Biography projects

8 Jan

I hope everyone is having an enjoyable start to their new year!

I just did a Google search for types of projects you could do with biographies.  I am having my students research a famous Hispanic and I get so bored reading types papers I am sure it is boring to them too).

I found some great stuff at Pro Teacher.  I wanted to share my favorites with you.  If you have ideas, please share them too. Here they are:

1:  A teacher in our school did this project with our Gifted/Talented kids and it worked great. Each student had to bring in pictures from various eras of their life. First, they created a Life Map (timeline) of their life. Then, they used the pictures and information from the Life Maps to create a brochure about their life. On the front, they put their most recent picture. The title was, “The Life and Times of …” Inside, they started with infancy and carried it through until today. They listed accomplishments, interests, and etc. It was a fresh take on Auto Bios. I suppose this could work for Biographies, too. The students could create their own Life Maps and bring in pictures. You could assign each student a partner to interview and create a brochure or Bio. about that person’s life.

2:  Last year I had my students, who were very bright, read biographies and bring in a garbage bag full of items that represented/symbolized the person they read about. I was so impressed and amazed with the thought that went into this project, many of the students completed two just because they wanted to!!! For example, some of the things they brought in were: a candle because Florence Nightingale was a vigilant person, a soccer ball for Majorie Stoneman Douglas because she achieved her goals, an Energizer battery, because she kept going, and going, and going. They had to briefly give an oral summary about their person, then share the garbage bag.

3:  I have done a cereal box book report with my students. The students read a biography and designed their cereal box to include a Wheaties like picture of the person. On the back, students wrote about the person. For the nutrition facts, they included the “ingredients” of the person which was their character traits. On other parts of the box, the students used their creativity to add fun facts about the person.

I recommend using an actual cereal box and covering it with construction paper. Then students should type or write on light colored paper and glue it on the construction paper background.

4.  For the wax museum, I first had my kids research a famous, yet imaginative person in history (this went along with our Open Court Unit and the unit project of Biography) The kids chose people like Claude Monet, Henry Ford, Duke Ellington and the like. They researched them, wrote their biographies, etc. Then, to present their findings, the kids wrote a one paragraph “summary” of the person’s life in the 1st person point of view. On the day of the museum (today!), the kids dressed up as that person, stood still as a statue, and had a poster of their name and a “button” (just a red circle) people could push. The kids from other classes came by, pushed the button, and my students “came to life” and recited the speech, as if they were a wax statue at a museum. When they were done, they just stopped in the same position the began in, just as an animatronic statue would.

5:  For our unit on biographies my students do bio-folder projects. They have a file folder which they designed like a book about their individual. They create a timeline about their lives, a poem sharing what made that person incredible, along with a portrait. Then they create a pipecleaner model of their individual. Last year I added a bio-cube to the project using the bio-cube maker from ReadWriteThink. My kids really seem to enjoy it as they get to express their information in a variety of ways rather than just a written report.

6:   Bio Cubes–I had my assistant make cube patterns out of poster board (these make a 3-d cube or box). The students had instructions of what to write on each side of the cube:
1. name, birthdate, deathdate
2. what the person was famous for
3. they glued a picture of their person
4. something they found interesting that they didn’t know
5. important facts
6. I think on this side, we listed our resources.

It gave the kids something concrete to hold and handle. They love it. At the end of the unit, they shared their cubes and we hung them from clothes hangins to display.

I also found this during the search:

5 Pocket People:  Directions for making the 5 Pocket People

Use poster board for the body

The person’s body must be decorated with at least 5 different kinds of material, such as:  felt, fabric, buttons, burlap, leather, plastic, yarn for hair, ribbons, straw, old pieces of jewelry, beads etc…. NO FOOD ITEMS.

The face must be drawn on with crayon, colored pencils, markers, paint, made from felt, or colored construction paper.

Your figure must have 5 pockets on the costume.  They may be on the hat, legs, arms or body.  You may cut slits into the cardboard to use as pockets.

In each Pocket there must be different kinds of information:

  1. The name of the person, date and place of birth.  Also include the reason for choosing this person.
  2. Tell about the person’s family and childhood.  For example, give information about the person’s parents, brother/sisters, his/her education etc…
  3. Why is he/she important or famous?  What did they do that made the world take notice?
  4. Tell about special interests or hobbies of your person.  If none are mentioned you may write about a fact that was of interest to you.
  5. What difficulty or challenges did your person face in life?   If none are mentioned, when did your person die?  If the person is alive, how old is he/she?

I am leaning towards the bio-folder idea, what do you think?

¡Gracias!  Penny

One Response to “Biography projects”

  1. Angela Armendarez January 9, 2013 at 5:01 pm #

    Penny, Hola Amiga. Those are some great ideas and definitely sound more interesting than just writing a paper! I hope your holidays were great and the time off was relaxing. Feliz Año Nuevo, Angela

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