So this week was the last week of term and now we're on a 10 day break before diving into the 4th and final term. I wanted to think of a fun way to keep my students writing in the holidays. I can't rely on them having access to writing material at home and I also believe strongly that when children have been involved in the process of making their own resources, they simply LOVE and engage with them more actively.
Enter ZINES! Zines are basically diy books made from folding single or sometimes multiple pieces of paper. They are a whole publishing subculture especially popular among artists and activist but they also have amazing applications in the classroom.
I wanted to design a zine that would allow my children to write some news or short stories during the holiday, including space for them to draw pictures. Each child folded and decorated their zine and then took them home.
Here's how we made our zines!
First I made a template by folding my own zine, designing a simple front cover and drawing 'writing lines' on each page inside. I chose to pre-title it (I called it 'Seven Small Stories') but later in the year I will definitely do more open-ended zine making where kids can design their own zine from scratch.
Next I photocopied one template for each of my students. Then I started directing them step-by-step in how to fold their zines. At each step I went round the class to help children who were struggling. Folding a zine requires quite refined fine motor skills as the paper needs to be folded precisely, so it is definitely a challenging activity for 6 - 7 year olds. Read more about how to fold a zine at this useful zine website (not my own).
...And lastly the children personalised the front cover of their zine by writing their name, drawing a picture for the front cover and colouring it in. I am so excited to see how they use their little writing zines in the holidays!
I intend to write a whole lot more about developing writing literacy, especially in ESL learners AND I also intend to write a whole lot more about how zines are an absolutely brilliant way to do this. If you enjoyed this post, read more snapshots about learning in my classroom!
This activity rocks for so many reasons. I especially love it because it shows the versatility of paper and its potential for making 3-dimensional creations. I love how practically and expressively it allows children to explore line and form, the flat but pliable paper strips bent and twisted into extra-ordinary shapes and arranged in energetic compositions. It is accessible, inexpensive and most of all really, really fun.
This is an idea that I originally saw on Pinterest and there are many iterations all over the web, so it is very hard to tell where it originated. Practically it is very easy to execute. I cut some fresh paper strips, but also collected off-cuts over the months, whenever I trimmed card for other projects.
This was my second year trying it and while it was successful and fun last year too, my impression was that this year my students took to it more daringly, with far less reliance on my guidance. I can't pin down exactly why this might be. Perhaps I explained and demonstrated the activity more clearly? Comparing pedagogical approaches from year to year can be difficult because there are so many factors at play - just having a different bunch of kids can have a huge impact on how an activity is taken up.
It was also interesting to notice a few high achieving students who were really anxious to be given such open-ended instruction and for whom the freedom to play and create equated to a scary uncertainty. And at the same time, some students who struggle tremendously with traditional school work, especially fine-motor control, took to it with joyful gusto.
To me this kind of activity forms an essential part of a balanced early years program and it is especially important because it reaches kids who don't thrive at more structured, traditional school activities.
Read more snapshots here, or explore my Instagram @katiencounteract.
A daunted but determined teacher irons out the creases of her brain.