Touring Bookmaking Through the Grades
March 23, 2016
Every year I go to a visit a small school in the Adirondacks. Over the a course of six days, spread through a few weeks, I work with students from Pre-K through seventh grade. Taking into consideration that I will be seeing the same students year after year as they get older I have opportunities to reinforce skills while being challenged to present books that are different enough from each other so that each year is a new bookmaking adventure for the students. Here’s a not-t00-detailed overview of this year. Many of these projects I’ve written about in detail in previous years. I like the idea of putting them all in one post.
Pre-K students start with their own personal number line: their own hands. This takes just one session, so next time I see them we start a new project.
The next two times I met with Pre-K we made letter lines, featuring the letters of the student’s name. Everything from writing their letters,working sequencially, stringing yarn through the holes of the pre-punched cards, creating a pattern with the beads, and figuring what to draw on the back of each card (something corresponded to each letter of the name, such as a snake on the back of the s card) was challenging but doable, enjoyable, and instructive.
Kindergartners started their project by first making an four unit accordion book, then making five origami pockets. These pockets are challenging to kindergarteners but most of them grasp how to make them by the time we’re on our third pocket. It can be very sweet watching them help each other with this.
The pockets and accordions are joined together to make Word Family books. Each pocket is assigned a vowel, and the pockets will contain words that go along with its vowel. Students do some decorative patterning on their covers, AABB and ABAB patterens.
First Graders do a different kind of four-unit folding. These units fold into each other, and also include a pocket, which is filled with research that students have done. The books open up into a diorama. Along the way, we do cut domino shapes into squares, cut squares into triangles, and use these pieces both structurally (to secure the pocket) and decoratively, to frame the map inside the book.
The students make a winter landscape inside the book, which includes Northern Lights, mountains that are much more edgy than the sloping mountains of the Adirondacks, a pop-up of the native tree of Alaska, and a furry native bear.
Second graders start with making the origami pocket, but this time it’s with a large 15″ square paper, which we use to store the pieces of their books while we are working on them. The structure they make, the origami pamphlet with a secret room, is one of the most useful and amazing structures in my toolbox. It’s complicated and easy, and always delights students.
These student wrote poems for their books, used geometric elements for decorations…
… and drew wonderful illustrations for their secret rooms in the book.
I generally don’t have much time with the third graders so each year the third grade project is to make a simple book bound with at rubber band. There are a few things I like to focus on with this project. First, I like to advance their skill of being able to accurately fold a piece of paper in half. They learn to fold towards themselves, and to hold the paper firmly while they use their other hand to slide across the page to make the fold. I let the students pick from a variety of colored papers because I want to give them the sense that if they are making their own books that they can choose whatever sorts of paper they want to use in their books.
I also talked to these third graders about how to thoughtfully use decoration in their books. These kids decorate with enthusiasm.
This year I created a fractions-book project for the fourth graders. We folded copy paper into fourths, eighths, and twelfths, and made them into books about fourths, eighths and twelfths.
The book of eighths has the number line from zero to one printed on each page, which student label with the appropriate fraction, but in the book of fourth students made their own little number line and labeled it.
Students liked all the little books that they made for this project, and expressed to me that it helped them with their fraction sense. I hope so!
A few of the students in this fourth grade class had time to do a short second project, base on the idea of creating faces with Cuisenaire rods. which referenced work I had seen done by Simon Gregg’s class in France and by Malke Rosenfeld’s daughter’s class in Indiana. It was an interesting project, which I recommend. Look at the links for Simon and Malke to get a sense for what this project includes.
Fifth graders have been studying the constitution so we created this cascading book created with a series of 10 inch origami-folded squares. The text referenced amendments that all had to do with voting. Students examined how constitution reflected the evolution of values so that it, in increments, made it possible for more and more people to vote.
These cascading books fold into tight little squares. Whenever I introduce this project to students I start off by showing them the square. They are not impressed. The I let the pages fall, and their expressions change, reflecting sheer delight. We added in more dimensional elements to these books, makes their reveal even more dramatic.
Sixth graders make a more sophisticated version of the third grade book, using larger heavier weight papers. The sixth grade English teacher collects these books as uses them as memory catchers, which hold stories and pictures of the students.
One of the conditions that I imposed on the students was that they use some specific design motif in their book, specifically translations, reflections, and glide reflections. I made some sample for them so that they would know what I was talking about, then they did some really fine work.
Seventh graders make the most sophisticated looking books of all. The students fold and tear papers from large sheets, down to a size that will make a good size book. We use Japanese book cloth for the spines, sew in the book blocks with linen thread, and use decorative paste papers for embellishments. The English teacher uses these books for a project in her class. The students that make these books do a really fine job, By the time these students are in seventh grade they have been making books with me every year since kindergarten, and they know their way around bookmaking.
A long long post! But it’s fun for me to see all these books in one place. Hope you enjoyed the tour.