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Learning how to draw means learning to see. A good art lesson teaches us not only to create but to look at, think about and understand our world through art.

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Monday, February 22, 2016

This is not a box

Step 1
Break into groups of 3

Act out the story Idiot Box  in your group, each one reading your part aloud.
Each person in the group must choose a different part. You may be SpongeBob, Squidward or Patrick

Step 2: Fill in the blanks to tell the story from your character's point of view.

Compare your story with the other stories in your group. How are they all different?

Now it is your turn to transform a box. You will need to work as a group to figure out what you want to transform your box into. You will need to cooperate to get the job done.

Pretend you have $100 to spend to transform your box. In addition any member of your group can bring in items from home.
Plan your design. What will you transform your box into? Draw a sketch and describe your idea.
Print out the purchase order below, list your materials and plan your budget. Can anyone in your group bring in free items from home?
Many essential items are 'per day'. If you borrow all the items at once you may waste money. Draw up a schedule and figure out what day you will need to rent what item.
Leave extra money in your budget for unanticipated emergencies and unexpected repair costs.
Do you really need that? Look at your budget with a critical eye. How can you cut costs?
You may join with another group and combine budgets and boxes.
Points will be awarded for coming in under budget.

If you hit your budget limit you will need to supply items from home or your entire group will not be able to do the assignment.

Dividing up the work:
One person in your group should be the accountant. This should be somebody who likes math and is good at it. While you are all responsible for spending your money wisely and keeping within budget, the accountant will keep careful track of your costs and how much money the group has left to spend. The accountant will list the materials on the purchase order form and change the quantities as you use up more materials.

One person in your group will be the designer. While you all must work together to come up with a design idea that you can agree on, the designer will sketch the idea on paper. This should be somebody who likes to draw and thinks drawing is fun.

One person in the group should be the writer. While you will all be responsible for inventing the story behind your box together, the writer will be the one to write it down. They will also write a description of your idea for how to transform the box. The writer should be someone who is able to write neatly and is good at spelling.

Very useful information courtesy of

Working on the narrative

Here are some useful worksheets to help young writers to develop the narrative part of their 'This Is Not A Box' projects;

The only thing limiting the story you tell is your imagination but the worksheets above will help you to weave a tale that is both fun to write and engaging to your audience.

While teaching the storytelling component of this lesson, a conversation ensued about how children, when they do creative writing, are often told to find a way to wrap the story up neatly. In contrast, great children's literature often leaves the reader uncertain and longing. For example, Stuart Little doesn't find her in the end of the book. He may never find her. We had to wait years and years through many books to find out whether Snape is good or evil. Even television shows employ cliff hangers to keep the viewers coming back for more. Since easy, obvious, pat endings are the surest way to ruin a great story, I suggested that our stories end in cliff hangers. 

Final Presentation:

Once again you will need to work as a team. 

For this part of the project you will need to 

divide yourselves up into the following rolls:


The videographer works behind the camera 

and will be responsible for filming the project,

directing the students who are on screen

and zooming in on appropriate details. They 

will also be responsible for putting each day's 

filming into Drop Box so that the teacher can 

view it. All students will review and edit the 

presentation together using iMovie on the 

iPads but the videographer is expected to 

take a leading role. The videographer should

be someone who is comfortable using 


The Spokesperson

The spokesperson should be someone who 

speaks clearly and loudly, makes good eye 

contact and does not mumble. The 

spokesperson will be doing most of the 

narration of the video. Once the video is 

complete the spokesperson may need to 

record a voiceover using iMovie. Everyone 

will work together to develop the script

(the writer is expected to take a leading roll in 

this area) but the spokesperson is expected 

to make sure that the audio on the final 

iMovie is clear and easy to hear.

The Presenter

The presenter should be someone who is

comfortable on camera and able to follow 

directions. They should have good listening 

skills and be comfortable making eye 

contact. We all know someone who is 

dramatic, expressive, animated and  

 seems to 'talk with their hands'. These are 

ideal character traits for your presenter.

You may also take turns playing the different 

rolls since in many groups students will have 

overlapping strengths and skills.


After finishing up your box sculpture and 

completing your story you will create a short

video that tells the tale of your sculpture.

The only thing limiting the content of your

narrative is 1) Your imagination and 2) Your 

story must be 'school appropriate' (a story 

that can be shared, in a typical school 

setting, to an elementary school student).

Videos may be anywhere from 30 seconds to 

three minutes in length.

We ended up scrapping the above plan  

and choosing a different route when it 

came to video taping. Due to PARCC 

testing elsewhere in the district, the 

students were not permitted to use the 

school iPads and I ended up doing all the 

video taping on my phone. 

Through trial and error we discovered that 

my students had an easier time presenting 

when I interviewed them. They also had an  

easier time speaking when they divided the 

speaking parts ahead of time. 

One student described how they transformed 

the box. The second student described the 

characters in the story and the third student

told the story they had all created together.

That way, everyone had a turn to be on 

on camera and each student felt at ease.

Student art gallery:

The Robot


The Resistance 

The Castle of Doom

Kajeri Vs Kayax 

First Day of Kindergarten 

The Destroyers

The mysterious volcano

The New King

The Enchanted Chair

The Racing Car

The Lunar Rover

The Enchanted Elevator

The Haunted House

Jorline's Journey

The Adventures of Princess Charlotte