State Regions Mini Book

My fourth grade students start the year studying geography and create a state regions mini book in our history class. We review landform definitions first; then we practice map skills. As a culminating activity, students identify the main regions in the United States and design the mini book. The mini book includes a small U.S. map and brief facts about the region. As a group, we try to look for generalizations about United States’ climate, geography, resources, and industry. These facts form a strong foundation to help us later in the school year when we study Native Americans and talk about how cultures developed and adapted to their environment in order to live.

state region foldable mini book

Before students make the mini book, they research general information about a region in the United States. I follow our school history book when identifying the regions and the states that are included in each region. Our textbook names 5 U.S. regions– southeast, northeast, southwest, midwest, west, but I have certainly seen different options for grouping states. The students complete these U.S Regions Project Notes and then are ready to build their booklet.

How do you Make a Mini Book?

  • Gather your materials
    • 4×6 notecards
    • scissors
    • rubberband (medium sized)
  • Fold 2+ notecards in half the “hamburger” way making sure the corners line up neatly. That means the 6″ side would be folded. Press down firmly along the fold.

spelling mini books folded

  • Once each card is folded, stack the cards, so they are nesting one inside another and line them up evenly. The region mini books use 2 cards, but I think 3-4 cards is is a nice amount if you are making this booklet for a different project.
  • Following the center fold, cut a 1/2″ notch from the top and bottom edge of the stack of cards.

mini books cut knotch

  • Wrap a rubberband around the stack of cards. Have the rubberband sit down into the cut sections of paper to act as the mini book binding. If the rubberband is too tight and pulling on the paper, cut your notches a little deeper.

mini books rubberband

  • Decorate the cover and add notes, drawings, information… to each page of the booklet. For the states regions booklets, students cut out a small U.S. map and color the states that are in the region they researched. That map is pasted in the center pages. On the cover, the student names the region and adds his/her name. The blank pages before and after the center U.S. map page are for the general region information. The students can add the information and illustrations in any order they would like.

These mini books are great for many projects. CLICK HERE to see other ideas for using this craftivity with students. To view and purchase some of my map skills and geography resources for upper elementary students, CLICK HERE.

Foldable Mini Books

 

As most all teachers do over the summer, I have been tinkering with student materials (when I should be catching up with missed doctors’ appointments and bathroom cleaning and dog hair vacuuming– or even enjoying a day at the pool). I want a student-made dictionary style resource for commonly misspelled words for my students next year. Ideally, the spelling notes will be in some kind of individual booklet that each student could add to all year. I may have found a solution– a sturdy little mini foldable booklet.

foldable mini book

I called in my temp help to see if the mini books would work, and team RoomMom has been printing, cutting, folding, and testing all day.

mini books materials

Materials

  • 8 1/2″ x 11″ white cardstock OR 4×6 notecards
  • scissors
  • rubberband (medium sized)
  • paper cutter with ruler guidelines

Directions

  • If you are using an 8 1/2″ x 11″ piece of cardstock, cut it in half horizontally and vertically, so you have 4 pieces of cardstock that are 4 1/4″ x 5 1/2″. Fold each piece of cardstock in half the “hamburger” way making sure the corners line up neatly. That means the 5 1/2″ side would be folded. Press down firmly along the fold.

mini books divide paper

  • If you are using notecards, fold 2+ notecards in half the “hamburger” way making sure the corners line up neatly. That means the 6″ side would be folded. Press down firmly along the fold.

spelling mini books folded

  • Once each card is folded, stack the cards on top of each other lining them up evenly. I think 3-4 cards is about the right amount for each booklet. You can use a combination of notecards and cardstock. ** Make sure your sizes match if you are mixing cardstock and notecards.
  • Following the center fold, cut a 1/2″ notch from the top and bottom edge of the stack of cards.

mini books cut knotch

  • Wrap a rubberband around the stack of cards. Have the rubberband sit down into the cut sections of paper to act as the mini book binding. If the rubberband is too tight and pulling on the paper, cut your notches a little deeper.

mini books rubberband

  • Decorate the cover and add notes, drawings, information, doodles… to each page of the booklet.

