Math and Book Arts

Thinking about Interactive Bookmaking in the Classroom


I’m in my visiting-artist teaching season right now. This year I have some breaks between my classroom visits. This is unusual, but I am taking advantage of having more time to design some new projects. There’s a fourth grade teacher that I have worked with many times already, but I have yet to feel like I’ve developed just the right project to bring to his classroom. I’ve been playing with something completely different this year. I’m not sure that I can teach this to fourth graders, so, as is my way when I am nervous about something, I completely over-prepare.


The structure I am planning to show is tricky. Do you see what is going on here? Folded one way, the word Magnanimous in on the right, fold it the other way, it’s on the left. The back of the card looks like this:


But when opened in the other direction, the back of the card shows a completely different image:


It’s tricky, and interactive. It feels a bit magical, which I think will appeal to this group of fourth graders.  However, we’re not going to be using this for vocabulary words. My plan is that are going to work with  fractions, with an emphasis on equivalent fractions. I’m not sure how far along the class will be on their fractions unit so I’ve been making graphics like crazy, showing sets of fractions that I think the Common Core is looking for at this grade level.

fractions-Zero-to-OneIt’s tough to find the equivalents with the chart above, so I made three more graphics that pull out the patterns that I want the students to work with. Here’s one of the charts:

Halve, fourths, Eights and twelfths by Paula B Krieg
A chart to help visualize equivalent fractions

If you would like the complete set that I made, here’s the link to the Fractions PDF Fractions Zero to One. While working on this project it occurred to me that while studying fractions these students are doing something they have never done before, which is to think about numbers between zero and one. Up until this point the emphasis in school is on bigger and bigger numbers. This is their first U-turn into smaller numbers. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems to me that the studying of fractions could use a bit of levity. A what could be more flippant than a Fractions Gif? Here’s what I came up with (chances are you will have to click on the image to get it to animate. Please do.)

Fractions Gif by Paula Beardell Krieg
Fractions Gif…Click to animate

The plan is to draw the students in with playful, colorful graphic, then have them make a series of little oddly constructed cards that collect equivalent fraction groups, then make a long, pocketed accordion to store them in.

I let you know how it goes.

In the meantime, I will work on a tutorial page on how to make the cards.  See you then.

9 thoughts on “Thinking about Interactive Bookmaking in the Classroom

  1. I have to say, math brain is not my forte. I love to read your ideas and info in your posts. I dont always understand but you make me think and try. I really love your ideas and works. So cool. I know I wish my teachers had been like you.


    1. What great comment for me to wake up to this morning, Denise! If there was more of an emphasis on seeing equations as a relationship of visual elements, I think it would a more compelling to many students. When the visuals of the abstract numbers and relationships, lots of math concepts started to make more sense to me. This is something I hope to keep playing with. In fact, many years ago, it was playing with the sequence of a math equations that got me into bookmaking.


  2. I can’t figure out the structure of this book for the life of me! It’s so puzzling that the optic yellow is on the same side regardless of which way you open. Will you be writing more about it?

    I have a math suggestion for the two sides though: one way, equivalent fractions (like in your gorgeous chart) and the other way different representations (rectangle, circle, linear, discrete…)


    1. I have a deadline to meet at the moment, but it is my intention to make a tutorial page for this structure. It just may take about a week (hopefully less, though) to get to it. It’s a based on the Jacob’s Ladder pattern, but I suspect that info won’t help you much. I spent a couple of painful weeks obsessing over understanding this structure, and how to figure out an accessible way to share it. I finally figured it all out, next I will write it out.
      Thanks for your suggestion about the different representations.,…I like it.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s