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.
March 19, 2012
I was working with first graders today when something unexpected happened.
I have visited this school for many years, helping first graders to make lovely books, which they fill with their own original poems. (I’ve written about this project in detail at
http://bookzoompa.wordpress.com/2010/03/17/books-for-poetry-by-first-graders/), and here’s a sample of the the completed project made by first graders in 2010.
Today, when I walked into the class they were finishing up going over math problems that had been copied on to half sheets of paper. When they were done the teacher asked them to put away the papers, and we got to work.
My agenda was to guide the students through making an origami pamphlet out of a 19″ x 23″ sheet of paper, followed by making a book cover with pockets. What was unexpected is that they finished this all in 48 minutes, which left us with an extra 12 minutes. This rarely happens. I was about to hand to class back over to the regular classroom teacher when I remembered those math sheets.
We had just made the origami pamphlet out of large papers, and I had gone over the directions slowly and explicitly, so I thought that these first graders would enjoy making tiny little books using the very same methods of folding as they did in the bigger books.
They were stars. They remembered the steps and made their new little books in about a minute. Then they got to work.
Now, remember, these are first graders whose writing skills are just beginning to emerge, but, for the most part, the fact that their writing skills were limited didn’t bother them in the least.. I was lucky enough to hear an exchange of thoughts between two students: one child immediately got to work writing about rainbows and ribbons. The girl next to her bewailed that she didn’t know what to do. The prolific child told her classmate to just write words, but the girl said she didn’t know any words. Undaunted the rainbow girl advised her friend that she should just make up words. This turned out to be a satisfying suggestion, and the formerly clueless child got right to work.
It’s been my experience that if children are given little blank books they start writing.
Today I saw this happen again. As soon as the class finished constructing their books there was hardly another word spoken in the room as they all wrote, drew and imagined.
February 15, 2011
Making Books with First Graders
This past week I worked with three classes of first graders. My goal was to help the students create books which honor their writing. I want the books to be good-looking, dynamic and individualized. I have three 75 minute sessions to accomplish this.
All students begin by making an Origami Pamphlet using the same color paper. No choice there. But I am able to give them choice in the decorative details.
One of my favorite decorative techniques is to ask the students to create designs with geometric shapes. Just the mention of color rivets students’ attention. I try to find a place to lay out their color choices attractively. I’ve figured out that making colors available to students in a carte blanche kind of way results in designs that descend into chaos. Now I am more orderly in the distribution of color. Perhaps I am delusional, but I try to convey the concept that there are advantages in practicing restraint.
For decorative accents, students choose four colors from my palette of Brite cover weight papers . These strips of paper are 5 inches x 1.25 inches (if I were in metric-land I would cut these stips to be 3cm x 12cm). Then everyone cuts SQUARES ONLY. They do this by creating an “L” with the strips, then cutting on the line that defines where the strips overlap.
Students can use their squares as squares, turn them to become diamonds, cut them in half to create triangles, or cut them into lines. I do not allow them to explore any other options. This makes me feel mean, but I explain to these budding artists they can try out all sorts of decorative options on all their works for the rest of their lives, but, for right now I want them to do it my way so that they will learn a new technique. I promise them that although they are all getting the same instructions, that their books will each have their own look.
They work a bit on each page, then go back and add more after each page has been treated.
We use glue sticks to adhere the shapes to the paper. I bring in the 1.41oz (40g) size of UHU Glue sticks. Then I threaten students that the shapes will fall off the page unless they apply enough glue and pressure to the papers.
The result: Same But Different.
There are other decorative technques that the students use. But that’s another post.
To be continued.
March 17, 2010
This week I finished up helping 96 first grade students make books for the lovely poems that they wrote under the guidance of their classroom teachers. First, we made a large origami pamphlet from a 17″ x 23″ sheet of 67lb cover paper (lilac). We then made a book cover with pockets for storing unfinished poetry and drawings. Some poems were hand-written by students; other poems were type-written by teachers. Students learned how to make decorative borders, using the the letters of the alphabet W, O, I, X, and V. A title page was added, and covers were decorated with geomtric shapes
Here the student has started making a border design using the letters W, V and O. The green paper in the miccle is a sticky note, which is acting as a “place holder;’ when the student finishes writing a poem, the sticky note will be removed and the poetry page will be glued in.