Friday, August 2, 2013

End of Summer Story Camp

The summer started out with a week of Animal Art, progressed into "Hippie" art, and ended with this week's Story Camp. I've had this idea in my head for a while, but haven't had the opportunity to put it into action until this week. The idea is that a group of kids, in this case 11 kids between age 6 and 11, collaborate to create a picture book in the span of a week-long camp. Thanks to the Carnegie Center for the Arts in Turlock, CA for giving me this opportunity!

Day 1 - Brainstorming

I spent the first part of our 3-hour day thinking about the types of books we could produce. I passed out several samples including and ABC book, a counting book, poetry, a concept book and what I like to call a "process" book -- one that explains how to do something, or how something comes to be. I'll admit that I was partial to this idea at the start... something like Lois Ehlert's "Growing Vegetable Soup".
But, kids will be kids. They had their own ideas. They said "what about crazy, funny stories?" I said, hmm, won't it be a little hard to collaborate on ONE story that has a beginning, middle and end? But, lets brainstorm some ideas.
In the end, we all agreed that we could use one of the ideas as a thread connecting a lot of the other ideas into one story. And so the "Sonic Time Pod" came into existence. Each kid came up with a little mini-adventure using a time machine. The Time Pod had apps that take you different places, as you can see.
The device

As an introduction to the block printing process, I had the group come up with an image of what this device might look like. Then we each created a styrofoam "plate" to practice the printmaking process. OOPs. Writing is a tricky thing in printmaking. But, after a couple of mistakes, they learned that the writing must appear backwards on your plate in order to print correctly on the paper. Whew.

Day 2 - Story Mapping and First Illustration

The kids each created a story map for the place that they would visit using the Sonic Time Pod. We talked about using our senses to imagine what the place might be like. And we ALL agreed (really it was my rule) that there would be no weapons or violence in our story. Its just a thing with me.
Story Map

Then the kids set out to sketch their first illustration idea. After that, the idea was transferred onto the styrofoam plate using a ballpoint pen. When they were ready, they started the printing process. I created a cover and an introduction.
Sketch on the left, and styrofoam printing plate. Remember, NO WORDS.

My goal was to print a complete book for each kid, and one for me. A total of 12 books. This part got a little messy. But on the whole, they did a great job cranking out 12 prints each of their first illustration.
We got pretty messy. I'm sure there must be a neater way.

At the end of day 2, we took some time to work on the writing process. I took the text home that night and typed it up for the next day. Wow. Spelling.

Ian's first illustration, plate and finished print. Krakatoa, before the eruption.
We used all available counter top space, and a very large drying rack.

Day 3 - More pages

On day three, the kids spent most of the day producing more illustrations. But first, they edited the first day's text, and added another bit for the second illustration. My goal was for everyone to have at least 3 illustrations, and accompanying text. Everyone met that goal, and some far exceeded it. The tough part was making sure that the illustrations were clear and meaningful, and that the story held together, despite it being written by eleven different kids.
Sam's sequence of events.

Day 4 - Even more pages

We had to finish all the illustration and text on Thursday in order for it to be ready to assemble on the last day. So final touches were put on writing. And a few more illustrations completed. I encouraged a couple of the older kids to try putting a little second color on. I had intended to do one illustration with 2 colors for everyone, but the younger kids weren't really up for it.
Just a touch of 2-color on this dinosaur picture... the comet. Awww.

Day 5 - Collating, binding and final touches

I used nearly a ream of paper to print out all the pages, with the text in place. With all the illustrations, it came to 42 pages! First thing this morning, we used yarn to tie the pages together.
Yarn binding method not so good.
Then we played follow the leader around the room, picking up one each of the 40 illustrations. Then, the kids spent most of the remainder of the day cutting out the pictures and pasting them onto the text pages. They all realized that if they made a not-so-good print, or didn't print quite enough, it affected other kids' books. Hmm, more careful next time.
Pasting the illustrations into place.

In the last few minutes, a few of the kids put some finishing touches on their copy of the book, personalizing it for their own. After only small hiccups, they were done!

What I learned

  • Kids have the best ideas!
  • This is really not the best project for 6-year-olds
  • Kids can't spell
  • We needed to work more on the writing part. Although the story was connected by the Time Pod, we could've used more collaboration to unify the whole story.
  • I'd have liked to try a variety of printing techniques, and possibly more assemblage and personalization after the main illustrations were complete.
  • Should've had a better method of binding
  • We needed more time
Definitely need to try it again!

No comments:

Post a Comment