Imaginary Library: Teaching Ideas

Student Art

Student art

Student art

Student art


Dream Books by 4th/5th Graders

Columbia Elementary 4th/5th Graders and The Imaginary Library

Chelsea St Claire, 4/5th grade teacher at Columbia Elementary, did an imaginary library project with her class. She has generously agreed to share the details of the instruction activities. Her class volunteer from Bellingham High, Ruth, assisted in the classroom.

Introduction: I introduced the project to the students by explaining about the exhibit and sharing examples from The Fish, the Piano and the Wind, the catalog/book on the exhibit.

Looking at Book Covers: The class went to the school library to look at book covers that caught our eye and discussed the different stylistic approaches that illustrators used. We looked at how characters were portrayed, if there was a setting shown, and how action may or may not be included on the cover. We also discussed how the art could inspire a story or the story could inspire the artwork.

Generating Ideas for Stories: Some students started with something they just wanted to draw, others knew their story before they began the artwork. They were assigned the following:

  • Design a book cover for a story you haven’t yet written
    • Use your imagination
    • Think of an interesting idea for a story
    • Write a few sentences explaining the story idea
  • Decide on the style for your piece of artwork
    • What materials will you need to gather to create the art?
    • Will you include character, setting, action, title on the cover?
  • Create a quality piece of artwork that shares your idea with the world
  • Present your finished product

Art Studio: Students had several “art studio” days to use any materials they wanted from cut paper, water color, oil pastel, color pencil, and marker to create their artwork.  Some students need lots of encouragement because the project was so open ended and they struggled to make decisions.  Knowing when to stop and time management were also issues. Students really enjoyed being able to draw and create something that was totally based on their own interest and imagination. 

The Text: When the pictures were complete, the students dictated to Ruth, and she typed the texts into the computer. Some students plan on writing the complete story too! 

Sharing: The art and accompanying texts are on display as part of The Imaginary Library: Children's Books That Do Not (Yet) Exist exhibit!