# Paper-Quilting Squares with Second Graders

Yesterday was paper-quilt square day with second graders. This is the central graphic of the Western Expansion project that this group started last week.

Although this project is designed to align with this class’s curriculum, I have to say, this quilting part has great possibilities for as a summer project.

Although I’ve been playing around with rhombuses in squares (along with my friend Malke)I hadn’t yet mixed rhombi and squares together within the same square. This may sound like a small detail, but it creates the possibility to make many new decisions. What I provided was some samples to hint at the wide range of  choices students could make, colorful papers that had squares and rhombuses on them ready to cut, and a kind of complex looking white template.

I tried to get these second graders to see the rhombuses as well as the squares and the triangles in this map of shapes. I wasn’t sure if they’d get it. Maybe second grade is too young to be able to make sense out of all these lines?

Ha! Some students struggled more than others, but they absolutely were able to make sense of this, and make some great designs.

Some students added their own graphics to the papers that I gave them.

Some students created miniature designs for the covers of the journals that they made during a previous class.

Here’s a nice sequence, showing the first steps of one student’s work…..

…and here it is, nearly done. For the most part students used cut-paper as their medium, but finishing off some of the small spaces with marker was a great way of working.

The students in the classroom went wild over the piece in the above photo. . The young man who created it had a long explanation for the choices he made, and his classmates were riveted by his reasoning.

Students needed only about forty minutes to design and assemble their squares.

We finished off this project by making the crisscross which held their journal in place (I gave very little direction on how to do this: mostly I just said, “can you figure this out?’ to which to replied yes or no, but in either case they did figure it out themselves. I just helped them make a knot in the back that kept the yarn from being saggy)

Then students glued on their title, added in the writing they had already created, and most of them drew a covered wagon on the front, which I had done with my sample, but I hadn’t anticipated that they would want to do as well. Without further explanations, here are some more close ups of the rest of this really engaging project.

And, last photo, here’s what the paper table looked like when we were done.

# Five Days of Summer Workshops with 3rd and 4th Graders

In the summertime, when school is not in session, I’m on my own in terms of deciding on what kinds of projects that I want to teach in workshops. Last week I taught for five days  at the local community center.  My sessions with the kids were 40 minutes long, and although I prepared for 30 rising third and fourth graders, there was no telling how many students would attend each day. I had originally thought I would make a plan for the week, but quickly realized that it was more satisfying to create projects each day based on what I found interesting in the children’s work from the day before.

My own goal for the week was to do explorations with shapes and symmetry.  On Day 1 we made a four-page accordion book and did some cut-&-fold to make pop-ups. The students were amazing paper engineers;  With impressive ease, they created inventive structures.

There were plenty of counselors in the room, and from this very first project, these counselors joined right in with creating their own projects.

I was so impressed with the students’ folding skills that the next day I helped them create an origami pamphlet that contained more pop-ups, as well as some interesting other cut-outs. What turned out to be the most interesting work on Day 2 was how much the kids liked the little bit of rotational symmetry that I encouraged them to do: I gave them each a square of paper, asked them to trace it on to the cover of their book, then rotate it and trace again.

These students like the shapes created by shapes, so the next day I brought in a collections of shapes and asked them to arrange tracings of these shapes on a piece of heavy weight paper, which was folded in half.

Students seemed to enjoy creating these images.

After they created the outlines they added color.

When the coloring was done we folded the paper, and attached some pagesto the fold so that the students had a nice book to take home. The kids seemed to like this project and made some lovely books, but I ended up  feeling like there wasn’t anything particularly interesting going on with this project in terms of explorations of building with shapes. So …

…the next day I brought in colored papers that were printed with rhombuses, as well as some white paper printed with a hexagon shape. Each student filled in their own hexagon with 12 rhombuses.

My plan for this project was to have each student make their own individual hexagon then put them all together on a wall so that it would be reminiscent of a quilt.

Here’s our paper quilt made from 22 hexagons!

The next day, Day 5, was my last day at this program. I liked the engagement with and results of how the students worked with shapes when they were given structure. There’s a balance that I try to honor of providing structure while allowing individual choices. For my last day, then, I decided to give the students a page that I created that is based on the geometry that uses intersecting circles and lines to create patterns.

If you look closely at the photo above you’ll see many different lines and curves overlapping and crisscrossing.

I asked students to look for shapes that they liked, to use the lines that they wanted to use, and to ignore the lines that they did not want. It was interesting to watch how the students worked; I was particularly interested in seeing how some children chose to start looking at designs starting in the center, while other children gravitated to the outside edges first.

Some students filled areas with color, while others were happy to make colorful outlines of shapes.

Some drawings were big and bold.

Some drawings were delicate and detailed.

I think that every one of the teenage counselors sat and made their own designs, right alongside of the students. Actually, I think that my favorite unexpected outcome of the week was how involved the teenagers got with the projects.

This last project of the week was my own personal favorite (though the quilt project runs a really close second). I had never done anything quite like this before with students, and was really surprised to see how much they enjoyed this work, and how differently they each interacted with the lines and curves. This kind of surprise is what’s so great about summertime projects.