Experiment with paper engineering: Provide students with construction paper and safety scissors.
To create a simple pop-up rectangle, fold your
paper in half and make two cuts parallel to each
other about one inch apart across the fold (be careful not to cut more than halfway across the paper).
Fold the tab you just created backwards and forwards. Now open your piece of paper like a book
and push your tab toward you. If you would like
to try making a cityscape cut different-sized tabs
along the fold to create different-sized buildings.
Then place your paper so that one side of the fold
is flat on your desk and the other is perpendicular
to the table, with the inside fold facing you, and
you will be able to see your skyline. Students can
draw architectural details on their buildings, add
a street, or join their pages together to make one
long street or neighborhood.
Through the power of fiction, the Jump-Ups did
not worry about an inhospitable environment
when they visited Mars. If people were really to
vacation on Mars, what type of problems do you
think they would encounter? Maybe lack of oxygen, extreme temperatures, and violent weather?
Tell your students that they will be taking an
imaginary vacation to Mars, and ask them to
design a shelter that would support them for one
week while on their vacation. Remind them to
think about the atmosphere on Mars, and what
they would need in order to survive (food, water,
You may not realize it, but illustrators, authors,
and paper engineers make several design decisions
outside of the look of the book. All picture books
more advanced folding techniques to create scenes
that would literally “pop-up” by themselves when
opened. Illustrators would work with paper engineers to fully realize
their creations. The
paper engineer would
typically work out the
mechanics of the book
and then send it to a
factory where each page was printed and cut by
machine. The cut and printed pages were then sent
to craftspeople who would do the final pasting of
the pop-up elements by hand.
As a historical object, the book gives us a
glimpse at what life may have been like
in mid-twentieth-century America.
the accompanying visu-
als). Pop-up books make
reading more fun and
encourage children to
start reading at an early
age. As a marketing tool,
pop-up books can be sold as books alone or as a toy.
Paper engineers test their design skills by creating
more elaborate pop-ups with as little material and
labor as possible. Illustrators and designers also
create appropriate color schemes and illustrations
suitable for their audience. Designers must make
choices when placing and designing text to make it
easy to read and relatable to the illustrations.
allow parents and children to interact with each
other, while having separate experiences with the
book (the adult reads the text and the child watches
SchoolArts March 2009
Like all picture books, pop-up books were created
for parents and children to have a shared experience of reading a story together—the parent is
engaged through reading the text and seeing his or
her child’s reaction to the pop-ups, and the child
is engaged through experiencing the pop-ups and
listening to his or her parent read. Ask students to
think of two groups of people that may not necessarily relate to the same form of media. Now ask
students to work in groups to design a method of
communicating a story to both groups while also
creating a shared experience (like the pop-up book).
For example, what type of system would you create
to engage a sight-impaired person and a teenager?
Would you use something tactile for the sight-impaired person and something digital for the
teenager? How would you incorporate these different methods while also engaging the two people or
groups with each other?
By Allison Valchuis, Kim Robledo-Diga, and Erin
McCluskey. Valchuis is education programs assistant;
Robledo-Diga is professional development manager; and
McCluskey is public education manager at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum.
How do we design ways of communicating information to specific groups? Would you design an ad
campaign to target middle school boys the same
way you would design a campaign that targeted
high school girls? What types of design decisions
do authors, illustrators, and graphic designers make
when they are creating a book for a target audience?
Things to Consider