Bookmark this!

Doreen Gaylord, Kanazawa Technical College


Quick guide

  • Key words:Extensive Reading, after-reading activity, bookmarks
  • Learner English level:High beginner and above
  • Learner maturity: High school to university
  • Preparation time: 1 hour
  • Activity time: One 50-minute class
  • Materials: Heavy-weight white paper (ケントし) pre-cut in rectangles measuring approximately 5 cm x 17 cm; fine-tip color markers; string, yarn and ribbon in variouscolors and textures; assorted adornments such as beads and charms; scissors; single-hole punch; laminator and pouches or clear contact paper (cover film, カバーフイルム).You can keep everything organized in a craft box with compartments.


This article describes making bookmarks in the Extensive Reading (ER) class. It is one activity that can help teachers get to know their students at the beginning of the course. Knowing where your students’ interests lie can not only help guide you in choosing appropriate books for your ER library but also help you in making fitting book recommendations for students throughout the course. Making bookmarks is also a valuable after-reading activity that gives students a chance to reflect on the book they’ve just read. While any old scrap of paper will serve as a bookmark, why not make something nice to look at and make reading more fun?


Getting-to-know your students activity

Instruct students to make a bookmark that shows what they like to do in their free time. The teacher should make one beforehand that shows his/her hobby or interest as an example for students.



Step 1:Distribute blank bookmarks and have students draw a picture in pencil about something they enjoy doing (their hobby or interest) on their bookmark. Encourage creativity. Students should write their name on it.

Step 2:On the reverse side, students write three (or more) adjectives that describe themselves as well as their three favorite genres of books.

Step 3:When finished, students should show it to their teacher for approval. Engage the students in conversation about their drawing. After the teacher approves it, students should trace it in pen or fine-tip marker.

Step 4:Next, have students cover it in clear contact paper or laminate it for protection and a more professional look and feel.

Step 5:Have students punch a hole about one centimeter from the top in the center with a single-hole punch.

Step 6:Students can make a tassel using string, yarn and/or ribbon and thread it through the hole. For fancier ones, adornments such as beads and/or charms can be added to the string.

Step 7:Collect the completed bookmarks and grade for creativity/originality and appropriate use/spelling of adjectives.


ER after-reading activity

As an after-reading activity in the ER classroom, students make a bookmark to reflect on the book they’ve just read. Distribute the (double-sided) student handout/grading rubric (see Appendix) and follow the same procedure as above, though students should draw a picture from their imagination of a key character or a scene they remember well.  They should include the book title and author. The adjectives students write on the reverse side should describe the character or the mood of the scene. The book genre can also be written here.


Grade the finished bookmarks according to the criteria in the handout. Have students express their opinion of the book in the “Your Opinion Matters” section of the handout.


Options for finished bookmarks

When finished, students can:

1.  Keep it to use and enjoy with any book.

2.  Donate it to the ER library, putting it inside the corresponding book for the next reader of that book to use and enjoy.

3.  Give it to someone who loves to read. Handmade bookmarks make great gifts for both children and adults.



Even if you don’t teach an ER class, having students make a bookmark about their hobbies or interests is a wonderful activity to help get to know them at the beginning of any course. Students enjoy getting a bookmark to use for their pleasure reading and it can inspire them to read more books (in English?). Fine hand-crafted bookmarks also make fun, inexpensive awards for reading challenges.


The appendix is available below.