Saturday, December 12, 2009

Making Books

We started something new this year in Writing Workshop. Instead of providing our students with single pieces of paper on which to write (as we have done in the past) we began the year by giving them blank books.

For kindergarten this started with just two pieces of paper folded in half and stapled at the spine. The thought behind this decision was that a book would provide an organizational structure for the students to 'tell a story' rather than limiting them with just one single piece of paper. We all tend to work within boundaries anyway (I notice this myself when I write out a Christmas or birthday card, I write until I am out of space) so why not promote more writing, rather than less?

That being stated, the children are still working within developmentally recognized stages. Some tell their stories using pictures with random scribbles (writing) while others label using familiar letters.

This new venture has been successful in promoting story telling that has a beginning, middle and end. Below is one example from a boy whose story "Lights Out!" shows him in the dark on the cover. He becomes frightened as he sleeps in his room all alone (page 1) and calls for his parents (page 2) then is happy again with his mom beside him (page 3).

All alone in the dark, which he depicted quite well I think.

The 'S' you see is for the word 'sleep' and the colors on top of him represent all of the colors in his quilt.

Mom and Dad come into the room. Notice how he uses the initial letter for each word as well as 'B' for bed.

Smiles all around.


Mickle in NZ said...

At the equivalent stage we had exercise books with cardboard covers. Each page inside had wide ruled lines on the bottom half with the top half blank for drawing the picture.

Gosh - I still have at least one of these from my first year at school back in 1970!

Dumdad said...

Great idea about blank books; and I love the drawings.

Nf1andprek-whisper said...

i am a kindergarten teacher and i enjoy your site, you have great artwork on the site, I have to learn how to scan their work and do that.
How do you get the book covers on your site the children's books?
let me know when you have time at

Pauline said...

What a great idea - it would work with second graders too, I bet. I'll try it and let you know...

Gary said...

Mickle - That is another topic of discussion. In the past we started with one page that was totally blank and slowly moved into more lines for writing and less space for drawing. But then we started to wonder if that was limiting. I bet the average person never realizes all the thought that goes into these seemingly simple decisions. We do have blank books with hard covers as well but we have not introduced those yet.

Every so often the kids publish their works (this can be adding a fancy cover or coloring) and we have a big writing celebration. Those books go into a 'kindergarten authors' bin so they can all go and read each others stories. The fantastic thing is they do! And they give one another the best feedback. I am often left thinking "oh, why didn't I think to say that?" Quite brillliant!

Dumdad - How I wish I could draw like you and the students in my class. Even they make fun of my attempts.

Nf1 - I am THRILLED that you are enjoying the blog. I have a tender spot for teachers (as you might imagine - shout out to Pauline too).

A way around scanning might be just to photograph their work and put those pictures into your computer to be easily uploaded to a blog. I will shoot you an email. Thanks for commenting. Now, I am going to hop over to your place. :)

Pauline - Our AUSSIE consultant promoted this idea at our school from something they are trying in either Australia or New Zealand (New Zealand is evidently eons ahead in literacy - shout out to Mickle). The second graders are doing it as well but their books have more pages. It has been a success all around. Let me know how it works for you.

lettuce said...

great story - the first drawing is so expressive!

Barbara said...

These pictures remind me so much of my son at that age. He could barely hold a pencil and had lots of fine motor skill challenges. He's living proof that boys eventually catch up and do quite well in school. His breakthrough came when he learned to type in the 4th grade.

I love the idea of making a book at any age.

Sebastien said...

I love the book workshop you have going. I have a feeling you will be able to exploit these kids' book creations for lots of $, hehe...

Seriously though, very awesome. I especially love that 1st drawing, the fluidity, energy, so beautiful. That's something that would look amazing as a humongous painting.

WAT said...

Wow, I used to make books on my own when I was a kid. This post takes me back.

I still have many of my masterpiece creations in a box somewhere around here.


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