mini books sampleUses

  • I set up a template in Word and inserted the spelling information I needed. I printed front and back, cut down the paper, and folded the pieces into the booklet. There is space for students to add additional notes, but they will each have a starter booklet.

spelling mini books notes

  • Mr. Star Wars wrote a personal narrative about our trip to North Carolina last summer. Using the Word document template, we inserted pictures and printed the pages (it takes a little spatial thinking to get your pictures on the pages in the order you want when you assemble the booklet). He handwrote the story using the printed pictures as enhancement. This would be a great back to school activity. Students could use a blank booklet and write and illustrate a story about something they did over the summer. You could also use the booklet as a way to assess summer reading by having students create a book review in a mini book.foldable mini book
  • Miss Priss used her booklet to report facts about elephants. This was an end of year project for her. She took her researched information, grouped it by topic, and wrote bulleted facts on each page.

mini book elephantThe spelling mini book template with pre-printed notes for 31 tricky words like there, their, and they’re is now available in my Commonly Misspelled Words product at my teacher store. CLICK HERE to purchase.

Foldable Fortune Teller Study Tools

If you tell an elementary student to study for a test, he stares at a page of notes for a few minutes and then declares that he is finished. In my 4th grade classroom, if I want my students to do more than passively glance over a review sheet and regurgitate a few definitions without really seeing a bigger picture, I have to strategically provide study options for them. Foldable study tools are always a good idea because students love to work on anything that is a distant relative of a paper airplane, and many foldables provide a study option that is interactive.

foldable fortune teller study tool for students

This year, I have been using fortune tellers as one way to prepare for tests and quizzes. The original fortune tellers I made as a child had numbers on the different flaps and after flipping the sides back and forth a few times, you would lift a flap to reveal a fortune. I adapted that idea into a study tool.

I give students pieces of copy paper cut into 8 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ squares, and we fold. The students write different related concepts on the flaps, so they will be reminded to review the information in a variety of ways. The fortune tellers have the added benefit of a student being able to quiz himself or use it with a friend, parent, babysitter, or other study partner.

How to Make a Fortune Teller

  • Fold the paper in half diagonally matching one corner of the paper to the opposite corner. Press the fold to make a sharp crease. Open the paper and repeat the other direction. Place the unfolded paper on a flat surface, and you will have a page that looks a little like a kite with two creases.

fortune teller fold 1

  • Fold each corner carefully into the center, which will result in a smaller sized square.

fortune teller fold 2

  • Turn the paper over, so the flaps are facing down. Then, fold each corner into the center of the paper again resulting in an even smaller square.

fortune teller fold 3

  • Fold the paper in half making a rectangle.

fortune teller fold 4

  • At this point, gently place your fingers under the loose flaps and wiggle the fortune teller open, so you have diamond shaped flaps and a foldable that kind of resembles an umbrella shape.

fortune teller fold 5

How to Make a Spelling Fortune Teller

  • On the top of the fortune teller, you have space for 8 spelling words. Use words that relate to one central spelling rule or pattern.
  • On the related triangle in the center of the fortune teller, write a variation of the original spelling word. For example, add a suffix to the original spelling word (play on the top and plays on the interior).

fortune teller spelling

  • On the underside of the interior flap, write an explanation of the rule you used when adding a suffix to the original spelling word. In my example, students were practicing the drop the Y rule. The underside of the flap listed what was happening with the letter Y when a suffix was added. In the case of the word play, it ends with the vowel, A, followed by the letter Y. When a word ends with a vowel then the letter Y, the Y stays when adding a suffix. When a word ends with a consonant followed by a Y, the Y goes away and is replaced with an I (cry to cries) When you add ING to a word that ends with Y, the Y remains no matter how a word is spelled at the end (say to saying or dry to drying).

fortune teller spelling rules

  • Students say aloud all of the different pieces of information on the fortune teller. They may look at the flaps to confirm if they are remembering the words and information correctly.

