Altered Books

Altered Books

This lesson was something NEW for my classes, and here’s why-

  • This was the first project that I allowed them to work in groups for. They were in groups of two, three, or four, depending on class size, etc. I wanted them to work in groups because I did not want them spending A TON of time on this project, and also because I have two really quiet classes and I wanted them to get to know each other a bit better.
  • The name of my class is Drawing & Painting, which mainly focuses on two dimensional artworks. I wanted my kids to expand past that and consider how to use their knowledge of drawing and painting to create a three dimensional work of art.

My kids were very excited about this project, being that it was so different. I selected their groups for them, so that I could differentiate between skill levels. For example, I put a girl who definitely knows what she’s doing, able to draw well, could probably be in AP if she wanted to be, I put her with a girl whose drawing skills are not nearly as creative or developed, hoping that they would be able to work alongside each other and offer suggestions.

This was the final project in a Unit I created on Words in Art. We began the unit by discussing how words can enhance or strengthen the quality of an artwork. Students worked and created blackout poetry, along with illustrations that supported their poems. They did this individually for a few days to get them thinking and experimenting with different options.

When I introduced this altered books assignment, I began with A TON of visual examples. I scanned Pinterest and various websites in order to come up with as many great examples as I could find. (If you follow my Pinterest Boards, you will see my “Altered Books” Board, which has a ton of great ideas!

I focused on additive and subtractive techniques, which meant they were either sculpting or carving into their books. I also talked to them about the possibility of leaving the books open versus having them closed and creating a cover page.

After me talking for what seemed like a very long time, I read out the names of the groups and I had my groups get together. I let them select a book and then they began sketching out ideas. Their sketches had to show me:

  • Will anything stand out? Will you create three dimensional works of art from pages?
  • Will anything be carved into? If so, what will you be carving?
  • Will your book be open or closed as a final product?
  • How will you incorporate drawing and painting into your altered book?

(Sidenote) When students were finished with these, I found that it was a great time to introduce Critique. Until this point, my students hadn’t really spent a great deal of time practicing the correct way to critique. I gave them a handout that introduced the 4 Steps to Critique, and we also viewed Starry Night as an example of how to answer each step of critique.

Along with an individual rubric for each student, I also had them write up a 4 Step Critique on another group’s altered book project.

Overall, I really enjoyed this project. It was something different that allowed my students to let loose a bit and bounce their own ideas off of each other.

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