Literacy, Laser Cutters and Makers in the Fourth Grade

by Lower and Intermediate School Library and Information Services Specialist Mary Catherine Coleman

Fourth grade students in Maureen Cuesta’s class recently completed a laser cutter maker project connected to literacy.
Students first read books with animals as the main characters. Next, they spent time talking about and sharing details about their books, including main characters, settings and plots, before focusing on the main character of each of their books.
During their Integrated Learning and Information Science Library and Tech project time, students first drew and then created their main characters with different shapes. They looked at beginner drawing books and websites that illustrated step-by-step instructions using different shapes as the base for drawing. Students then sketched out their plans, first drawing complete illustrations of their animals, including details from the books, then breaking the drawings back into separate shapes.
Students discovered Google Drawing and its shapes tools and created the shapes illustrations in the program, thinking about size and scale. Fourth graders then downloaded their designs as .svg files and uploaded them to the new Glowforge Laser Cutter in the Kovler Family Library’s TIDES Garage. The laser cutter can cut materials including wood, cardboard and acrylic and also engrave many materials, including leather.
After cutting their designs from wood, students used different materials, including felt, fabric, paint and googly eyes, to add the final details to make their animal book characters.
All the animals and book reviews are on display in the library hallway. If you are looking for a new book to read, stop by the display to see the 4th graders’ creative work and learn about a new book!

Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.