Please note that all printable resources listed in the main article can be found in our new Featured Reproducibles section below.
Standards Met: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.2.2; W.2.7; W.3.2; NGSS LS1; LS2
What You Need: Pencils, square construction paper (8-by-8-inch or larger), rulers, scissors, glue sticks, markers or crayons, tape, Take Note! printable
What to Do: Have students choose an animal to research and use the Take Note! printable to organize notes on the animal’s characteristics, diet, and habitat. They will write a short paragraph on their findings. Now they are ready to construct a 3D representation of the animal’s habitat.
Students begin with a sheet of construction paper, choosing a color that would appear in their animal’s habitat (e.g., if researching an octopus, they would use green or blue). They use rulers to lightly mark the paper with an X, going from one corner to the other. Next, they fold the paper along both of these diagonal lines, and then unfold it, and cut from any one corner to the center. Finally, they slide one of the flaps under the other to fold into a standing triangle shape, using a glue stick to secure. The result will look like the corner of a box and should easily stand up.
Students then use construction paper, markers or crayons, and glue to create a habitat on the walls of the triorama, including the plants and other animals that live there. Finally, they make a 3D model of an animal in the center of the triorama, using construction paper, tape, and their own illustrations, attaching paragraphs to the edge of their trioramas.
Standards Met: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.2.2; W.2.7; W.3.2
What You Need: Standard-size copy paper, yarn, scissors, glue sticks, hole punch, pencils, markers or crayons, 5 Ws printable
What to Do: Research on inventions pairs well with this unique bookmaking project. First, have students choose an invention to research (e.g., the cell phone, the airplane). Pass out the 5 Ws printable and have them use it to organize what they’ve learned, including biographical information about the inventor, the purpose and effect of the invention, and fun facts. They’ll use the research to make a book.
Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord, an artist, bookmaker, and author who blogs at makingbooks.com, often links her bookmaking to curriculum. After working with thousands of students over the past 20 years, she has found that children cannot wait to write in their handmade books, and that “the more books they make, the more writing and learning will happen.”
On her site, Gaylord offers a “Who Am I? Book” template, which you can adapt to make a “What Am I? Book.” Students start by folding one sheet of unlined paper into equal ninths (fold in thirds lengthwise and then again widthwise). Have them cut out the four corner pieces to create a large “plus” out of the paper. They then fold in the four flaps to make a “book.”
On the center panel of the book, students write the name of their invention and add an illustration. This is the “what” from the graphic organizer. Next, they write facts on the inside and the outside of the four flaps, including who the inventor was, where he or she is from, when and why the invention was created, and any interesting facts about it. Each fact can be written on any flap.
Then, have students fold their books so the name of the invention is hidden. Punch a hole in the center of the lower edge of the top flap, and have students fold their lengths of yarn in half, pull the looped part through the hole, and then put the yarn ends through the loop. They can tighten and wrap yarn around the book to keep it closed.
When sharing books, have students study the facts on the flaps and guess the inventions inside! After sharing, discuss what they have learned.
Standards Met: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.2.2; W.2.7; W.3.2; W.3.7
What You Need: Paper squares (3¼-inch sides), scissors, pencils, markers or crayons, glue, one wooden craft cube (3½-inch sides) per student, Famous Figure Facts printable
What to Do: Researching a famous figure can inspire, teach character traits, and provide an extension for social studies units. For this project, students choose a person to study and record basic notes with facts about the person’s life and experiences using the Famous Figure Facts printable.
Tanya Hudson, a PreK–5 librarian at Chase Street Elementary School in Athens, Georgia, collaborated with her fourth-grade teacher team to create a unique culminating project for a biography study—a bio cube! Hudson, who blogs at Tree Frog Blog!, used the Cube Creator paper templates from ReadWriteThink as an artful way of helping students express their learning. A great alternative for second and third graders would be to use wooden craft cubes, which are both larger and sturdier.
After they have created their cubes, give each student six squares of paper to be glued on the six cube faces. They will write biographical facts on each piece of paper, as follows: famous figure’s name, significant life events, obstacles s/he faced, personality traits, and fun facts. For the sixth face, students create a logo that represents their famous figure (e.g., crossed swords and British currency for King George III). Hudson found the logo was a class favorite because it allowed students to “distill their understanding of their figures into a single image. It also gave visual and creative thinkers an outlet to show off their talents.”
Discuss what students have learned in small groups or with the whole class. Then, have them share their work with classmates or with others (parents, the principal or librarian, different classes) through hosting a gallery walk.
Space Trip Scrapbook
Standards Met: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.2.7; W.3.8; NGSS ESS1
What You Need: Sample scrapbook, 12-by-12-inch scrapbooking or black construction paper, scissors, glue, markers or crayons, lined paper, hole punch, yarn or ribbon (optional: glitter, stickers, laminator)
What to Do: Space is a perennially favorite topic to use for almost any project. Begin by pairing students and having them research the sun, the moon, the stars, or a planet other than Earth. Once they have collected information about their celestial body, such as size, makeup, and climate, they will be ready to begin working on pages for a scrapbook.
Before they start, have a class discussion about scrapbooks. If possible, display a sample of one to show its layout and elements, including photographs and other visuals, as well as journaling and captions. Develop a list of ideas for what might go in a scrapbook about a “trip” to outer space, starting with a paragraph on what students “saw” on the way (this will be the basis for displaying student research). Ideas for what to put in the scrapbook may include illustrations of the celestial body, original artwork and poetry, images found online, charts of key information, and fun facts.
Have students begin constructing their scrapbook pages. Each pair will need two sheets of 12-by-12-inch scrapbooking paper (or black construction paper). Ask them to create two pages of “memories” of their trip. Encourage kids to get creative and imagine they are recalling an actual trip to space. They may add embellishments like glitter, ribbon, and stickers.
Once all of the pages are complete, bind them together into a class book by punching three holes in the side of each page and tying with yarn or ribbon. For added sturdiness, laminate the pages before binding. Have students take turns looking at the book, and follow up with a discussion on what they learned from their own and their classmates’ research.
Photo: Courtesy of Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord