Leveling up the pattern play

IMG_8206.jpgThis fall my Fun With Letterforms class, a drawn pattern-play class meant for kindergarteners to strengthen their handwriting skills, expanded into the first & second grades. As I brainstormed what to do with folks on the first day, I tried to anticipate the several returners who would be very familiar with the patterns I’d taught them before: I didn’t want anyone to be bored! Inspired by an excellent exhibit at the Legion of Honor I’d seen earlier this year, I decided to introduce Square Word Calligraphy.

The class watched me demonstrate the concept, but seemed restless. “What about the patterns?” someone asked. Instead of paint and brushes, students picked up their trusty colored pencils and used independent work time to revisit their familiar friends the zig-zag, bump, swing, swirl, over-and-back, and (especially) flip.

The FWL curriculum’s enduring popularity encouraged me. I am eager to move into newer territory with the older students and test their capabilities relative to kindergarteners, but this experience reminded me to reinforce the students’ established skills and build incrementally upon them, rather than worry about novelty. We’ll revisit Square Word Calligraphy later!

Below are pictures of FWL Level 2 student work after we revisited Chris Van Allsberg’s The Z Was Zapped, a FWL class favorite about terrible misfortunes that befall our alphabet’s 26 letters one by one.



Mini-zine Madness

At the first meeting of Comic Book Storytelling class for 3rd/4th/5th graders this year, we made six-page mini-zines out of one computer-size sheet of paper.  Before anything else, we performed some simple “origami”: folding the pre-cut paper correctly seemed tricky at first, but students helped one another and soon we were all set.

Next, I showed them other examples of mini-zines made in similar ways, and I read mine, “Sam Scissors Hits the Street,” out loud:

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On a different sheet of paper I encouraged students to plan who their own starring character would be and what would transpire over the six pages. I also gave them a catch: whatever happened in their story, they had to draw a 3D-looking hole (which we had drawn together during our warm-up) on page two.

Some students followed my lead and had their hapless main character fall into a hole… only to discover treasure (not slime) within! Others drew things emerging from the abyss.

It was useful to have some added structure with certain caption panes already in place. See my template here: Comics Mini-zine 1 page template

Some people were really into the mini-zine medium during the session.