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Our First Pop-Ups

Our First Pop-Ups
Workshop: Pop-up Lab

St. John Fisher Elementary School
Pointe-Claire, QC
Kindergarten  (ages 5-6)

Young children may not have the manual dexterity needed to create pop-ups from scratch but when they are given the basic structure, they really enjoy adding to it and deciding what to draw. Through manipulating the paper, children can internalize the basics of paper engineering.

Keeping in mind their attention span, the workshop is comprised of several short interactive activities.


Popping Up in History Class
Workshop: Pop-Up Folio

École Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine
Montreal, QC
Grades 5 and 6 (ages 10 to 12)

As part of a unit on the Middle Ages, the grade five and six students did research on a topic of their choice (castles, knights, medieval music, witches, etc.), and wrote about it.

We discussed the elements of paper engineering and the secrets to successful pop-ups and then practiced by making several structures. We brainstormed which pop-up would be the best fit to illustrate their chosen subjects. They created their pop-ups, illustrated them, and we added a pocket for the folded text.

Popping Up in History

Pop-Up Riddles
Workshop: Pop-Up Folio

Beaconsfield Elementary School, Beaconsfield, QC
Grade 2  (ages 7-8) 

With their teacher, each student wrote their own riddle and illustrated the answer (a parrot, a soccer ball, a tuba, a bubble gum machine). I helped them transform their illustrations into pop-ups and glue them into the folio cover. 

Parrot Riddle

Halloween Pop-Ups
Workshop: Pop-Up Folio

Montreal Children’s Library

Richmond Branch

Ages 6 to 11


I prepared the orange cardboard suitcases in advance. I showed the kids how to create the pop-up structures. Then we brainstormed what Halloween-y things we could draw, cut out, and glue to the pop-ups.

They added illustrations and an origami ghost or other spooky creature. 

Halloween Pop-Up

Animals and Emotions
Workshop: Pop-Up Book

École Au-Pied-de-la-Montagne
Montreal, QC
Grade 2 (ages 7-8)

I introduced the students to pop-ups, and we practiced basic paper engineering techniques.  

Then I helped them create the five pop-up structures for their book. Each student chose five animals and matched each one with an emotion and a pop-up structure (here: raccoon + fear + mouth). They illustrated the pop-ups and wrote the text. Then we assembled the pages of the book and added the cover. The three classes held a book launch to showcase their work.

Animals & Emotions
PP Natural Disasters

Environmental Studies
Workshop: Pop-Up Book

École Merton Elementary
Côte-Saint-Luc, QC
Grade 4 (ages 9-10)

This project was a collaboration between myself, the French teacher and the science teacher. The goal was to display the students’ pop-up books at the school science fair. The students learned about different kinds of natural disasters in science class and then wrote about them in French class. I helped them create six pop-ups which they illustrated. Then they added the text, assembled the pop-ups, and created the cover.

Envirormental Studies
PP comic book

Cross-Curricular Hardcover Books
Workshop: Hardcover Book (Big)

École Saint-Laurent
Brossard, QC
Grade 5 (ages 10-11) 

Sometimes, students create comic books instead of a traditional narrative.


At this school, the teachers organized a series of activities leading up to the bookbinding project: they visited a printing shop, invited a comic artist into their classroom, and researched the history of comics.


After the bookbinding was complete, they held an exhibition to display their work.

Cross-Curricular Hardcovers
Connecting Though Mail Art

Connecting Through Mail Art
Workshop: Mail Art

Twin Oaks Elementary
Laval, QC
Pre-Kindergarten to grade 6 (ages 4 to 12) 

Each grade level decided where they wanted to send their cards/letters: to seniors in a residence, healthcare workers, penpals in another school, or family members.


Here are a few examples of the mail art activities: 

The youngest students were introduced to mail art through Canadian and international postage stamps and then they designed their own stamps. Older students made artist stamps, out-of-the-ordinary envelopes, unique foam printing stamps and pop-up envelopes.

Book Arts & Language Learningig

Book Arts and Language Learning
(All workshops are possible)

Pictured: various projects

Book arts are an excellent vehicle for language learning. As someone living--and teaching--in Quebec, most of my school workshops take place in French, although some are in English and even a couple of other languages. (Such as German at a Saturday school!) Workshops are often in the children's second (or third) language, and the visual aspect definitely helps with communication. 

As an ESL teacher and language coach, I have organized paper projects with my adult students too. Some examples: hardcover and accordion books to showcase students’ writing; and pop-ups and artist books to make tricky aspects of the language fun and engaging.


And that's not all. Book arts projects have made my own language learning more creative and effective too. Though not perfect, my languages have allowed me to bridge the communication barrier and teach book arts to speakers of Spanish (Biblioteca infantil de Oaxaca, Mexico) and Japanese (Ino Community Centre, Kochi, Japan). Here's to lifelong learning!

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