About this Site and Me

My photo
Flower Mound, TX, United States
Hi, I am an artist, wife, mom, gamer and the Elementary Art Educator at Donald Elementary, a sweet and wonderful school in Flower Mound, TX (outside of Dallas). This is a great place to see how we are integrating studio habits with technology and interdisciplinary connections. I also love to share my "wisdom" (Re: Experiences. From mistakes.) about teaching Elementary Art. I love what I do, and I've been doing it for a long time. Creating and teaching Art is what I live for. Enjoy.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Books: deconstructed and altered and holy moley- these are amazing

5th grade

Some kids prefer creating in the hall so they can spread out and focus.
OK peeps, I have done this altered book project with fifth graders for a few years now, and I was kicking around the idea of not doing it this year...but...WOW I am so glad we did.

The kids really blew us away. These sculptures are beautiful and meaningful. And finished in three class periods. What??

This school year has seen a few changes in our Art program:  1:X pilot program and a more student-led direction. This allowed me to step back and let the kids decide how they wanted to create their altered book.

I started off the same:  the kids and I talked about how the world is changing rapidly, especially with technology. We talked about the benefits and downsides to tech and non-tech. These kids are so insightful and globally aware. It was exciting to talk with them.

Close up ^.^

So. Which do you prefer: a traditional book or a device? 

I like both.

 I have a copy of "The Hobbit" from eighth grade that was literally falling apart until I begged my librarian to repair it. That book is precious to me (haha see what I did there?)
Hello, friend. 

 I also have both Nook and Kindle apps on my iPad. I love them as I can have an entire series in my hand for those boring waits at Dr. offices. Or middle school pick up. Or anytime I don't want to lug fifty pounds of books around.

This was a great, I mean great conversation to have with the kids. To hear their pros and cons was awesome. They talked about the affect on natural resources to the carbon footprint from a device to backpack weight to the breakage from dropping a device. They talked about how much they like to turn a paper page to liking the ability to highlight and define words on a device.

Then the conversation turned to conservation. What happens to damaged or outdated library books?

Did you know that public school library books cannot be donated or sold? That they have to be recycled?
Just ONE box of "discard" books, with some old piano books from my kids' closet.  Those are fun to work with!

That really irritated the kids. I think this gen is, among many other things, servant based. They don't like the idea of beloved books being tossed. They do not like garbage polluting the world. So we talked about up-cycling (wiki:Upcycling).

This year, my only direction was to allow this sculpture express how they FEEL about CHANGE:

  • How do you feel about the huge change of tech vs. non tech? Book vs. device?
  • OR, how do you feel about leaving elementary school and going to a new school?
  • OR, how do you feel about changing this particular book?
  • OR, how do you feel about changes in the environment?
  • OR, ?
I left it wide open. And they stepped up.

I put a bunch of supplies out for them:

Craft scissors, rubber cement, tissue paper and cellophane, scrap papers, ribbon and beads, yarn, hole punchers, wooden sticks, cardboard tubes. Anything that has been collected and sitting around, I grabbed and left them to create. 

This project took 3 class periods, beginning to end. Including assessment in their digital portfolio. I was really impressed by the books they chose and how they altered them.

Final assessment with iPads

The kids were so excited and focused. Even kids who struggled at first got their groove on. These Altered Books are sensitive and well-thought out artistic creations of kids stepping into their teenage years. I am so proud of them:

3D pop ups


A duck pond!

Fire was a common theme...

Creature Feature

Another 3D pop up


  1. I love altered books, and have enjoyed making them with students, but, with cutting and painting and gluing and folding etc, they took my students FOREVER! Which means I am doubly impressed by your students' work. Not only are their ideas original, and their work exciting to look at, but three sessions?!?!? Wow! Kudos to you and your students!

    1. Thank you! These kids have blown me away with their originality. This is truly an example of "get out of their way and let them work".

  2. What really struck me about your post was your observation that our students truly are servant based. This has the potential to totally change our entire teaching approach if we let it. Cultivating that idea of service-oriented creation, reflection and presentation is huge. Thanks for sharing this perspective and project!

  3. You are welcome, and thank you for the kind words. I have really noticed how compassionate and caring these kids are, as compared to older kids. My daughter is a HS senior and sometimes volunteers in one of our first grade classes and even she has noticed the difference: the kids work hard to be friends with everyone, they work in groups easily and girls and boys don't separate. She was really impressed. I think next year I will explore this more with community based art and more conservation type projects. I love seeing them fired up!