How to Make a Vocabulary Fortune Teller

  • On the top of the fortune teller, you have space for 8 vocabulary words. Write words that relate to 1 or 2 roots or prefixes or another central topic you might be reviewing (electricity, geography terms…).
  • On the related triangle in the center of the fortune teller, write the definition of the vocabulary word, the definition of the root or prefix, or the explanation of the key ideas from your unit of study. For example, if you are reviewing the root, numer, write the definition number on the interior triangle.

fortune teller vocab definition

  • On the underside of the interior flap, write a situation or example where the word might be used. With a word like numerical, an example could be numerical order in a book series.
  • On my flaps that listed the root by itself, I wrote additional words that use the root. On the flap for mot, which means to move or to do, I have words like motor, motion, and motel on the underside space.

fortune teller vocab samples

The goal of the study tool is to have students think about information in more than one way. Rather than memorizing a word and its definition, we want children thinking of ways to apply the word. Unless students have knowledge of topics from several different angles, they may not fully grasp a concept. These fortune tellers are a great way for students to review material, but it should not be the only way they study. What are additional study tool ideas? I would love to hear about your favorite review method.

Class Notes

class handbook

Parents receive and/or complete a ton of paperwork from their child’s school the first week or two of school. Most of the materials are distributed in some sort of class orientation with the teacher. A lot of information about math fact tests, spelling test days, and reading requirements is thrown at you in a short amount of time.

As a parent, I jam the papers in a folder near the school directory and do not really look at it again. As a teacher, I am silently fuming when parents ask me repeatedly about my extra help days or my monthly reading due date. Isn’t anyone referring to the FAQ sheet I gave at the beginning of the year, which CLEARLY outlined my policies and procedures? No, they are not because it is sitting in that dusty folder next to the school directory.

This year, I am taking care of the problem. I created a flip chart with all of the information I want parents to have for the school year. I attached magnets to the back, so parents can stick this handbook to the refrigerator. For parents who will not be receiving TheRoomMom’s amazing 4th grade handbook, create your own “Class Cliffs Notes” that you can post in a central location at your house.

Below is my suggested list of helpful class information to have on hand. What other school information do you need throughout the year but forget after the first week of school?

  • Teacher Contact Information– Note the best way to contact the teacher and the amount of time it will take for the teacher to reply. Have the e-mail address and cell phone number (or school phone number) in a place that is easy for you to find. In most cases, it is easiest to contact a teacher by e-mail rather than by phone since we can’t answer the phone during the school day. If you would like to speak with the teacher, send an e-mail listing several times that you are available to have a phone conversation (or conference) to avoid playing phone tag. Let the teacher call you.

class handbook extra help

  • Extra Help Times– Be aware of any weekly extra help the teacher offers. I have a weekly drop-in time every Tuesday after school for 45 minutes. Parents may also e-mail me or send a written note if a student needs one-on-one help. If your child’s teacher provides some form of extra help, know how/when it works.
  • Late Work Policies– If students are sick, make note of how to get make up work and how long a student has to complete make up work. If a student does not do homework or other assignments, ask about any deductions to the final grade or other consequences for incomplete work.
  • Reading Requirement– Most classrooms have a nightly reading requirement that may not show up in the assignment book. Find out if your child is expected to complete work independently each evening that is above and beyond assigned daily work.

class handbook math facts tips

  • Study Tips and General Test Schedule– Many teachers have a weekly test schedule for areas like math fact tests and weekly spelling lessons. For example, my teammate gives math fact tests every Wednesday and Friday. I alternate spelling and vocabulary tests every Thursday. If there is a reliable test schedule, add it to your family calendar. If the teacher gives any study advice, write it down, so your child can study efficiently for these weekly tests. My teammate and I shared math facts study tips and vocabulary study tips in our handbook.

class handbook vocabulary tips

  • Daily Schedule– Know which days students have PE, art, or other classes that may require special clothing. My children need to know PE days, so they will wear sneakers. I like to know which day is art day, so my kids won’t wear the white uniform shirt. If students can have visitors at lunch, note lunch times. If you can actually have the entire weekly schedule for your child posted on the refrigerator, that is helpful for the whole family.

class handbook schedule

I found the flip book idea on Pinterest (of course). First Grade Fairy Tales has the step-by-step directions and template for making the flip book. My new plan is to use the template to make a babysitter/dogsitter flip chart to compile all of the notes that I need to give to our sitters. I want to include emergency contact information, pediatrician names and numbers, basic dog care, and other information I always need to write down for the babysitter. If I finish, I will post some photos.

