Check out these picture books! They were the results of a three-month writing and illustrating project that a second-grade teacher, Judy Bauer, and I created for the Yellow Roomers (second graders) at Blacksburg New School, in Blacksburg, Virginia. Even Ms. Bauer wrote and illustrated her own book! (Note: last names blocked out to protect the innocent!)
Each Yellow Roomer began his or her project by first selecting two slips of paper from two different cups. One slip of paper contained the name of an animal, and the other slip of paper contained an “everyday problem.” The Yellow Roomers could not change their selections.
Each Yellow Roomer then used a story template — kind of like a story worksheet — to create a story that featured his or her animal, that animal’s problem, and the way that the animal would use its individual characteristics to solve its problem.
For the next step, the Yellow Roomers received blank book dummies, in which the text from their stories had been pasted. (The copyright page, the dedication page and the title page — important components of a picture book — were also marked as such in the book dummies.) The Yellow Roomers drew quick sketches in pencil to go with the words on each page.
When the dummies were completed, I acted as the Yellow Roomers’ editor, and made suggestions in each book to encourage improvement.
The Yellow Roomers then received a hard-bound book, in which the text had once again been pasted. This time, however, each Yellow Roomer’s text was type-set in a font of his or her choosing. Using their book dummies as guides, the Yellow Roomers drew final color illustrations for the covers and for the interiors of their hard-bound books, with the aim of improving the original sketches per my edits and suggestions.
For the final stage of the project, the cover illustrations were laminated and pasted on the covers of the books; the endpapers (individually selected by each Yellow Roomer to match his or her story) were pasted in the front and back pages of the books; and bios about each Yellow Roomer were pasted in the back, as well.
And finally, the books were complete! The Yellow Roomers read their books to the Red Roomers (Kindergateners) and then hosted a Book Launch Party to celebrate their amazing creations!
While this project emphasized creativity, it also emphasized the importance of utilizing a process, accepting suggestions, and carrying out those suggestions in order to make the end result of the project even better.