June 6, 2012
Each season that I am involved with classroom bookmaking students nudge me into making discoveries about how to think about bookmaking. This year one of the lessons that I walk away with is how satisfying it can be to bond with the bookmaking process through a personalized book-figure. Okay, that’s not a real term, but I don’t know what else to call it.
What I noticed was that once a child created an image for their book that they could sort of anthropomorphize they seemed to connect and care more about their subject matter and their book. For instance Brianna’s Flower (above) became a personal extension of herself, so her project became very much her very own, rather than just another assignment.
This connection seemed to be made if it was a fantasy flower, an extinct animal….
…or endangered animals. When I started to noticing how students made connections to their books through these figures I began to encourage them to feel free rein while enhancing them through color….which led to some extravagant and lovely results.
I can’t remember who the ladies are in the photo above, but I like their taste in clothing.
Here’s the president and his wife, as created by the hands of second graders who were researching famous people.
By the time I worked with first graders on their chick project I had figured out that the first thing we should do is cut out a chick (everyone had the same chick pattern to cut out). I knew enough to encourage each child to give their own chick a personality by making an expressive eye, giving the beak some color and shape and considering the shape of the wing. If a chick became temporarily misplaced before we attached it into the book, the student would look for it as if she were looking for a personal friend, and it was a sweet reunion once the chick was found.
When I worked with second graders on their flower and plant book I told them not to worry about making a particular flower, but , instead to create a flower according to their own ideas about what would attract the kind of bee they want to be visited upon. I loved the flowers that these students came up with! The most interesting thing that happened, though, was that as these book-figures developed I realized that, through these book figures, even I was connecting to the students books in a more personalized way. One day I had to make a stop at a school sometime after my residency ended. The completed projects were on display, and I had time to take a look at them. One of the books housed the lady in the pink pillbox hat, shown in the first photo of this post. She was such a character that I had to go back again with my camera to make sure I had a record of her. Fortunately, by the time I caught up with the teacher, Mr. Terri -who also happened to be the teacher who came up the concept of this project- the pink hatted lady was still in the classroom. I would have been truly despondent had she gone home without my photographing her. Just a couple of days ago I showed her image to my friend, Ed. I was absolutely delighted that he immediately and correctly guessed her identity.
Here she is again, my book-figure friend Jackie Kennedy saying good-bye for me as I am about to sign off on classroom bookmaking for the 2011-2012 school year.
June 1, 2012
As the last day of school approaches, what could be a more compelling subject for a book than memories of the school year?
Since I have already written posts about using the Origami Pamphlet structure I hadn’t intended on writing a post about this most recent project. But when I looked over the photos I so very much liked the student work that, well, here they are…
Before I started my time with these first grade students they had worked with their teachers, making lists about activities and events that stood out to them over the school year. They made drawings and did writing that reflected their favorite memories.
I never get enough of looking at drawings by first graders.
Cutting a window into the Origami Pamphlet makes the drawing the centerpiece of the book.
Each time that I give my lesson on making WOW! designs I am stunned by the inventive variations that the students come up with.
It seemed to me that playing dodgeball, having an in-classroom “camping” experience and, having an ice-cream party were among the most celebrated events of the year. Only one student ranked “bookmaking” as a favorite memory, but I supposed that, while I was there, bookmaking hadn’t actually become a memory just yet. Now here’s one of my favorite drawings….
As usual, but not shown, I asked students to trace their hands on the last page of the book. The traced hand is a great addition to a first grade book because at this time next year each of their little hands will be significantly larger. So, if you are a first grade teacher reading this post and thinking about memory books for your students, don’t forget the hands.
May 14, 2012
Shortly after I finished up making the dinosaur book project I received an email from Mrs. Kelly which said “…this year, we would like to make an informational book about chicks. We will be getting chicks on April 24th. Perhaps I could meet with you to show you some of the writing projects and activities we do with chicks … and you could help us to create a fun book to go along with it. “ It seemed quite natural to let the dinosaur project evolve into a chick project (what could go wrong?)
I thought I could seamlessly transfer the elements of the dinosaur project to different colored papers with chicks instead of dinosaurs, but things turned out to be more interesting than I had envisioned. These teachers (a team of four teachers for about 80 students) had put together a full blown science unit of study.
With real eggs incubating in the classroom, the teachers presented a lesson on ”what a chick needs in an egg.” We tucked this info on the left flap of the book.
The students also learned about other animals who came from eggs, such as turtles, snakes, and alligators. They wrote ”who am I” riddles in their writing journals, along with a drawing…
… which they then transferred on to the right inner flap of the book. The students glued down just the top edge of the paper, creating a peek-a-boo experience.
It turns out there are many animals that hatch from eggs. I think I learned at least as much as the students .
The teachers also talked about the different stages of development of the chick inside of the egg. We worked together to create images for four milestones of gestation, which the students colored, cut out, glued on across the inside of the pages, then labeled the images sometime after I took this photo.
Here’s what the project looked like the day that I left. Like the dinosaur project, there is a book tucked into the middle pocket which will contain student writing. I believe that these first graders will be writing a story featuring a baby chick. I hope that students will draw in a habitat around the chick. On the back side of these papers is a brief “Author’s Notes” page, along with a tracing of the student’s hand.
If you are so inclined to do this project, here are the pages that I created that helped us keep moving along.
Now, with the files safely tucked into this post so that I can find them again, I can relax…
April 14, 2012
There is generally one project that I am most smitten by each year. This year’s dinosaur project, which first grade teacher Mrs. Kaveny and I put together, is my star of the season.
We folded two 11″ x 17″ cover weight papers, a blue paper for the background, and a white paper for the foreground. Using pre-pressed score lines, students folded the sides of the white paper in 4.25″ on both sides, so that the paper closed like a set of french doors. We added a pop-up on the left fold, and cut curvy mountain ranges on the top edge. The blue paper was folded just a bit differently than the white so that the papers overlapped in an interesting way.
For me, the highlight of the project was bonding to our dinosaurs. Students were assigned a specific dinosaur. The librarian, Mrs. Fields, downloaded line drawings of dinosaurs from the Enchanted Learning website then students colored in their dinosaurs. Mrs. Kaveny and I both agreed that no one really knows what colors bedecked the dino’s bodies, so these 7-year old artists used colors at their own discretion. After the coloring was done, I took their drawings home, scanned them into my computer, then copied the image three times, doing some shrinking and stretching, so that I was able to hand back three dinosaurs -a family!- to grace inside of the book.
Of course we needed to insert the research writing. There are two books within this book. On the right hand panel there’s a folded page which contained “fast facts.” In the center of the book there is a pocket which contains another book, which is filled with complete sentences and paragraphs.
Here’s what the pages for the writing looked like in my sample. After the part of the project that I facilitated was done, my time at the school was over, so I didn’t have a chance to see the project completed. Students did the writing and the rest of the landscape decoration with their teacher.
The finishing touch to the book was Mrs. Kaveny’s title for the book, Dino Details. We cut out the title in the shape of a dinosaur egg and made a crack. The students were talking about adding a baby dino on the cover too. Wish I had thought of that!