Fun Foldables

Crazy things happen to my students when I tell them that we are going to make booklets in class.  They do not even recognize that there will be writing required to fill the booklet. Their attention is focused completely on the class set of scissors, stack of paper, and big bin of assorted colored pencils. I have a handful of favorite foldable booklets that I am sharing below. I also included a new one I am trying this year with my poetry unit called a tunnel booklet.

Teacher Note: To fold a piece of paper the hamburger way is to fold any rectangular piece of paper in half the short, fat way. An 8 1/2″ x 11″ piece of paper would become 5 1/2″ x 8 1/2″. To fold a piece of paper the hot dog way is to fold any rectangular piece of paper in half the long, skinny way. An 8 1/2″ x 11″ piece of paper would become 4 1/4″ x 11″. The top of the tent is the folded edge of the paper. If you were to stand your folded piece of paper up on the table like a tent, the part at the top is the edge you usually need to cut. Don’t ask me who came up with this terminology, but it saves me a lot of messed up pieces of paper.

Parent Note: Any of these booklets can be adapted for scout projects, book reports, science reports, or home schooling.

Tiny Books

I use these for an activity with Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl. When we read the chapter about Danny’s granddad’s great pheasant poaching methods, the students choose one of the crazy poaching methods from the story. The students break the poaching method into steps and write the steps with illustrations into the Tiny Books to create a “How To” booklet. This is a great way to introduce technical writing and procedures (anyone prepping for science fair?).

Materials:

  • basic white copy paper, 8 1/2″ x 11″, (one per student)
  • scissors
tiny book step 1

Step 1: Fold one piece of paper in half the hamburger way. Repeat two more times. Unfold the paper and make sure you have 8 rectangles on the paper.

tiny book step 2

Step 2: Fold the paper the hamburger way again, one time. Your paper will be 5 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ with 4 rectangles showing.
Step 3: From the folded edge of the paper, cut down the middle along the fold line to the center of the paper.

tiny book step 3

Step 4: Open the paper flat. Fold it one time the hot dog way.

Step 5: Hold each side with one hand and push towards the center until your fingers meet. The center of the paper will push out creating 4 flaps.

Step 5: Hold each side with one hand and push towards the center until your fingers meet. The center of the paper will push out creating 4 flaps.

Step 6: Press down, so pages are flat. The finished booklet is 6 pages.

Step 6: Press down, so pages line up into the booklet shape. The finished booklet is 6 pages.

Burrito Books

We make these booklets for a lot of novel studies in my class. I recently used them while reading The Bread Winner by Arvella Whitmore. I created a Bread Winner Burrito Book Template and made a gazillion copies (front and back) that gave the students space to write a gist statement (one page summary of a chapter), character notes, and historical facts for each chapter in the book. I also use these booklets for point of view journals. This activity works well for The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. At the beginning of the book, students select one main character. After reading each chapter, the students re-tell the chapter in the first person from the point of view of their chosen character. I mentioned this writing activity before in my Novel Ideas post.

Materials:

  • basic white copy paper, 8 1/2″ x 11″, 6 sheets per student? (1 piece of paper = 4 booklet pages)
  • scissors
  • construction paper, any color, 1 per student (optional– can be used to make a cover for the booklet)
  • glue stick if adding construction paper book covers
Step 1: Divide your paper into two even piles, line up the corners, and fold both piles in half the hamburger way.

Step 1: Divide your paper into two even piles, line up the corners, and fold both piles in half the hamburger way.

Step 2: Pick up one folded pile of papers. On one end, make a 1-inch cut along the end (this is the top of the tent). Repeat on the other side.

Step 2: Pick up one folded pile of papers. On one end, make a 1-inch cut along the end (this is the top of the tent). Repeat on the other side. Set aside.

