Pop Ups with more Pop ups

Pop Ups with more Pop ups

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.

Making Pop-ups in an Accordion Structure

Making Pop-ups in an Accordion Structure

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.

Pop-up Worksop

Pop-up Worksop

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

Overlapping Rotated Squares

Overlapping Rotated Squares

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.

summer squares 3

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.

Tracing Shapes to Create  More Shapes

Tracing Shapes to Create
More Shapes

Students seemed to enjoy creating these images.

summer shapes 2

After they created the outlines they added color.

Colored Shapes

Coloured Shapes

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 …

Building Stars and Hexagons with Regular Rhombuses

Building Stars and Hexagons with Regular Rhombuses

…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.

Making a Hexagon with a Star in the Middle

Making a Hexagon with a Star in the Middle

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.

Paper Hexagon Quilt

Paper Hexagon 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.

A work in progress by one of the couselors

A work in progress by one of the counselors

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

summer geometryI 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.

summer geometry 8

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

summer geometry 2Some drawings were big and bold.

summer geometry 5

Some drawings were delicate and detailed.

summer geometry 4I 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.

summer geometry3

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.

Detail of Paul Johnson Pop-up Book

Detail of a Paul Johnson Pop-up Book. Can you see what’s going on here at the edge of the book?

“A pop-up needs a fold:” this is what I say whenever I  begin showing a class how to make a pop-up. Ha! Turns out I was wrong!  Paul Johnson’s  show at the North Main Gallery in Salem N.Y. has authoritatively proven me to be completely mistaken. Throughout this generous celebration of structurally engineered books  there is not a fold, in or out of sight.

Paul-Johnson-Pop-up-Book-3

Paul-Johnson-Pop-up-Book

This is not a show of books with pages that turn to reveal a sequence of cleverly folded and glued structures that seem to magically jump off the page. Instead, in many cases, the books themselves begin as appearing rather flat, then they simply explode into space. And it’s not folds or glues that are responsible for these feats. It’s …

HInged Roof, Paul Johnson

Hinged Roof, Paul Johnson

hinges. Well bust my britches, I never thought about creating non-folded hinges for pop-ups  The roof piece above is joined together by making opposing slits in two separate pieces of paper. Johnson also makes good use of piano hinges -this link is a piano-hinge-tutorial by Wendy Southin- as well as dovetail joints, which I have to say I have never seen a bookbinder use in paper engineering.

PauL Johnson book, detail of attachments

Paul Johnson book, detail of attachments

It was not just a few books here, but rather a plethora of book structures and book sculptures, each one as unusual as inventive as any I’ve seen. Now I know I haven’t stepped back here and given you much of the big picture: that’s more than I can process for one post. The overall look of the show is stunning, as is each book in the show. But those photos will have to wait for a later post. It’s the details that I am so intrigued with today.

Cinderella's-tricycle, Paul Johnson

Cinderella’s-tricycle, Paul Johnson

This show, it’s quite a ride. Up until October 4.

Books written by Pual Johnson

Books written by Paul Johnson

Oh, and if you are an educator and you are wondering if this is the same Paul Johnson who writes prolific amounts about Literacy and Book Arts, yes, this is him.

pop-up House tutorial by Paula Beardell Krieg

Pop-up House tutorial
by Paula B Krieg

Here’s a tutorial page on what I consider to be the absolutely hands-down best first pop-up to teach to students of any age: the Pop-Up House.

Sometimes I will work with a class of kindergarten students just once, so I try to teach these youngsters something that they can do not only when I am there guiding them, but, also something that they can do on their own. This little house shape fits the bill exactly.

Here are the challenges with very young: it’s important that, when folding the paper in half that the crease is sharp, meaning that it is folded really well. It’s great if the paper is folded evenly, but that part is less important than the tightness of the crease.  Sometimes I will pre-fold the paper for young students, but I seem to do that less and less. If I have the time,  it’s worth slowing down to teach these kids how to make a good, even fold. Many five-year-old aren’t ready to notice or care how evenly the paper is folded, but some of the students are ready, and it’s really fun to see them work carefully and successfully.

Although this is a house shape there seems to be no end to the different ways children embellish their handiwork: it’s a crown, a rocket ship, the back of a dinosaur. Next post here will be a sampling of some of the many ways young people play with this structure.

One last thought for now: I generally don’t do much teaching around the holidays, but it seems to me that this could be a great idea for holiday card. Decorate the house with lights. Maybe someone is on the roof, or there’s something special in the night sky. Or the family is gathered at the house, there could be candles in the windows. Lots of ways to go with this.

%d bloggers like this: