Arts in Education · Book Art · Flexagons · Uncategorized

Designing a Seriously Fun Project

Model for a Kaleidocycle Project for Fifth Graders

Just realized I spelled “Kaleidocycle” wrong on this model for a project I’m putting together for Fifth Graders! Well, good, we’ll talk about mistakes.

Now, in case you missed my post about kaleidocycles, they are this fun paper structure whose sides rotate to reveal a surprising number of new surfaces. This style of kaleidocycle here has four completely different faces, each of which has 3 distinct areas to fill with text or designs. Sort of like a fortune teller, but more 3D.

I’m not a person who is skilled in doing hand lettering to create fancy looking phrases. Nor do I think that I can teach 5th graders to be hand lettering artists in a few class periods. But I love this art form, and am happy to be able to talk to kids about hand lettering.

We’ll be doing a project that references the first 10 amendments to the American Constitution. darn. Spelled Amendments wrong too. Ok, will make a new model with corrections. But will show both to students.

Anyone who does calligraphy or hand lettering will tell you that making spelling mistakes happens frequently when so much effort is being put into forming the letters. People with dyslexia will agree.

Here’s the project. I will talk to students about creating something like a movie title which references each of the  first ten amendments, aka The Bill of Rights (know them or lose them!!).  Students will then be given some alphabets and will trace out the letters.

It can take a few tries, but I’m anticipating that they will not have much trouble coming up with a version that I can then trace in Adobe Illustrator to create a master document.


They can also add flourishes around their words.

My version for the model that I will be showing off, featuring later amendments, looked like this when the computer work was done:I will print the student images on 28 lb, 8 1/2″ x 11″ copy paper. My plan is that each student will design just one of the 12 surfaces on this kaleidocycle (there happen to be just 12 students in this class). I will print up enough copies for everyone and we’ll spend the last of the three sessions I have with them doing cutting, gluing and decorating.

When this project is done I will take photos and post on my blog, recommending either that you try this out with your students or telling you that have to be crazy to think that this can be done as three-meeting classroom project for fifth grade students.

All will be told be the end of the first week in April. Yikes. Starting this project tomorrow, early.

Addendum: See the results


Hand Lettering and the Universe

numberuniverse w It seems I’ve completely missed something that has just now come into my conscious radar:  hand lettering. I studied calligraphy eons ago, and I am aware of typography, but I didn’t realize that there was this whole niche of creating visuals with words that is somewhere between the two worlds that I already know something about. This is how it happened. I was looking on the web for some inspiration for making some numbers that had a good feel to them.

Orange two
My own playful 2

I have never failed so miserably in finding something than when I was looking for inspirational number forms on the web. But I persevered and somewhere along the way I started noticing lovely drawn letters.  Eventually I landed on Sean McCabe’s utterly awesome site. As well as showing copious examples of his work, Sean  creates context for this art form. I have to say that it was a relief to me to realize that hand lettering was actually something that people do. It feels so odd to have just discovered this. I mean, I see hand lettering on chalk board in restaurants but it just didn’t occur to me that it happened anywhere else. I did do what could be considered hand lettering on my Stuffed Grapes Leaves book, but I somehow felt like I was cheating. threes

I’ve begun playing around with hand lettering so that I can add text that I like to  a Number Line book. The quote at the top is mine though I think that the wording needs refinement. If anyone out there has any idea what I might be getting at, and would like to help me find a better way of saying it, I am open and hoping for suggestions. I was thinking of writing “the Number Line is a lot like the universe” but, besides being problematic grammatically, it has no punch. Both the number line and the universe are infinite, both in their largeness and in the depth of every point therein. They both contain everything that’s not imaginary. And the center of each seems to be right where you are at. This isn’t meant to be a lighthearted comparison. I think that there is real merit in looking at these similarities. But more about that later. I am putting this post to bed, and hoping to hear something from someone….

In the meantime, I am hoping to learn more about hand lettering. Take a look at my pinterest board. to see some examples of work done by hand lettering artists. What a natural fit for a book artist!