March 22, 2013

Creating Picture Books with Kids: Introduction and Initial Research

Over the past several weeks I've had the pleasure of working with a group of elementary school students and a team of parent volunteers on a project called, "Writing Fractions Stories for First Graders." It has been a really fabulous experience, and I thought I would share the details here. Today I'll introduce the project and cover the "initial research" phase. In future posts I'll share more details about how we got from initial ideas. . .


. . . to the finished products: 

The focus of this learning experience was to provide math and literacy enrichment to the fifth grade students. The students were charged with writing and illustrating an original fictional story, geared for a first-grade audience, that incorporated a math lesson (in this case, information about basic fractions). The culminating event for the project was the fifth grade author/illustrators making an author visit to their "first grade buddy classroom." 

To launch the project, we had the kids do some worksheets/story problems that incorporated fractions, then we discussed what they liked/didn't like about these worksheets/story problems. Next, I read aloud a sample picture book that incorporated fractions: "Jump, Kangaroo, Jump," by Stuart J. Murphy. (If you click on the link associated with the book title, and then click on the "search inside" option available on the cover image on the left side of the screen, you can see a sample of the interior of the book). 

We also took a quick look at "Ed Emberely's Picture Pie," (by Ed Emberley). This is a REALLY COOL book that shows how different illustrations can be made using "parts" of a circle. (The "search inside" feature is also available via the book title link above). 

The first class meeting ended with my encouraging the kids to start noodling storyline ideas that they might use for their own books. The next meeting we did a more thorough research process to investigate other authors' books. I'll  cover that process, and the books we explored, in a future post. 

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