The Year in Review
Students craft memory books of their top 10 favorite moments of the past school year.
- Grades: 3–5
- Unit Plan:
In this lesson, students will create a memory book that is a compilation of pictures and descriptive captions from the current school year that is coming to a close. Students will sequence the major events of their year in chronological order as they create a photo journal.
- Select 10 significant memories from the past school year.
- Sequence the events in chronological order.
- Write descriptive captions for each picture.
- Create a time line for the year.
- Publish a yearbook or binder with a cover.
- Chart paper
- Digital/real photos taken throughout the year
- Digital camera and printer
- Glue sticks
- Paper and pencils
- Scissors: I use both plain and those with various scalloped edges
- 9- by 12-inch construction paper in assorted colors
- Coloring materials such as crayons, colored pencils, and markers for publishing
- Binding machine/binding (optional)
Set Up and Prepare
- If you have taken digital pictures throughout the year and saved them, look through your files and, if necessary, organize them into computer folders categorized by event. My categories are usually field trips, assemblies, special events, holidays, curriculum, and various project titles. If possible, save all the digital photos into a shared file for students to access in the computer lab or on classroom computers.
- If you cannot save the photos to a shared file, print them as thumbnail photos that students can look through in order to choose those they would like printed.
- Create a model of a photo with a caption.
- Take a digital picture of the entire class and save it in the shared file. If that is not possible, print one 4- by 6-inch copy for each student.
- Have paper and art materials available for use.
Step 1: Ask students to recall some of their favorite events from the past year. Record answers on the board or on chart paper so they may be referenced later. When a substantial list has been generated, ask students to make a top 10 list of their most favorite things about the school year that is nearly over.
Step 2: Using your school computer lab or classroom computers arranged in centers, have students visit the shared file of digital photos in order to find pictures that match events in their top ten lists. Tell students that the goal is to find at least 8 pictures they would like to print that will best help them remember the school year. Remind students that these 8-10 photos should correspond as closely as possible with their top 10 list and that they should be imaginative when choosing their photos; pictures of themselves working on writing could match any project they did all year that involved a writing assignment.
Step 3: Have students copy and paste the photos into a word processing document. No more than two photos should go on one page. Then, students should print each page in color if possible. Note: If you are printing the photos for students from those they selected from thumbnails, also place no more than two to a page.
Step 4: When students have gathered all of their photos, they should put them in chronological order — the year, from start to finish. Have the students cut out their pictures then glue these photos onto sheets of 9- by 12-inch construction paper. Again, there should be no more than two photos on one piece of paper.
Step 5: Underneath each photo, have students write a caption that describes the picture and tells what the event meant to them. Model this beforehand for the students so they understand that captions are brief and do not go into great detail. If possible, students should include the date when they write about their events. If students write the captions on the computer, then the captions should be glued under the corresponding picture in the year book.
Step 6: When students have completed writing about their favorite events, have them put the pages of the book in order. There will be pictures on the front of the pages, but the back pages will be empty when they are put together into book format. On these back pages, have students add other memories from the year. These might include, a favorite project or unit, the best book they read, a really funny moment, the best day of the year, their favorite school lunch, their best friends, something that they wish they could do over, etc.
Step 7: Let the students create their own cover page using a publishing or word processing program. Next, they copy and paste the class photo onto the cover page they have designed. I have students include the year, their name, and their teacher's name. Print this page and glue it onto construction paper. Laminate for extra durability. If students do not have the ability to cut and paste a class photo into another document, students should glue the class photo to a sheet of construction paper and decorate around it including the school year's date, the teacher's name and anything else they deem pertinent.
Step 8: Use a binding machine to put the yearbooks together. The back page of the cover should be left blank and students can write the word "Autographs" at the top. When the book is complete, allow students to decorate the different pages with stickers, stenciled titles, etc.
Step 9: When everyone has completed their yearbook, allow students to share their work with others during a class "End of the Year Autograph party." During this time, allow students to write positive messages to each other and sign their names.
Supporting All Learners
Students who moved in later in the year will not have as many memories as others and may feel less inclined or left out while doing this project. Have those students focus on the time they did spend in your room. Using a digital camera, take some photos that include the student with new friends and in new situations in order to give him/her a solid base from which to work.
- To give the yearbooks a "scrapbook" effect, have students mat the pictures on different color decorative papers and use scalloped scissors to trim decorative edges.
- Have students create a pull-out time line that includes all the months of the year. Students can highlight all of their favorite events on this timeline and also include events that happened in the local, national, and world news throughout the school year.
Inform your parents in a note or through your class newsletter whenever you begin a new unit in language arts. Parents would be very helpful in binding the yearbooks or perhaps supplementing your photo collection with images that they may have taken during the school year.
- Write a list of their top 10 favorite events of the past school year.
- Select digital images that represent their favorite events.
- Write captions to match each photo.
- Create a cover for their yearbook.
- Sequence all the pages chronologically.
- Did students have a clear idea of what their purpose was?
- Did you provide adequate time for each step?
- Did you brainstorm enough ideas together?
- Did you model enough for students to complete the assignment independently?
- Were students of all abilities able to complete this lesson successfully?
- Did students enjoy sharing their yearbooks with others?
- What would you do differently next time to improve this lesson?
- Were the students able to choose pictures that represented their favorite parts of the year?
- Did students write captions that described the pictures appropriately?
- Did the students work together well while putting the yearbooks together? Were they offering constructive suggestions?
- Was the finished product quality work?