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 – 4×6 post card (a single, horizontal scene from nature is best for traditional Japanese haiku)
  • *4 – 4×6 index cards (white)
  • *4 – 4×6 index cards (white), each pre-cut into two 3”x4” pieces
  • (3 extra 4×6 index cards, white, if you want to add a pocket in the back)
  • 1 – 3×5 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 – 4×6 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 4×6 card.  
3. Then, center your 2 ½” x 4 ½” card on each of the 4×6 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 4×6 cards to make a pair of hinges, like you did in step 1, above.
9. Glue the hinges to the front of a 4×6 card.
10. Fold the last 4×6 card in half width-wise and glue one half to the front of the 4×6 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 4×6 print isn’t too bad! :)

    • Cheryl Trowbridge April 21, 2015 at 1:28 pm #

      Great idea, Keli! Thanks for sharing that!!


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