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Last week I blogged about our Plays unit and how much learning I felt had been achieved through this small group unit of work. This week we finished another mammoth task, our Picture Book Study. Now Writing, editing and producing a picture book as a project task in Year 6 is not a particularly new idea. I remember my own daughter completing this and presenting the one copy of the book she made to her kindergarten buddy, many years ago. The difference this time was in my students integration of technology, including on-line publishing.

To complete this unit, they have completed the following:

  • Researched, read, analysed and discussed what makes a good picture book.
  • Listened to Sarah Foster from Walker books explain what she looks for when commissioning a picture book from authors and illustrators.
  • Written a draft story, which contained a moral.
  • Placed the draft into a storyboard, ensuring double page spreads were used effectively.
  • Used Microsoft word to type the words, sometimes using text boxes, different sized fonts, wobbly or enlarged words for effect.
  • Edited by self, edited with a peer and then again with me for good measure
  • Hand drawn or used Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator to create illustrations.
  • Created a biography page, a title page and end papers.
  • Scanned every page using our photocopier.
  • Uploaded each page into Blurb, ensuring they fitted correctly.
  • Before finally publishing, ordering and receiving their books.
  • Read their books to all grades throughout the school

Although some students chose to go to Officeworks and have their books bound the majority purchased them through Blurb and the results were fabulous. They now have copies of what looks and feels like a real book, either in hardback or paperback.. What a fabulous and lasting memory of their time in year six. Many of them were so good, I would have happily purchased them too.

Next year I plan to teach Adobe skills earlier in the year so that more of them will feel confident to use Photoshop or Illustrator for their illustrations. This Photopeach will show some of the books they created.
Yr 6 Picture Book study on PhotoPeach

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9 comments

  1. Rosalind

    Wow! That is amazing and I can imagine how proud they are with the final products. I may use your idea and work with my Year 6 next year. Thanks for sharing this outstanding idea!

  2. I am incredibly impressed by the work of your students in title, illustration and presentation. There is something special about a child being able to hold a book they themselves have made.

    Titles such as “I Really Really Don’t Like Reading”, “The Wonderful Adventures of Schnitzel and Hamish”, “Christos, Jack and the Leprechaun Friend”, “Mumpalump”, and others are eye-catching. Well done to your class for preparing such impressive work.

    @RossMannell
    Teacher (retired), N.S.W., Australia

  3. That’s a pleasure, actually the unit was written by my wonderful co-teacher Mr A. So much credit must also go to him. His addition of a moral and the solid research of picture books really helped them to write excellent stories, an obviously necessary part. Go ahead and try this with your class next year, they will love the lasting memento.

  4. I’m such a fan of teaching upper elementary students using picture books.

    When I began my career, I figured that Year 5 students should hear novels. When they read novels, they start wanting to write novels – which is okay. But how much better is their writing when they use picture books as mentor texts? They can study story mountains and sentence structure and author’s craft in one or two days (instead of weeks).

    Did you mix fiction and nonfiction books into the unit?

  5. Thank you for your kind words Janet, for this unit we stuck with fiction books although we did look at wordless ones as well as narrative. We specifically considered all the elements that make picture books so engaging. These included the story, placement of text, text size, illustrations and the vunderpunkt as described by Sarah Foster from Walker books, which is the moment in a book when you just have to turn the page.

  6. Anthony W

    With a student in your class I attest to other readers the passion and engagement that my daughter pursued this task with. She totally owned it … and even when she published a copy with an error there was no dummy spits … just a determined response to fix the error and get it right, because that was the only way a good book could be … words, illustrations, grammar. I was very proud of her work. Now she wants to sell some to raise some funds to support her mother and aunties who are doing the OxFam walk next April … how authentic is that?

  7. Anthony W

    I want to add to my earlier comment. I now get why these girls did such an incredible job. I said I thought my daughter worked hard on this … and she did, but I only saw what she did at home.

    Today, school finished for the year and all the work books came home and like many parents I dived in to see what i could see. Of course knowing Mrs Millers approach there were no marks, lots of comments and challenges to reach a higher standard. What stood out for me in relation to the picture book study was the large body fo work the girls undertook to truly understand what goes into a picture book, what works and why. I counted eight detailed analyses of well known books … ones you have read dozens of times to your kids … and I was impressed belong my wildest expectations in the breadth and depth of the analysis of these books. The comments showed a level of understanding of the features and elements of picture books and the methods of applying them that to me simply read way beyond their chronological age.

    From this I could then much more clearly see how this understanding had been applied in her own creating her own book – applying the elements she liked and felt worked, with intent.

  8. Thank you Anthony, you are correct. Mr A and I knew that for this unit to be a success it was vital for the girls to develop a real understanding of the complex elements that make a picture book a best seller.

  9. Pingback: Year 6 Picture Book Study: Reflection Week 3 | Paige Dixon