Rather than let your boards always be ruled by changing seasons and approaching holidays, try an "Unfold a Story" board, an interactive class project designed for grades K-3 but adaptable to higher grade levels, to engage students in creating collaborative stories while honing writing skills any time of the year.

Making the Book

The idea is to create foldout books that students write by unfolding and filling in one page at a time:

  • Cover your bulletin board with craft paper and add a heading such as "Watch the Stories Unfold."
  • Then cut white craft paper into long strips, 10"wide by 80" long. Draw lines every 10 inches, to create seven 10"-wide pages and a cover.
  • Starting at the right, fold one page over the next. Do not fold the last page-it will be the cover. Write the title of the book on the cover, then use pushpins to tack the book starting from the left side of the board.
  • To write in the book, students remove the pushpins and unfold it to reveal one page at a time (then tack the pages in place again).
  • The cover of the book travels to the right of the board, and the page numbers count down from left to right (see photograph).

Variations on the Theme

Facts Unfold
To write a nonfiction book, on each new page students write down a subject and related facts. Set up several of these Unfold a Story boards during science and social studies units to encourage children to share information on different topics within the particular curriculum.

Unusual Events Unfold
Brainstorm uncommon events (real or make-believe) and use them to start off stories. Children will be proud to see their ideas up on the board and excited to see how their ideas evolve into stories.

Fairy Tales Unfold
To get their creative juices flowing, share some unusual retellings of familiar tales, such as The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, by Jon Scieszka (Viking, 1989), in which the wolf tells his side. Then have kids try their own.

Poems Unfold
Start the first line of a collaborative poem, then let the children build on it from one page to the next. Remind younger students that a poem can be like a tiny story and that lines don't have to rhyme.

Your students will be learning how to build a logical connection to what's already been written. And they'll be having fun. You'll be amazed at how popular the board is once kids get a taste of it!