February 14, 2013
April 4, 2012
Book cover design has its challenges for all ages. When the books that I make with children have a title page, rather than repeat the title page info up front, I like students to design a visually stunning cover. I used to give first graders lots of bits of cut paper, with the directions that they should cut and glue a nice design on to their covers. Those of you who work with first graders know exactly how that goes…..I’ve tried many approaches to the cover graphics, and recently I tried something out that is an elementary version of something I have done with adults. I was happy with the results, so here it is.
I started out by letting students pick just one strip of 2″ x 8″ paper. They then took just two small pieces of paper from an assortment of bits of paper that were in a box. The technique that I encouraged was specific:
make just three or four cuts in the larger paper, to create small cut-outs
make just one cut in just one of the smaller pieces
arrange the papers on the cover so that the cut-outs from the larger paper are near to the places they were cut from
arrange the other piece as desired and glue down well.
I think I also mentioned something about “less is more” to these budding graphic designers. Most of the students were able to resist the urge to cut and paste any which way, and they came up with a variety of really fine book covers.
An added bonus to this technique, besides looking good it took only minutes for these designs to be completed.
Now, here’s some cut paper designs, using a similar method of working, that I do with adults.
Most first graders aren’t up to creatively cutting long edges of paper, but that will change in a few years. For now, a few snips here and there, and thoughtful placement works just fine.
March 18, 2012
During the last couple of weeks one of the in-school projects that I’ve been involved in is the Biography Project with Second Graders. This project has been a real treat to work on, for many reasons, not the least of which has been the fine collaborative opportunities I’ve been able to be part of with the teachers. At the time that I proposed the structure I wasn’t sure what to do with the cover page. Between watching what most motivated the students, as well as integrating ideas from the teachers, the covers were this blend of typography, student made decoration, and a silhouette.
I like framing the title of the book color. I had noticed that students were incredibly enthusiastic when I had given them outlines of letters to fill in, which was the cover of one of the mini-books that is housed inside the pages of the big book.
Here’s one of the mini-books, which is a book which will contain clues about the person who the student is studying.
Here’s one of the Clues books, which shows the questions at the edge of the pages. The readers are given clues which will help them guess whose biography is written here. On the next page (which is not shown in this post) there is a writing and drawings which are relevent to the subject..
I’m always searching for ways to get the job done (create a compelling book structure for students to use) while adding details that make the process more individualized as well as being more enjoyable for students. Giving the students these outlines to fill in, both on the frame of the book and the outlines of the letters, was a fun addition to this project.
Here’s some more samples:
Right now I’m deep into the busiest part of the season that I visit schools. What I am going to try to do is post as I go along, with the intent of focussing on details that have captured my interest when working with the students. What captured my interest this week was this way of providing blank spaces which students could enliven with color.
March 17, 2011
I have been working with many young children lately. My goal is create a project that pleases the children, the teacher, the school and me. With young children this means that the projects often start out highly structured. Even though I know that this is a good thing there is a part of me that just wants to let the children run wild with color. This, sigh, generally does not turn out to be a good thing.
I struggle to find a place where I can let students loose with color and design, but still reign in their designs in a way that shows them a new and unexpected way of approaching their work.
For years I have been trying out different ways of introducing decoration. I feel like there’s been a good bit of success in working with letters of the alphabet. But I have found that it’s good to even simplify this approach. Whereas I used to demonstrate ways of using the letters Z,O,V,W,I,C,X, and S as decoration I recently decided to just try out using WOW and I….by the time I met with the third class of the day I was down to using just WOW.
Children love to watch an adult draw.I am always happy to stand at the board and draw for them. To demonstrate this technique I draw some W’s and O’s, emphasizing the decorative possibilities of these letter shapes, and then I draw WWWWWWWWW and say that sound….the insightful teachers know just how long to let the students imitate the sound before they ask their class to quiet down. But I like that they spend a long moment with the WWWWWWWWWWWWW and OOOOOOOOOOOooooOOOO’s because it seems that vibration they make gets deep inside of them, priming them for good work.
… their designs turn out so differently from each other’s.