Step 3: Pick up the second pile of papers. Starting about 1-inch from the edge of the paper, cut a long skinny rectangle out of the center of the page. Stop 1-inch before the other end of the paper. This is the same as cutting a Valentine heart out of the center of a piece of paper.

Step 3: Pick up the second pile of papers. Starting about 1-inch from the folded edge of the paper (top of the tent), cut a long skinny rectangle out of the center of the page. Stop 1-inch before the other end of the paper. This is the same as cutting a Valentine heart out of the center of a piece of paper.

Step 4: Keeping the two piles of paper separate, open them flat. Pick up the pile with the flaps at the end and roll it gently like a hot dog. Insert the rolled papers into the center hole of the other stack of papers.

Step 4: Keeping the two piles of paper separate, open them flat. Pick up the pile with the cut flaps at the end and roll it gently like a hot dog. Insert the rolled papers into the center hole of the other stack of papers.

Step 5: Shaking a little, unroll the hot dog papers until they fit into the notch at the bottom and top of the pages.

Step 5: Shaking a little, unroll the hot dog papers until they fit into the notch at the bottom and top of the pages.

Step 5: (continued) If the pages won't lie flat, you may need to adjust the cut flaps and make them a little longer.

Step 5 (continued): If the pages won’t lie flat, you may need to adjust the cut flaps and make them a little longer.

Step 6: Press pages in half the hamburger way to form the booklet. You can fold construction paper in half the hamburger way and glue the first and last page of the burrito book into the construction paper to make a cover (recommended).

Step 6: Press pages in half the hamburger way to form the booklet. You can fold construction paper in half the hamburger way and glue the first and last page of the burrito book to the construction paper to make a cover (recommended).

Pop Up Books

Kids get really creative with the cutting on these pages. Once you teach the basic pop up, they quickly discover how to add more details. Currently, I use these with tall tales. We read a few picture books (McBroom and the Big Wind by Sid Fleischman, A Fine, Fine School by Sharon Creech, and Those Darn Squirrels by Adam Rubin) and discuss the basics of a tall tale. Students then write their own tall tale, break the story into about 6 sections (which will become the text for each page), and book production begins.

Materials:

  • basic white copy paper, 8 1/2″ x 11″ (~6 pieces per student)
  • class set of scissors
  • class set of glue sticks
  • construction paper (1 piece per student)
  • colored pencils or markers
Step 1: Fold one piece of paper in half the hamburger way. Near the center of the folded edge of the paper, cut two lines each the same length (about 1" long). The cuts should be about 1 1/2" apart. You may want students to mark cut lines with rulers when you first get started.

Step 1: Fold one piece of paper in half the hamburger way. Near the center of the folded edge of the paper (top of the tent), cut two lines each the same length (about 1″ long). The cuts should be about 1 1/2″ apart. You may want students to mark cut lines with rulers when you first get started.

Step 2: Open paper and poke finger into the cut section in the center of the paper and gently pull forward to make a stair step.

Step 2: Open paper and poke finger into the cut section in the center of the paper and gently pull forward to make a stair step.

Step 3: Fold the paper down again like a hamburger and crease your stair step. Open the page and stand upright to check that the fold is even.

Step 3: Fold the paper down again like a hamburger and crease your stair step. Open the page and stand upright to check that the fold is even.

Step 4: Begin creating illustrations on the page. You will have one larger element that is cut out of paper and glued to the front of the stair step. Create a background on the top/back of the page. Write the story text on the bottom/front of the page.

Step 4: Begin creating illustrations on the page. You will have one larger element that is cut out of paper and glued to the front of the stair step. Create a background on the top/back of the page. Write the story text on the bottom/front of the page.

Step 5: When one page is completed, use a new piece of paper and create a new pop-up page. Do you second page of illustrations and text. When pages are ready, you will attach the back of the bottom of the first page to the back of the top of the second page. Use a glue stick and run glue around the outside edges only. If you glue to close to the center, it might stick down the pop ups.

Step 5: When one page is completed, use a new piece of paper and create a new pop-up page. Do the second page of illustrations and text. When pages are ready, you will attach the back of the bottom of the first page to the back of the top of the second page. Use a glue stick and run glue around the outside edges only. If you glue too close to the center, it might stick the pop ups to each other.

