Diary of a Real Payne Go-Along (a Hands-On Activity)

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Diary of a Real Payne: A True Story is such a fun book. My 5th grader loved it, and she often begged for more time so she could continue reading. It’s not sassy or rude like other “diary” books we’ve seen. It’s about a spunky ten-year old girl, EJ, who is an avid daydreamer. Each chapter of the book starts out in diary form.

Diary of a Real Payne Go-Along (a Hands-On Activity)

I thought it would be fun to have my sweetie make a diary of her own. Emma loves to write stories and journal entries so she jumped at this opportunity. This diary, created with her own hands, is a great place for her to jot down notes about what happened throughout her day.

Diary of a Real Payne Go-Along (a Hands-On Activity)

What we used:

  • paper bag book {see note below}
  • colored paper or lined paper {whichever your child prefers or you have on hand}
  • glue stick
  • items for decorating individual pages: stickers, paints, markers, stamps and ink, etc.

NOTE: I purchased a set of paper bag books several years ago for scrapbooking, and I never used them. So, I had these on hand. However, you can make your own by following the instructions on this website. My books came already sewn and hole-punched so we just added ribbon for decoration.

Diary of a Real Payne Go-Along (a Hands-On Activity)

 I went through my scrapbook papers and cut out enough to use on each of the diary pages. I also had a few embellishments on hand that she chose to include on the cover. I handed Em all of the supplies and let her put the book together.

Quick note: To make the pages lay flatter, I glued the flap from the bottom of the bag down. This made it easier for Em to adhere the decorative paper to the page.

Diary of a Real Payne Go-Along (a Hands-On Activity)

Once the flaps were glued down, she proceeded to add her decorative papers to each page.

Diary of a Real Payne Go-Along (a Hands-On Activity)

Once all the patterned papers were glued down, it was time to get really creative. You can see, she used some of the pages to journal her daily activities. She also used some to store some of her favorite pictures.

Diary of a Real Payne Go-Along (a Hands-On Activity)

One really neat thing about these paper bag books is that the opening of the paper bag creates a pocket where the kids can store movie tickets, programs, notes from friends, and more.

Diary of a Real Payne Go-Along (a Hands-On Activity)

It’s fun to read the things Em has written in her diary and to see what pictures she treasures. I have loved looking at the memorabilia she has chosen to save, as well. If you’ve got a crafty kiddo, I’ll bet they’ll love this crafty way to preserve their memories.

About Tara Mitchell

Tara Mitchell is a wife and mom to three beautiful children ages 19, 15, and 10. She enjoys reading, cooking/baking, and crafting. When she's not driving to and from her children's activities, you can find her blogging at This Sweet Life. You can also connect with her on Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and Facebook.


  1. What a cute diary! It turned out great. I did a similar project with a bunch of 1st graders – I teach an art class and I always read them a book before we do a project. I read them a large format version of Peter Rabbit and then they made a book about things they like about spring. Can you believe none of them had ever heard Peter Rabbit before?

    Loving your blog!

    • Thanks for the comments on the project. I love your idea of creating theme-specific books, too. It’s a shame that your kiddos hadn’t heard Peter Rabbit before. It’s such a classic, must-read for all young readers.

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