I wasn’t able to get to writing a regular post this week, but this Weekend-Bookend post is something that I can get to.
“I’m going to try out posting a Weekend-Bookend image each weekend which will be sort of like a snap shot of something from my studio. These posts will be images my handmade books, drawings, details of drawings or some paper engineering that I want to show, accompanied by just a small bit of writing.”
Sometimes I make a book for no other reason than it’s something I like to do. I like folding papers and sewing them together. I like working out the details: the color and weight thread to use, which folds to make, what papers to use, what sewing pattern to follow.
I have quite a number of heavy weight black paper strips left over from last week’s school residency. This paper has a linen-like finish, it feels good in my hand, and it is rich and beautiful. I wondered what kind of small book I could make. The strips are 4 inches tall and 26 inches wide (about 11 cm x 68 cm). I folded a number of accordion pleats from the center out, left enough unfolded to so I could fold in a cover.
I have stacks of interesting papers which I like to mix up when I’m making a book. I used white, beige flecked, gray, graphing, and soft white papers, cut to 4″ x 6″.
At each stage of construction this book looked good to me. This is a reliable sign that the finished product will have some charm.
After this book was sewn together it wanted to pop open all the time. Here’s something I’ve never seen anyone write about: often books don’t seem to want to stay shut when they’ve first been made. A book like this should be placed on bookshelf, fully closed and between other books, and a week later that same book that was popping open now remains shut. It’s like the papers have to get used to the idea of having been transformed into a book.
The cover of this book is two thickness of paper, created by folding over the ends. I wanted the fold to stay shut, but didn’t feel like gluing it down, so I sewed it down, and the folded over paper became a pocket. .
There’s a pocket on the other end of book, too. I sewed one of the accordion flaps on to the cover to make a narrowe pocket.
Over the last few days I’ve made 5 or 6 of these books, trying to work out what looks best to me. The book on the left is where I started. First thing to change was the sewing. It just didn’t look good to me. I had seen as description of this linked binding and wanted to try it out, so that’s what I did. I like this change in sewing (though it used far more thread: 45″ of 4 ply waxed linen) , but it seemed to me that the signatures were too thick, so the next book the signatures were made from 5 papers rather than eight (5 papers = 10 leaves = 20 pages, and since there are three signatures, that makes this book 60 pages long). All good. But then I wanted to see if liked a more colorful spine, so I tried out purple. I’m not sure whether I like the black or the purple better, so now I’m stuck, and will stop here for now. Which is good thing because I need to get ready for teaching tomorrow.
I’ve finished up this fractions/number-line project that I’ve been thinking about. I worked with a class of fourth graders who were just starting their fractions unit. My plan from the start was to try to present a project that was dynamic enough to capture their interest. The center piece of the project was to make a “magic wallet,” which is a shortened variation of a Jacob’s Ladder. I’ve been using the name “Li’l Jacob” instead of “magic wallet” because, originally, I couldn’t remember the magic-wallet name, and Li’l Jacob seems properly descriptive. This structure opens in two different ways, to reveal two different visuals. It’s tricky, and seems magical. I am happy to report that these students were over-the-moon happy to learn how make this.
After showing the students what the finished book project would look like we dove right into making the L’il Jacobs. Making this requires a completely non-intuitive sequence of precise folding and gluing. The students have to keep track of where they are in the sequence in order to get the folding to work. I was nervous about how I could get them to see for themselves what was going on. A great surprise was that they offered me the best description I could hope for: they saw the arrangement of papers and immediately recognized it a human figure, legs and torso. Perfect! Now I was completely convinced that I would continue calling this a Little Jacob.
The students decided that this next step was best described by saying that they were covering Jacob’s innards.
As the sequence of folding continues, the Jacob becomes smaller. (Notice the paper that student is using to protect the desk from getting mucked up with glue.)
The last fold reduces the paper into a square.
Each student made four Li’l Jacobs. Each of these had a set of equivalent fractions written on and in it. But we didn’t even start with the fraction labeling until the third class. Our second class was about making the book that was going to hold our fraction cards.
We folded a 33″ x 4.5″ paper int halves, then quarters, then eighths, to make an eight page accordion. I know that most people don’t have access to paper this size, but with a some thought this can be created by combining smaller sheets of paper.
Students then made origami pockets out of 5.5″ squares of paper. Starting with the second page, these were glued on to every other page of the book.
Next came the cover. The book needed an extension so that the number line could start at zero. To accomplish this we attached an extra long cover piece then folded it over. I know I’ve explained that badly, so I hope the pictures above are adequate explanation.
Finally we were ready to label the Little Jacobs with equivalent fractions. I talked to students about how fractions could be a way of counting to one: one-fourth, two-fourths, three-fourths, four-fourths(one). I showed them my animated zero-to-one gif and some static images of equivalent fractions but they seems to like the image above the best. We circled the columns of fractions equivalent to eighths. The really seemed to get the concept, and kept referring to it as they did their labeling.
The picture above is my sample that shows the labeling, with different ways to write equivalent fractions, as well as a simple addition problem, using the fractions.
Here are some images of the students finished books.
The even pages hold the fractions in the pockets.
On the odd pages, students wrote out the fractions. These fractions had no equivalents on our chart. Forth graders don’t do fractions beyond the twelfths, so 1/8, 3/8. 5/8, and 7/8 stand alone.
Some students were more inclined than other to do decorations on the books.
One thing that was wonderful about this class was that the students were incredibly helpful to each other. I could have never gotten this far with this project if I had to problem shoot with each child individually. The students who grasped each step were enthusiastic about working with a classmate that didn’t quite get a step.
We lined up the fractions so the eighths showed, thus showing the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 in the numerator. By the end of my third meeting with these students, just about everyone had finished with their books. This is one class that I can say is excited about equivalent fractions.
Last Wednesday, and each Wednesday during this month of March, I will be working on a project with third graders. This is an ambitious project that links the student’s research about various countries with lots of bookmaking. We first make a large folder with pockets, which we refer to as a suitcase, then students make small handmade books in these pockets. These small books will be filled with writing and pictures relevant to the country that each student is studying.
There are SMART Boards in each of these classrooms. This means that when I draw out the instructions for making the books the teachers can click on a “Save” button and save what I have drawn. I often try to erase the drawings before the save because I start off drawing big and end up squeezing in the last steps, which makes for a silly looking set of instructions. But erasing the steps before the students can complete them is silly too.
This past week a light went on in my head: if I draw out what I want the students to know and save it on-line then I can link the SMART Board to my image….not only that, but I can email the links of the appropriate images to teachers before I meet with them. This can facilitate easy retrieval of my tutorial pages, and it can also be stored as a reference, thereby empowering the teachers to re enforce the bookmaking techniques after my residency is over.
Oh, last week we made a simple accordion, like in the drawings above. I then taught a couple of pop-ups to put in the valley folds. That will be what the next handout will be about.
In the meantime, the snow is showing some signs of melting here. Notice that the hand pump is emerging from the snow. We can see our picnic table now. But last week after a thaw, followed by rain, then freezing rain, I had to call and postpone working at a school because my car tires were completely frozen into a 6 inch puddle of ice.