Sixth-graders write children’s stories for a special audience

Catherine CappielloCase study, Elementary / Primary, English / Language Arts, Middle School, Online, Publishing, Social Studies

Bringing stories to life using Book Creator at Harpeth Hall School in Nashville.

Harpeth Hall is an independent, college-preparatory school for girls located in Nashville, Tennessee. As part of the school's project-based learning focus, 6th-grade students completed an interdisciplinary public purpose/service project with support from their English, Art, Public Purpose, Library, and Technology teachers (Clark Harwell, Rebecca Harris, Karre Sloan, Susie Elder, Katie King and Alice Bryant).

The main objective was to write and illustrate children’s books for a Nashville Head Start preschool program.

Teaching storytelling

The driving question was “How do 6th-grade students craft a children’s book that will teach Head Start students about interesting topics and important lessons?”  There was a lot of work to do!

To develop stories, teachers guided their students through the following steps:

  1. Harpeth Hall students interviewed Head Start preschoolers (ages 4-6) to discover what types of books they liked, what topics interested them, etc. The 6th-grade students aimed to learn more about the lives of the children to write stories that would appeal to a diverse audience.
  2. Guided by their teachers, Harpeth Hall students then read and analyzed multiple children’s books to explore the structure, tone, plot elements, use of figurative language, and correct punctuation of dialogue and comma usage.
  3. Students learned from their art teacher, Susie Elder, about the basics of how to illustrate, use color, tone, and more. 

Now it was time to start drafting! ✍️

Students used Microsoft Word to draft their pieces. During this process, they were placed in “editing groups” where they received feedback on their rough drafts from peers and teachers.

When it was time to write their final drafts, students completed their work during Language Arts class. They were evaluated on the correct usage of punctuation and mechanics, figurative language, and how well they have incorporated the literary elements necessary to create an effective children’s story.

Getting creative

Once their final drafts were complete, Karre Sloan, their Academic Technology Specialist, taught all of the details of Book Creator to the 6th-grade students.

To make things easy, students were able to copy and paste their text from Microsoft Word into Book Creator and change the font and format, etc.  It must be nice having a Book Creator guru like Ms. Sloan at your school site! 🌈

Customizing a font in Book Creator

Before adding illustrations, the students took a field trip to a local museum to see the works of Eric Carle, a famous author and illustrator of children's books. Inspired by the artwork, students then illustrated their own stories in Book Creator. They started with a blank slate and exercised their pre-teen creativity.

Buddy the Elephants First Day Jitters

Finally, students recorded reading their stories with their own voices!

Reagan the Rat Looks for a Snack audio

  “Book Creator brought their stories to life! What started as a simple children’s story on paper became a meaningful, colorful gift presented to an authentic audience. The life lessons the girls wrote about in their stories accompanied memorable characters that were beautifully hand-drawn on their laptops in Book Creator.”

After the books were complete, Harpeth Hall printed and donated 63 original works by the 6th-grade students to the Head Start library. The new 6th-grade authors read their wonderful books to the Head Start students with great pride. .

Check out some of their example books in this library. 👇

If you've found this project inspiring and have some ideas for how you can use Book Creator in your classroom then I'd love to hear in the comments below!

Happy bookmaking,

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