Altered Books – A Friday Assignment

Cover of Altered Book

Cover of Altered Book

In order to give my Art II students something to look forward to at the end of the school week, I have given them an altered book assignment to work on every Friday. The assignment is something that I have always wanted to do myself, so I am also creating an altered book at home in the evenings. I have found that having an example of an assignment that students can hold helps them understand what I want. So each Friday I bring my altered book to show them.

So, what exactly is an altered book? It is a book that has been altered with various art media in order to change it from a book to an original work of art. The theme for my students’ altered books is ART. That theme is not exactly original, but I feel it is a great theme in order to stress the elements of art, the principles of design, and various art techniques.

Our school librarian donated numerous hardbound books for us to use. The books are old obsolete encyclopedias. It feels good to be able to recycle these books. I asked my students to look for things at home that they might be able to use in their books. Some of the items I mentioned are:

junk mail, coupons, puzzle pieces,
magazines, feathers, ticket stubs,
stickers, old postmarks, stamps,
ribbons, yarn, thread, old jewelry,
beads, shells, and candy wrappers.

Design Made with Markers

Design with Markers

The altered book counts as a major test grade. This nine weeks the students are being graded on the cover design and three double pages. When I say “double page” I mean two pages facing each other when the book is open. The cover design is 40 points and each of the 3 double pages counts as 20 points each for a total of 100. I will grade the student on their creativity, originality, effort, following directions and craftsmanship.

Last year I gave my students a similar assignment but the students were allowed to pick their own theme. That did not work well because many of my students lacked motivation and self-direction. So I learned from my mistake. This year, not only have I specified a theme but I have also told them certain requirements for their pages. I have also set a deadline of October 7. This deadline will be the first of several since the students will work on their altered books for the full semester.

Page Showing Texture

Pages of Texture

The three double pages required this nine weeks are:

  • drawings that express the students interests and personality,
  • a creative design using markers,
  • and a page that incorporates collage with pictures and words.

I have quite a list of altered book pages that I will assign in the future. I will let you know how it goes and will post some of the pages from the books for you to see as they get turned in.

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3 Responses to Altered Books – A Friday Assignment

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  3. Elizabeth Ward says:

    I teach photography and I require my students to work on their altered books for a grade also.

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