Accordion Books · Making books with elementary students

Accordion Spines aka Concertinas

Books in Process, Accordion Spines
Books in Process, Accordion Spines

If you know something bookmaking you know how useful it can be for the spine of a book be  narrow accordion folds, as pages can be tipped (glued) on to or sewn into the accordion.  The big thing that I didn’t know about this structure was if I could do it with 75 3rd graders in one day.  The motivation behind doing this was to make a book  that could expand, as accordions do, to reveal pages of fractions which could help students understand the relationship between different sets of fractions.

Accordion Book With Tipped on Fraction Pages
Accordion Book With Tipped on Fraction Pages

The photo above shows the finished product, but that’s getting ahead of myself. What I want to show is how we made the folds. In the interest of full disclosure, the following photos are taken of a class of 7 fourth graders making the same book. Working with seven students in class allows me the leisure of taking pictures. When I was working with the third graders (3 classes of 25 students) I had to stay on the move.

I started out by sitting down and talking to the classes about what we would be doing. I wanted to emphasize that even though there were no “hard” to understand steps, all of the folding was just different from what they were used to doing, and it was this difference that would make it seem hard to do. So I asked them to be open to doing something different so that they would be able to be successful.

A 16" x 8" paper folded in half
A 16″ x 8″ paper folded in half

Having the middle fold in exactly the right place is so crucial to the success of the structure that I handed out the papers to the students with this fold already in place. Therefore the first thing that each  student needed to do was to unfold their 16″ x 8″ paper.

Folding the edges into the middle
Folding to the Middle

Next, one side at a time, the edges are folded to meet up with the middle fold, which henceforth will be called the master fold.

Folding the edge of the Paper to meet the further away crease
Folding the edge of the Paper to meet the further away creases

This may not be readily seen and understood, but think slowly. Open the paper flat, then fold one edge over to meet the furthest away crease, flatten. Repeat, starting from the other edge.

Foldin half again
Folded in half, like the first step

Next, open the paper flat again,Noticing that there are four “columns, in defined by folds, in the paper.  Refold in half, as in the first step so that the master fold is at the edge of the paper.

Make a new crease by bringing crease to master crease

Still with me? Now, look at the crease that is closest to the master crease, then curl the paper so that this crease meets the master crease. Press to make a crease (which is unseen, as it is between two layers of paper). Repeat with the next crease below the master crease, then flip the paper over and repeat.

Okay, you’ll end up with something like this. Actually, with my classes, we did one more fold, to make just one more accordion pleat, but I will describe that in my next post.

It’s important to have long edges to glue covers on to.

And, for now, we’re done. The  next step will be to add the fractions pages.

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