Monday, February 24, 2014

Reading Comprehension - Building a Diorama

I’m teaching a 4th-6th grade literature class at co-op this year.  I’ve been working with the kids on various genres, terminology and ways to present a report, all in the hopes of helping their reading comprehension. 

This month I’ve assigned a diorama to wrap up the book Call of the Wild, by Jack London.  I was floored to find that only two kids out of nine knew what a diorama was.  I was equally stunned to spend the next 45 minutes trying to get those seven kids to grasp the idea of how to make a diorama.  

My point in telling you that?  Well, truthfully it’s just to point out that there are lots of ways for kids to learn and improve their reading comprehension, not all involve writing a boring report.  However, we do our kids a great injustice when we don’t allow them to be creative in their learning…even if it does make a mess.

How does one create a diorama? 

It begins with supplying your student with craft/art supplies.    Olivia wanted her diorama to be a night scene,so we had already spray painted her shoebox black for this photo.

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Then it involves explaining the purpose of the diorama.  In this case Olivia is to depict a scene from the book and then be able to explain how her scene ties into the story.

Then it involves stepping away and letting the kid DO the project, instead of watching you do the project for them.   You can give them creative ideas or suggestions, but at the end of the project they should be messy, not you.

Below Olivia is drawing the background of her diorama on dark paper using chalk pastels.  This is then trimmed to size and glued into place inside the shoe box.

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Olivia wanted a big moon in her night time diorama.   She cut a small styrofoam ball in half and then painted it a bright yellow.

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She used heavy black cardstock to cut out shapes of bare trees, and she used her chalk pastels to highlight the trees, like moonlight.  These were then hot glued into place, along with the moon and some sparkly blue paper to look like the night sky.

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So far, so good, right?  Well other than the fact that the glue gun was somehow killed during this process, sigh.

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Upon the death of the hot glue gun, we resorted to using good old white school glue to hold down the fake grass and boulders.

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Olivia carefully placed Buck in the setting and the project was complete.

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This is the look of a child who is thrilled with what she’s created!

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What fun, hands on projects do you use in your homeschooling?

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