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!
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.
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.
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….
….though I have to say that, regardless of the skill level, the smaller books were generally a popular choice with the students.
Enough said. If you are inclined to look further, here are a few more photos posted for your enjoyment.