Step 6: Continue until all pages are complete and attached. The back/top of the first page and the back/bottom of the last page can be glued inside construction paper for a cover.

Step 6: Continue until all pages are complete and attached. The back/top of the first page and the back/bottom of the last page should be glued inside construction paper for the cover. Illustrate the cover too.

double pop up book

Extension: Once students master the single pop up, encourage them to try double pop ups or other size pop up boxes.

Tunnel Books

I found this cool pin on Pinterest (thank you Cheryl at Teach Kids Art) and decided to add this activity to my poetry unit. The students were going to be writing Haikus anyway, so it seemed like a good project. Plus, my poetry unit is a few years old, and I needed something new to freshen up the content. I think I could also use these as character tunnels. A picture of the main character would go on the back panel, and the student could document changes in the character with each frame.  Hmmm, I can see this showing up in my Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell unit in the spring– stay tuned.

Materials:

  • 4″ x 6″ postcard, horizontal picture, one per student
  • 4 per student 4″ x 6″ white notecards
  • 4 per student 4″ x 6″ white notecards each pre-cut into 2- 3″ x 4″ pieces*
  • 1 per student 3″ x 5″ notecard, cut to 2 ½”x 4 ½” (color other than white if pos­si­ble, use as a tem­plate for trac­ing the opening)*
  • scis­sors
  • glue stick
  • pen­cil and eraser
  • black fine tip pen (Sharpie works well)
  • col­ored pencils

* I recommend doing this step ahead of time for your students with the paper cutter in the teacher workroom.

Prep: Make the hinged sides of your book by fold­ing each of your 3”x4” index cards accor­dion style. Fold in half the hot dog way (“moun­tain fold”), then fold each loose edge up (“val­ley fold”) to line up with the fold in the mid­dle.

Prep: Make the hinged sides for your book by fold­ing each of your 3”x 4” index cards accor­dion style. Fold in half the hot dog way (moun­tain fold), then fold each loose edge up (val­ley fold) to line up with the fold in the mid­dle. I used lined notecards to illustrate direction of the folds on the hinges better. Trace the 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ rectangle on the center of the 4 remaining notecards.

Step 1: Write one line of your haiku across the top of each of 3 cards, and your title (if you want one) across the other. Trace with Sharpie.

Step 1: Write one line of your haiku across the top of each of 3 cards, and your title (if you want one) across the other. Trace with Sharpie. Illus­trate each page of your book by choos­ing ele­ments from the post card and repeat­ing them on the edges of each page. Keep most of your design along the top, bot­tom, and sides but allow some ele­ments to over­lap into the cen­ter sec­tion. Color with col­ored pen­cils.

Step 2: Cut away the cen­ter sec­tion of each page. By pinch­ing the mid­dle of each page, with­out creas­ing to the edges, you can snip into the cen­ter to cre­ate an open­ing for your scis­sors.

Step 2: Cut away the cen­ter sec­tion of each page. Pinch­ the mid­dle of each page, with­out creas­ing to the edges, so you can snip into the cen­ter to cre­ate an open­ing for your scis­sors.

Step 4: Cut­ around any ele­ments that extend into the mid­dle.

Step 3: Cut­ around any ele­ments that extend into the mid­dle.

Step 1: Put a lit­tle glue along the inside edge of two of your hinges and place them on the left and right sides of the back of your post card. Repeat this step for each 4" x 6" card.

Step 4: Put a lit­tle glue along the inside edge of two of your hinges and place them on the left and right sides of the back of your post card. Repeat this step for each 4″ x 6″ card.

Step 5: Assem­ble your tun­nel book, work­ing from the back (line 3 of your haiku) to the front, glu­ing the back of each hinged page to the hinges behind it.

Step 5: Assem­ble your tun­nel book, work­ing from the back (line 3 of your haiku) to the front, glu­ing the back of each hinged page to the hinges behind it.

Haiku Tunnel Poem Finished (top view)

Haiku Tunnel Poem Finished (top view)

Haiku Tunnel Poem Finished (front view)

Haiku Tunnel Poem Finished (front view)