May 22, 2016
Here’s a project I did with second graders a number of years ago, but, for a specific reason that I will divulge at the end of this post, I chose not write about. Now, having just come across this folder of picture, I liked the images so much that I decided it’s time write about these books.
These second grade student chose to a local bird to research. My job was to design a project that would showcase the results of the research, display some generalized info about the life cycle of the bird, have an “About the Author” section, as well incorporate a diorama that flatten, and which included pop-ups and a paper spring.
I can’t say for sure (though I will dig up my notes and include this info later) but I’d say that this book stand about 10″ high. You can see that it opens from the center to reveal the habitat of the bird.
We were able to do two pop-ups; one in the sky and once on the forest floor. The Blue Jay is attached with a paper spring to give the bird some dimension and movement.
On the backside of the habitat there’s ample room for research and everything else.
Food and Interesting facts go on one of the sides.
Facts about the bird’s appearance and their habitat are written on the far edges of the paper…
….with life cycle info at the center…
…topped off by information about the author.
Now here’s some details to notice. To get the front sections to stay together, the rotated center square is glued on half of its surface, the other half slides under the long strip, which is glued down just at its bottom and top. The details of the decorative elements on the fronts of the books were created with simple, geometric symmetries. I loved the decisions that kids made with the shapes!
Another idea that the students worked with was the idea of using different mediums and methods to make thehabitat. The cloud is foam, there’s cut paper shapes, drawing with markers and crayons, a few shapes created with paper punches (the butterfly and dragonflies) paper springs behind the owls, and both a one-cut and a two-cut pop-up: all with the goal of creating an interesting, texture display.
As you might imagine, these books are made using lots of separate pieces. For this kind of project I generally first have the students make a large origami pocket from a 15″ square paper so that we have container in which to keep everything organized. The classroom teacher, Gail DePace, who I could always count on to enrich my projects with her own personal standards of excellence, had the idea to ask the students to decorate their origami pockets as if they were bird’s nest, complete with appropriately colored eggs.
The students added another dimension to this project by creating their birds in clay and putting them on display along with their books.
At the beginning of this post I said that there was a reason that I hadn’t written about this project. As lovely as the project is, the teacher, who was a spectacular collaborator on this and all projects that we did together, didn’t love this project. She noted that this structure didn’t work well as a book, that it was awkward for the kids to open to the “pages” and read their work when it came time to do their presentation of the final project.
I’d have to agree that this project works much better as a display than as a book. Oh, and it looks great in pictures too. Sometimes, though, the display and the documentation are the priorities, so that’s what I’d keep in mind for this project next time.
May 5, 2016
I just finished up doing something that I’ve never done before: I’ve put together a craft activity packet to sell as a fund-raiser for the local summer Lunch, Learn & Play program.
I’ve gathered together a bunch of projects that I absolutely love. shined them up and packaged them. This box here is one of the stars of the packet. It goes together surprisingly easily, has a tricky kind of feel to it, and is assembled completely without glue.
I didn’t add any on graphics to the pattern for this box because I think the surface itself is interesting enough. It’s hard, from the photos, to see how lovely this structure really is. It takes a careful, patient hand to cut-out and assemble this box, but, besides needing to exert paced self-control, this structure goes together easily and is unusually satisfying to make. A perfect container to tuck a love note into.
Here’s the whole set of boxes. If you been following me you’ll recognize the Pentagon Puff Box box that I recently posted. It’s included in the packet, printed on heavy weight paper, and in two sizes there is a blank template to color yourself, as well as the colored pattern
There’s a few tutorial pages included, too, along with the papers needed to make several versions of each.
The instructions for the paper frame shown above are surprisingly simply, especially if you remember how to make a fortune-teller, as the structures are similar. These frames can stand up on their own, or lay flat.
The origami pocket, which I’ve included three papers to use to make, remains one of the most popular things that I teach. Kids figure out (well, because I tell them…) that any size square can be made into a pocket.
I’m on a mission to encourage people to cut snowflakes from paper napkins. Really, it’s the only material that makes sense. Paper napkins are super easy to fold and cut, they are easy to come by, and AND they are already made from a square! You just have to do one UNfolding to get started. My tutorial provides you with the angle guide that you need to make that elusive SIX-sided snowflake symmetry. I’ve even including a few paper napkins in the packet.
Here are the extra papers I’m including, along with a page that shows two methods for converting a rectangle into a square: a must know skill for nascent origamists.
Finally, just because I can, I’m including three coloring pages based on circle geometries.
