As part of Fireside’s Literacy Week in March, we brought in visual artist Heather Doyle-Maier to lead bookmaking workshops for each of our preschool through fifth grade classes. Doyle-Maier introduced both traditional and creative book forms. Students learned bookmaking skills and terms, explored how a book’s physical structure can influence meaning, and examined how book form and content can be intertwined.
The theme of Fireside’s Literacy Week was “A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words.” Doyle-Maier’s residency fit perfectly with that theme, helping to draw attention to how the visual elements of a book--the literal format--contribute to what a reader understands of the content.
Doyle-Maier led workshops for each grade level based on the developmental ability of students at each grade level as well as on what matched for them in terms of content. Students in the youngest grades created peg books, which are constructed with very simple bindings. Older grades crafted more sophisticated books. For example, fourth graders used their books (sewn brown-paper bags) to make a sort of scrapbook (with pockets) for their Famous Coloradans unit. Fifth graders created books with a “flower” structure (where the pages fold out to form petals) in which they published information about structures and functions of plants.
Our literacy week features a number of components, including a kick-off assembly, guest readers, and an author visit, The bookmaking residency contributed a meaningful, hands-on component to that week. It added to our celebration of books and reading!