8 1/2" x 11" Book Making · Accordion Books · Making Books with children · Rubber Band Books

Making Books with Second Graders, 3/2010

Books in Pockets

This past week I had the opportunity to  teach second graders how to make a variety of books that they could use for their own ideas.   I met with four different classes three times each over the course of three days. Generally when I visit classrooms I come in to help facilitate a specific project, such as making poetry books, or books which showcase student research on a specific topic.  Not being used to showing students how to make books without a specific subject matter in mind, I wasn’t quite sure what would work the best for these students. I have to say that I made a few decisions that I was, ah, able to learn from.

Here’s what was going on: the students were involved in a week of testing, and the teachers wanted to offer an enjoyable counterpoint to the hours of focussed work that these children had to endure.  Applause for these teachers, please!

Origami Pamphlet with hearts

The first thing I tried was to demonstrate  a variety of simple book structures, and then allowed students the freedom to independently create a book of their own choosing.  I can confidently say that this was a terrible decision.  I quickly changed my agenda.  What worked best for these children was for me to work step by step, creating each structure with them, beginning to end, and then let them choose which structure they wanted to develop.  Together we made a book with a rubber band binding,  a modified-for-second-graders pamphlet stitched book,  a french-fold accordion book, an origami pamphlet, some pop-ups, paper springs, and origami pockets.  We used regular sized copy paper for all projects.

Four books by Second Graders
A Line-up of Pamphlet Sewn Books, Modified Technique for Second Graders

The next thing that I learned about second graders is the wide range of skills they bring to their work.  For this reason I can’t say that one structure was better than another for this age group in general.  I had suspected that using half sheets of copy paper (folded in half, nested together and bound with a #19 rubber band) would be too small a size for their big handwriting.  Wrong again.  The small size book was perfect for some students who might be intimidated by a larger book.

Rubber Band Bound Book
Sydney Loves to Draw

On the other hand, there are students in second grade who write small, and have much to say.  For these students, a larger book (8 1/2′ x 11″ papers folded in half and sewn together) offered them enough room to create chapters….

Pamplet stitched book by second grader

….though I have to say that, regardless of the skill level, the smaller books were generally a popular choice with the students.

Storybook by Second Grader

Enough said.  If you are inclined to look further, here are a few more photos posted for your enjoyment.

More about Verdi (Rubber Band Bound Book)
Four page accordion book
French Fold Accordion Book, using regular sized copy paper
Small Book about a boy who loves baseball
There Once Was a Boy Who Loved Baseball
Rubber Band Book made from Half sheets of Copy Paper, Finished size; 5 1/2″ x 4 1/4″
Decoration · Making Books with children · origami pamphlet

Books for Poetry by First Graders

 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 letters of the alphabet W, O, I, X, and V.  A title page was added, and covers were decorated with geometric shapes
Poetry Books made by First Graders
Picture 009
Poetry Books made by First Graders
Starting a Border Design

Here the student has started making a border design using the letters W, V and O.  The green paper in the middle 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.

Book Page in Progress
More Border Designs
Cat Poem Page by a First Grade Student
A Selection of Book Covers Designed using 2 1/2″ Squares
How-to · moving parts

How to Make a Paper Spring

Paper Spring to use in Book Making with Children
How to Make a Paper Spring

Here is the How-to-Make-a-Paper-Spring hand-out that goes along with the photos in the previous post.  Not only is this little structure delightful and satisfying for children to make, but I have also been told that it is a great OT (Occupational Therapy) activity which helps develop fine motor skills, and supports eye/hand development.  In any case it is fun!

Years ago, before there was a glut of ad-filled “how-to”s on the internet, I came across another version of the paper spring;  the page was translated from German.  Instead of using two strips of paper, the author described using one long narrow strip of paper, which he folded in the middle  to create a right angle.  He proceeded in a way that is consistent with my directions.   This way of making the spring is less colorful, but, otherwise, it is an elegant structure.  The author of the article called the paper spring a Mouse Ladder.   Mouse Ladder.  I like that name.

I also made a B&W Paper Spring  hand-out.

Addendum: Here’s my video for making paper spring. The method is a bit different than the hand-out, but this way of thinking about it works great with little kids. This video was first published with my post https://bookzoompa.wordpress.com/2018/06/15/the-paper-spring-in-the-classroom/

Making Books with children · moving parts

Paper Springs

How to make a paper spring
Paper Springs

There is nothing that I teach that attracts the focus of young classroom students more than the promise of a paper spring. Nothing that I teach  elicits more ‘oohs’ and  ‘aahs’ than when I show-off a completed spring.  Although it is a small element (about 1″ x 1″ x 2″)  the colors and the movement of it delights children.

Hand made paper springs
Paper Spring Line-Up

My next post will be a how-to handout on how to make a paper spring.  But, simply put, attach, at a right angle, the ends of two equal strips of paper. Alternately fold one strip over the other until you run out of paper.  That’s all.  If you like, take a look  on page 31 of a book I co-authored for Scholastic; here you will find more complete directions.  Or wait unti my next post, which will be an instruction sheet for the paper spring.

The way that I usually use this structure with children is to place it on a page under something that can be enlivened by a bit of movement.  Often, for example, at the back of the book, where there is a blurb about the student/author, I will ask students to cut out a tracing of their hand which they then  mount on a spring, so that the hand waves.

There are many other ways to use paper springs, including gluing them together, end to end.  A word of caution:  if you leave strips of paper behind for children, after having mentioned the bit about the paper chain, when you visit the classroom next you are likely find a paper chain that has aspirations of reaching China.