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After reading a story set in ancient Egypt, students write, illustrate a story and construct their own books.

Chrystal Griffin, Academy of the Americas


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Note: Activity is Step 4 - 13 of a multi-session unit which took my 32 5th grade students about 6 weeks to complete. For Steps 1 - 3 see Preparation and Resources.

My language arts class is conducted in English and Spanish. One week, the students work in English with English-language textbooks. The next week, they work in Spanish with Spanish-language editions of the same textbooks. [see Preparation and Resources] All fifth-grades are basically bilingual and in class they read, speak and write in both languages. I have encyclopedias in Spanish and when using the English resource materials, I read them aloud, translating into Spanish every other week, when instruction is in Spanish. I made the language of the book an option and 21 books were written in English while 11 were written in Spanish. [See Teacher Comments section for more information about my school]

Materials:
8 1/2" 11" plain white paper for text
heavier white paper for illustrations
colored pencils (can use watercolors, also)
covers:
watercolors
acrylic paints
permanent markers
heavy card stock
clear acrylic spray
binding (our school has a spiral binding machine)

Step 4. Teacher and students brainstorm about life in ancient Egypt using Word Web chart [click to see sample] and KWL chart (What we Know, What we Want to Learn and What we Learned) [click to see sample] on the chalkboard.

Step 5. Students write their stories over 5 days, using ideas teacher has outlined in brainstorming, and their own notes of the discussion. Each story has to contain: Introduction, Setting (ancient Egypt), Characters (Tutankhamen at age 9 or 10 and the student), Problem, Resolution or some adventure that the characters have.

Step 6. Students edit their writing. Teacher holds individual "conferences" with each student to aid in editing and proofreading his or her work. Conferences took place over 5-10 days, depending on how many revisions students needed to make.

Step 7. Teacher reads and makes written corrections [click to see sample] to student stories. Students then revise their stories. During the written composition phase, I continually reviewed Word Web and KWL elements to make sure students included them. Sequence of the story was also discussed and illustrated on the chalk board. Students were referred to the Writer´s Express section on the contents of a good paragraph.

Step 8. Students divide their stories into individual pages, identifying and leaving space on some pages for illustrations to be added later. Each written page of my students´ stories was usually one paragraph long. Stories varied from 8 to 21 pages long.

Step 9. Students write a clean copy of their final story. Students also write a title page and an "About the Author" page, which was illustrated with a photograph of the student [click to see samples]. Some students used a word processor at home or school and some hand-wrote their stories.

Step 10. Students draw illustrations on separate sheets of paper and glue them onto written pages of the book.

Step 11. Students make a front and back cover by painting pre-cut card stock with yellow watercolors to achieve a papyrus-like color and look. (You need to test the cover material to make sure it won´t buckle or warp after being wet and then dried.) After the base color has dried overnight, students trace or draw illustrations in pencil, then fill in with acrylic paint. I outlined student designs with permanent markers and sprayed on a protective coating of clear acrylic (not in the classroom!). Inside covers were also decorated, using copies of designs.

Step 12. Students put books in order: front cover, title page, story with illustration in correct sequence, About the Author, and back cover. I assembled the books in class using the school´s spiral binding machine as students completed their work.

 

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