Grade 5 Portfolios – Collecting Words

 I LOVE kids’ books!!! I just discovered a great new book, titled “Max’s Words” by Kate Banks. While this book doesn’t have a specific art theme, it inspired me to create a portfolio project for my 5th graders based on WORDS.
Kids LOVE to collect things. I learned this from personal experience, with a daughter who collected Beanie Babies like there was no tomorrow, and a son who made “collections” of anything he had more than one of! So kids will really relate to this story of Max, whose brother Benjamin collects stamps and brother Karl collects coins. Max wants to have his own collection of something, but he doesn’t know what. Finally Max decides that he will collect “words”, and the adventure begins!


Words are fascinating things. When combined, they can create a thought, and even a story. Another great thing about words is that they can be made even more interesting by being written in different lettering styles! In this portfolio project, we’ll use stick letters as a foundation for creating outline letters on the front of our portfolios. Then we’ll fill them in with colorful patterns and designs and “collect” some art words to place randomly in the background.

1. Begin by taking a few minutes as a class to brainstorm all the art-related words you can think of. (Write them on the board as students call them out.) You will use these later!
2. Using basic stick letters, write the word “ART” across the front of your portfolio. You can use either upper case letters, lower case letters, or a combination of both…. just make your letters LARGE and leave plenty of space between them.

3. Now, draw an outline around each letter. If you draw your outlines with lots of space around the stick letters, you will have more room to fill them with colorful patterns and designs.
4. Next, erase your stick letters (I hope you remembered to press lightly with your pencil!) and go over your outlines with a black chisel tip marker.

5. Then, use colorful markers to fill your outline letters with patterns and designs.
6.
Finally, use a black “F” Sharpie to randomly write all the art-related words you “collected” in the background around your letters.

As an extension of this lesson, my 5th grade students started their own “Font Collection Journals”. They looked for words in magazines and on product packaging to cut out and glue into a special notebook. This exercise not only trained them to be on the look-out for interesting lettering styles, but also gave them ideas of their own to use on book covers, science fair displays, and other projects.

In a future lesson, we’ll learn to use this same stick letter concept to create a wide variety of fun lettering styles!

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3 Responses to Grade 5 Portfolios – Collecting Words

  1. Anonymous September 23, 2010 at 8:45 am #

    I love how you combine children's books and art, I plan to use several of your lessons with my Grade 3 and 4 students. Thank you for the wonderful ideas.

  2. Loreen Leedy September 28, 2010 at 2:42 am #

    I just discovered your blog, so many great ideas here. For resources about how kids can create books, please check out this post on I.N.K. Putting That Creative Spark into Book Form

    Best regards,
    Loreen Leedy

  3. TeachKidsArt November 6, 2010 at 4:28 pm #

    Loreen,
    Your book looks great! I plan to add it to my next book order. I'll be teaching a book making workshop for elementary school teachers in January through our local reading association, so I'll be sure to bring it with me and pass it around! Thanks for letting me know about it!
    ~ Cheryl

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