The Sixth Grade Curriculum:Sixth grade students use the skills and concepts learned in the fifth grade, and add new proficiencies through a complex, rigorous book project. Students learn to:
· conceptualize and design a major project (a pop-up book),
· develop project (and time) management materials,
· follow step-by-step instructions in a manual,
· use art elements and principles to create visually stimulating artwork,
· and infuse the project with their own ideas and creativity.This project is a three page pop-up book with a title page and hard cover, and will take the entire semester to complete.
We launch the project with intensive preparation. To begin, we look at a PowerPoint presentation overview of the project, using the building of a house as a metaphor. We use brainstorming and organizational skills to make a ‘blueprint’ plan of action.
Just when it seems like the planning will never end, we begin making artwork. Using the ‘blueprint’ helps students know what colors and motifs they will need for their paper. Students make a large quantity of decorative paper that is subsequently used in their books. The paper decoration techniques are creative and designed for success, so that every student has a variety of papers that can be used in the book.
Students then make the covers of their books as a group, learning to use the "Making Amazing Books" manual to follow multiple step directions, and also acquire basic gluing and paper engineering skills. I wrote the Making_Amazing_Books manual over a period of ten years, with feedback from over 3,600 Sakai 6th grade students, and as a living document, it is still in the editing process. Another PowerPoint presentation (Popup Book Layout and Design) addresses the specifics of the project, and covers the concepts of layout and design. Students look critically at sample pages, making suggestions to improve the layout and design of the pages as a group.At this point, students are ready to begin working on their individual books, and now move to independent work time. The scope of the project is quite extensive, because students make many decisions independently, thus when finished, the books are all quite individual.
Students are encouraged to tell their own ‘story’ in their pages, and there are over sixteen different pop-up and moveable structures to choose from to tell that story.After completing a minimum of three pages with moveable or pop-up structures on them, students then move on to a title page. The title page is the second invitation to look further into the book, and students are encouraged to make this page interesting and inviting, using their creativity and design skills.After making this page, students bind their books together and assemble them into the cover, which also requires design and decoration. They have then completed their project, which has been engaging and educational.See more examples in the Gallery.
At the end of the semester, we prepare our final project for exhibit at the Arts Open House night. This is an important part of the curriculum, where students have the opportunity to show their hard work,and get feedback from family and friends.