Crafty Literature Projects to Lure Language Arts Learners

Recognize National Arts and Crafts Month with language arts projects that inspire creative learning.

By Dawn Dodson

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First recognized in 1994, National Craft Month is celebrated each March. From in-store programs and promotions, to do-it-yourself classes, National Craft Month highlights the popularity of creating arts and crafts in American households. According to the Craft and Hobby Association, fifty-six percent of US households practice a craft or hobby. Capitalize on America's interest in crafting by incorporating crafts into the classroom to create pupil interest and engagement with learning. The process of applying and synthesizing learning taps into higher levels of cognition. Additionally, the activity required in creating a craft keeps reluctant pupils engaged in the current lesson. Here are three language arts project ideas that offer students the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge through crafts.

 

Creatively Quilt Literary Elements

Quilting a story is not an original idea, but it is a project that allows readers to artfully demonstrate their learning. As a part of the historical fiction genre study, the story quilt option requires three by five squares. Generally, the squares are made out of card stock or construction paper and are pieced together to resemble a quilt. The following information should be creatively displayed on the quilt squares: 

  • Pupil’s name
  • Book title and author
  • Setting analysis
  • Main character analysis
  • Plot events (exposition, narrative hook, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution)
  • Illustrated squares that picture characters, distinguishing features of setting, pupil’s favorite scene, and the story’s climax.

Illustrate Character Point of View

As an alternative to scrap book projects or written book summaries, students can work in groups to produce a photo journal. The basic objective of this project is for learners to create a story depicting the character's point of view through photos. After a class book study, each pupil creates a plan to depict the book through the eyes of a chosen character. In my accelerated language arts class, I like to use Lois Lowry's The Giver when we are making photo journals. The actual journal consists of five pages that depict various scenes from the book. Each group must take a specific scene and point of view. Then they must sketch the setting and action. Scenes are not only created by sketches, but also by using magazine and newspaper clippings, and also computer clip art. In the past, I have also had students use digital photography. By keeping the parameters of the assignment broad, pupils can use their different talents and skills to create unique and personally meaningful photo journals. The finished products are displayed or presented so that the entire class can appreciate the character's unique point of view.      

Recycled Story Settings

After your class has finished a setting analysis study, offer them the chance to create a recycled story setting. As you are progressing through a story element unit, share many short stories. Read some aloud and assign others for independent reading. Have individuals or groups choose one story and analyze its setting. The written analysis should include time, place, distinguishing features, and how the characters in the story interacted within the setting. In addition to the written analysis, learners can create a three-dimensional model of the setting. The catch is that everything used in the model must either be recycled, or objects students find at home or school. I keep a box of miscellaneous materials for this particular project, and pupils are free to use any or all of them in his/her model. This project inspires creativity and the final models are impressive!

March is National Craft Month. Taking the time to plan an assignment, class activity, or project that allows kids to demonstrate their learning in various ways is a rewarding experience. Offer your learners the opportunity to showcase their talents and interests in an enjoyable, engaging manner. Creating story quilts, journals, or recycled story settings is just the tip of the iceberg. Below you will find more ideas to help you start thinking about how to creatively engage your learners.

ELA Common Core Connections

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.3: Describe how a particular story’s or drama’s plot unfolds in a series of episodes as well as how the characters respond or change as the plot moves toward a resolution.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.10: By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories, drama, and poems in the grades 6-8 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.6.4: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

References: Common Core State Standards Initiative: http://www.corestandards.org/

Creative, Crafty Lesson Ideas:

4-H Photography Intermediate Pages

These are worksheets designed to learn about photography and to create and complete a photography project. The information and organization of this worksheet set can be incorporated into various content and project requirements. It’s a creative way for pupils to use their learning.

Pennies of My Life Part II

Pupils write their autobiographies and learn to make origami. This allows them to demonstrate both writing and artistic skills in creating their life story.

Around the World in 180 Days

Here are many creative arts and crafts ideas utilizing digital photography and various other arts and crafts examples. Pupils incorporate learning about cultures from around the world, while also sharing their own. Although this study is intensive, there are ideas available to inspire smaller activities and assignments that incorporate arts and crafts.

 


Language Arts Guide

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Dawn Dodson