­ing kids in their home and do activ­i­ties around a favorite children’s book. I am sure to use this idea when it’s my turn to host! Thanks for the super site!
    http://SMMARTideas.blogspot.com-learning activ­i­ties for kids

  8. SMMART ideas May 9, 2011 at 10:24 pm #

    I am shar­ing this idea on my blog (giv­ing you credit)as an activ­ity to go along with a book. The Title of the book and author will be on the front, then characters,plot and set­ting will be dis­played on each “page”. I’ll be shar­ing this idea on air too. Email me if you have any ques­tions or con­cerns. Thanks for your great ideas!
    Lisa Bergantz

    I couldn’t find an email to con­tact you personally…mine is SMMARTideas@hotmail.com

  9. Katja February 15, 2012 at 9:59 am #

    My daugh­ter saw it, jumped away, picked up every­thing she needed and wanted to cre­ate her owm tun­nel book IMMEDIATELY ! What a great post. Thanks for shar­ing it ! Katja

  10. TeachKidsArt February 15, 2012 at 9:08 pm #

    Katja, I’m glad your daugh­ter was inspired! Have fun!!

  11. Katja February 16, 2012 at 12:42 pm #

    It’s done ! And really not dif­fi­cult even for my six year old daugh­ter. Tomorow, she wants do “at least three” other tun­nel books… A new pas­sion is born !

  12. Theresa September 22, 2012 at 10:54 am #

    Great activ­ity! Found that the rec­tan­gle die cut at school is a great open­ing size for my stu­dents with small motor issues!

    • Cheryl Trowbridge September 23, 2012 at 5:59 pm #

      A die cut is a great idea, Theresa! Some­times one less step makes a big dif­fer­ence when you’re doing a project with lots of steps, like this one has!

  13. Jennie February 11, 2013 at 9:15 pm #

    This is a fab­u­lous idea, but I would love to see step by step pic­tures. (I am much more the “learn by doing” type than the “read to do” type. :D

    Cool con­cept though!

    • Cheryl Trowbridge February 13, 2013 at 1:16 pm #

      I agree com­pletely, Jen­nie! I cre­ated this les­son plan to go along with a hands-on work­shop where I taught every­one how to do it. The les­son plan was more of a “reminder” of what to do for each step. I really need to make a tuto­r­ial for this project, so thanks for the reminder… it’s on my “to do” list!

  14. Keli April 19, 2015 at 8:19 am #

    Since I don’t have any post­cards, I found some nature pics online to photo print at Wal­mart. Since I have 75 stu­dents, $.09 per 4x6 print isn’t too bad! :)


  1. Haiku Tunnel Book Tutorial : Teach.Learn.Imagine. - November 19, 2012

    […] Kids Art has a tuto­r­ial on how to cre­ate tun­nel books using a Haiku […]

  2. Tunnel Books: Book Report Alternative | The Teaching Factor - June 2, 2014

    […] this school year, I came across a tun­nel book* on Pin­ter­est that caught my atten­tion. I pinned it think­ing I have to do some­thing like it with my students. […]

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