A Visual Method of Culminating Curricula That is Organic

Renaissance timeline mobile (made with a copper pipe ring from the hardware store)

As my kids and I covered many areas of study, I found myself wondering how we could remember the awesome material we learned.  As we discussed the Renaissance, Linnaean classification system of living things, birds, and more, I wanted to come up with a visual way of recording our journey.  What I developed was 3-D collage; a hanging mobile to capture our studies.  This concept worked really well with the Linnaean classification system.  The labels at the top were the kingdoms, and then at the bottom of the mobile were the genus and species (dogs, cats, fish, etc).

My favorite aspect to culminating work in a hanging mobile — it’s a fractal media — you can choose what information you want to include, you can work and build as you go — or create your implements/symbols and then string them together at the end.  They can be easily packed away too; I built binders with work samples each year.  When we were all done for the year and I wanted to build our learning binder, after taking a photo of the mobile, I cut the objects off and mounted them to pages in the binder.

California Out of the Box curriculum culmination

An additional benefit to creating mobiles is you can work with materials you already have around home.  My California Out of the Box curriculum includes a mobile activity to culminate immigration stories students learn about during the year.  Students can choose a stick from their home or a natural environment they have explored and use this collected item as the basis for hanging pieces of the story and other icons or moments families find memorable.  Students are free to use string/ribbon, colored paper, markers, etc, to make an organic collage including symbols they find meaningful.

Study of birds mobile

Finally, the part I enjoy the most about making mobiles is they are beautiful to look at.  I still have a mobile my kids made 3 years ago hanging in my living room window.  While we were studying birds we also explored poetry, folklore, and mythology about birds.  I looked online for templates of birds we would read about.  We printed them out on colored cardstock and cut them out tightly along the bird outlines.  As we read folklore, I challenged my kids to come up with one descriptive word to describe the bird in the story.  (For a great list of descriptive words, we used the IEW List of Banned Words found in the Student Resource Notebook.)  My children wrote their word on the back of the bird.  They found a stick they liked to use as the frame for the mobile.  Using pipe cleaners, they hung their birds on these sticks.  Some birds were hanging, some were perching.  They are still lovely to look at!

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