Now this may be just silly, but I’ve made video walk-through of this project, which you can see at this link
I’m printing up and assembling these packets by hand, so I’m not looking to sell a whole lot of them….in other words, to my friends, this is NOT a I-have-a-great-idea-but-need-your-support moment!!! But if you do want one, I’ve put up the packet on Etsy for a probably too low price plus$4.00 shipping, I don’t really have an Etsy shop…well, I guess I do now, but I’ve set it up just for this fundraiser. The current price will hold steady until or unless I actually have to go out and buy more paper to fullfill orders. Okay, now I’ve got to go walk the dog then announce it on Twitter and Facebook…looking forward to seeing if this appeals to anyone.
Again, just so it stands out, here’s the link where you can order this: Paula’s BookZoomPa Etsy
April 26, 2016
I still have some in-school arts-in-ed projects to show up for before my season ends, but it’s not too early to think about the summer. I’ll be working with pre-K children this summer, in the local Lunch, Learn & Play camp. I’ll be there three hours once a week for five weeks. It’s just the sort of situation that I’m best at: completely unpredictable. This is a free, show up when you want program so I won’t ever know the number of children who will be in attendance and I won’t be able to predict continuity of the participants.
The goal of the program is to support preparing children for kindergarten. Two teachers from the local school will be on premises. Mostly the mandate for these kids is to work on literacy, and that’s what most of the involved adults will be doing. I will be the only one of the group that will be focusing on numbers and relationship thinking. The teachers have said the goal for these 4- and 5-year olds is simply number recognition: assigning value or even writing the numbers is not part of what I will be doing. Given all these conditions, I’ve worked out a curriculum that I’m very excited about.
I’ll likely start out with some form of this finger counting drawing activity that I’ve previously done with kindergartens. I like planting this happy connection between fingers and counting into the minds of these young children. I am happy to see current research supporting this kind of thinking.
I won’t be asking children to draw numbers but I will be asking them to interact with them. The number 5 at the top of the page is the filled in outline of the number five.. Here’s a video, in 8x, showing how I built up the form:
There’s no gluing done here. I will be taking photos and hopefully even videos of the children making these numbers to help instill lasting impressions.
We’ll also be working cooperatively to fill in big numbers. I will have these number drawn on heavy weight paper…
— and ask children to paint, draw and collage items on the number. Staying in the lines won’t be an issue because…
…the numbers will be cut out and mounted on these accordion supported structures. This number two is 25 inches tall.
I’m considering adding in some sort of door so that children can actually get into the space behind the numbers. My thought is to scatter these numbers around the hallway outside our meeting room each week, and asking children to gather them into our room and line them up in order.
In addition to the numbers I will be packing other kinds of activities that will, hopefully, support relationship thinking. Included in these other activities, I will be bringing along a variation of a project that Christopher Danielson has developed around the concept of “which one doesn’t belong?” What I will be creating are cards to accompany the questions: How are these the same? How are they different?
My thought is that I will be trying to coax out or introduce words that have to do with scale, position, shape and color and whatever else those active minds come up with.
We’ll so come coloring, too.
Likely I will make coloring pages like this one but I will wait until after I start to create these as I want to get a feel for the things first.
Also, I will bring books to read.
In the Night Kitchen Farm donated this gem One Was Johnny by Maurice Sendak to LL&P, so this is the beginning of my travelling library. I would be thrilled to hear recommendations for other books, so please help me out here!
For the grand finale, I want the kids to make really humongous numbers, which, hopefully, will be filmed and/or photographed as the numbers are made. I was flailing about, trying to figure out what to use to make the numbers….
… and finally it seemed to me that having the children become the number, in other words, choreographing them into the shape of the numbers, like the number four in the drawing above, might be a fun thing to try out. Hmm. Wish me luck and look for updates on how this goes during July and August!
Addendum: When Malke Rosenfeld saw this post, she tweeted me a link to this post of hers, which referenced her math work as a five-year old. It knocked my socks off, so I’m sharing it here 1970’s Kindergarten Worksheets
April 13, 2016
About two-and-a-half years ago I made a post titled Paper to Go , about a clever folding sequence, using a single piece of paper, to make an envelope. Recently I came across instructions for another envelope that totally intrigued me.
It’s the sort of paper folding that I like the most. Looks good, feels useful, rearranges the patterns on paper well, looks great even with solid colored paper, and has a satisfying and tricky kind of logic to it.
I’ve made lots of these now, and each and every time I complete one I like this structure better. I’m going include the tutorial page that I found, but my sense is that you have to be fluent in Russian or with origami symbols to decipher these instructions. Even so, I invite you to try it.
If you have a hard time with the written directions, try watching me fold one of these. Here’s the video:
Happy paper folding!