Image Credit: Heidi Baumgartner

How to Make Paper Clip Bookmarks

Did you know that the simple paper clip is like a super champion in the world of stationery? It's not just for holding papers together — it can be a key holder, an emergency hook or even a replacement zipper pull on your jacket!

And guess what? Today, we're turning these everyday office supply heroes into a visual time capsule of courage and kindness: paper clip bookmarks. It’s more than a fun craft; it carries a lot of meaning.

Now, let's go back a bit and talk about a time when people used paper clips in a really cool way.

A long time ago, there was a time when many people around the world faced unfair treatment and hardships simply because of who they were. Some people in Norway stood up against this unfairness and started pinning paper clips to their coats to visually communicate, "Hey, every person is important, and together, we're stronger!"

Many years later, in a small town in Tennessee, some elementary school students were trying to understand the impact of difficult historical times in a way they could understand.

To help make history real and inspired by the story from Norway, the smart young scholars in Tennessee started collecting paper clips from family and friends. They had a goal of 6 million paper clips. And guess what? Over time, their “Paper Clips Project” story spread beyond their town of 1,600 people, and soon, they had millions of paper clips!

The school children received a total of 30 million donated paper clips and 30,000 letters from people interested in their project. They had paper clip boxes stored in every corner of the school!

These clever kids, with the help of their teacher, decided to do something awesome with all those paper clips. They created a children's museum at their school to display the first 11 million of the donated paper clips.

The museum also features carefully cataloged letters; showcases books, documents and artifacts from the past; and shares powerful history lessons.

The community decided the museum, housed in a rail car, should be surrounded by a garden, so they dug up flower donations from their own yards. Artists came along and added other special touches like 18 copper butterflies — representing life and future hope — and created another monument to incorporate another 11 million of the collected paper clips.

Today, other students are giving tours at the museum, teaching more children about courage, kindness, perseverance, empathy and the power of standing together to make positive changes in our world as global citizens.

Now, here’s where you come into the story: You can make a paper clip bookmark to remind yourself and everyone around you of the value of each person.

While you're making your bookmark, think about the incredible children who faced challenges in history, like those brave ones who lived through difficult times and the clever ones from Tennessee who, inspired by that story, collected millions of paper clips to honor and learn from the past.

Maybe, someday, you'll share your paper clip bookmark with someone and pass on the story of how small acts can make a big difference.

To make paper clip bookmarks, you will need a few simple supplies that your parents or guardians likely have around the house. You will need:

  • A handful of large paperclips (silver or colorful ones)
  • Thin ribbon, yarn or string
  • Scissors
  • Your imagination


  1. Assemble your supplies on a table.
  2. Cut your ribbon, yarn or string into 5- or 6-inch pieces.
  3. Fold your ribbon, yarn or string in half.
  4. Poke the loop through the front side of the paper clip
  5. Reach through the loop with your fingers and pull the ribbon ends through the loop.
  6. Pull the ribbon ends gently yet tightly to secure the ribbon in place on the paper clip.
  7. Depending on the ribbon, yarn or string you use, you may need to trim or knot the ends to keep them from unraveling.
  8. Repeat as many times as you’d like to make more paper clip bookmarks!

Featured in: January/February 2024