Western Expansion, Bookmaking project for Second Graders

Western Expansion, Bookmaking project for Second Graders
Western Expansion, Bookmaking project for Second Graders

Yes, it seems late in the school year to be writing about new classroom projects with students, but some schools actually do go full tilt right up until the very last moment. Currently, I am in the middle of a project with one such school. Our subject is their Western Expansion unit.  I will put up photos of student work as their books develop, but for now, my here’s sample to supplement my ramblings about what I thought about when designing this book.

Because it’s Western Expansion, I knew that I would want to incorporate maps and a compass rose.

Because it’s second graders, I wanted them to have a book that is dynamic in unexpected ways.

Because it’s me, I wanted to figure out ways to address their math curriculum, which, right now (lucky for me) is all about geometric shapes.

The image above shows the cover on the book, featuring a compass rose, which students color. They label the four main axes themselves.

(unrelated note: from Merle Tenney, Language Technology Consultant, “axes is the only word in English that can be the plural of three different singular noun forms–ax, axe, and axis.”)

aerial view of the book
Aerial view of the book

The aerial view of the book shows that it’s a variation of an open gate fold. There are many folds that need to be done accurately, but with just one small mark on the paper that’s one-third away from the edge of this paper -which is 23″ long (and 8″ high),- students were able to reference their last fold to make their next fold. I have to brag, every one of these students grasped the concept of letting the previous fold guide the position of the next fold. I tried to emphasize that paper-folding is all about seeing relationships.

First unfolding
First unfolding

The first unfolding reveals a page for writing on the left, a place for a rubber-band bound journal on the right, and a little accordion that holds four maps. As the structure expands you can see an interesting graphic peeking  through.

Western Expansion book, expanded
Western Expansion book, expanded

Finally. two more writing sections are revealed and the pages of the accordion lengthen out. The inner pages will have a list of some essential items that need to be packed by the travelers who are going West in a covered wagon  (such as containers for water). On the right there a page to list the intangible values that should come along on the trip, such as cooperation, communication and compassion.

Expanding West
Expanding West

Here’s a close up of the maps. Students colored in  four images of the US, starting with the thirteen original colonies, then the addition of lands by 1783, followed by lands that were acquired in the early 1800’s, then the mid 1800’s.

Quilting Square
Quilting Square

Of course families moving West will be using their fabric bits to make quilts. I’ve been scheming on how facilitate making quilting pieces using paper templates. I will be devoting a whole post ( an a whole classroom session) to the “quilting squares” that the students make.

My plan to print plenty of copies of the guide-pieces above, and talk to the students about the shapes and ways that they can go together.

Here’s a PDF of pages I created to use for this book:Western Expansion full set for web

Now, back to prepping for tomorrow.

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