Visit different areas of your school, such as the office and cafeteria, to investigate how paper is used. Ask children to consider: How much paper do we throw away? How much do we recycle? Are there ways we could recycle more? Consider taking field trips to visit the local newspaper, print/copy shop, pack-and-ship store, or even the supermarket to see all the different ways paper is used.
Through their field studies, children may notice that paper is used and changed is many ways. They may want to scientifically investigate the samples they've collected. How many ways can we change paper? (cut tear fold crumple paste, paint, dampen, soak, and so on) What do these processes do to the different kinds of paper we have? Through hands-on explorations-observing and experimenting-children not only examine the properties of paper, but they also become involved in the process of cause and effect as they see how different papers respond to specific situations.
Bring is people who work with paper is interesting ways-- an artist who works is origami, paper sculpture, papier-mache, or collage; an illustrator a newspaper journalist. Visitors can share what they do, answer questions, and provide a simple experience children can participate in. Invite family members to show how they use paper in their lives. Perhaps a parent loves to do wallpapering and would share her expertise.
Culminating and Celebrating
At the end of the project, invite children to go back to their original questions and discuss what they have learned. Brainstorm ways to celebrate your work. You might hold as art show of paper creations, create a giant paper sculpture, have a Paper Painting Party or write a class newspaper. (See Learning Centers on page 48 for additional ideas of ways to use paper in writing activities.)