The Access Excellence Periodic Tableau

Our Endangered Resources: The Trees

Using Science Writing through Imagery and Making Recycled Paper

Maria Elena Robles
Lake View High School
Chicago, IL

Type of entry


Type of activity

Target Audience

Background information

What question does this activity help students to answer?

- Why is recycling paper important?

Notes for teacher

Regarding the imagery

If you choose to let the students draw their image, plan on an extra day, they get all excited and want to make it just like their mental image. I t helps to let the students draw their mental image, especially for the students who have mental blocks about creative writing. The discussion before hand is important because it gives everyone more options and ideas for their mental imagery.

Regarding paper-making:

It may get a bit messing, keep a broom and mop handy. If the students choose to use their hands in the bin or in the plastic baggie, warn them that all the newspaper ink will stain their hands. If you get large gallon or quart bags, students can work together. I allow them to choose cold or warm water, so the experience is pleasant for them.

Required of students

Ask them to keep their area neat and be open to their creative ideas.

Preparation time needed: 1-3 hours

Try the paper making yourself, so that you are comfortable giving a class demonstration. If you want to use a blender for making pulp, try a second hand store. A blender is faster, however I feel the students don't get the same experience.

You will need to buy the supplies. The bins I use cost one dollar, they are plastic and can be used for storage or other projects later. you want to set up particular questions for discussion.

Class time needed

Five to seven classes needed:

Abstract of Activity

The students use mental imagery,discussion, personal involvement through creative writing and a hands-on activity to understand and appreciate the value of trees and the importance of trees as a resource.


  1. Discuss the importance of trees, characteristics of trees.

  2. Imagine yourself with your favorite tree. Discuss their imagery; the different trees, time of day, location of trees (you may ask the students to draw their image)

  3. Students write a story using the above imagery entitled "My best friend" (Their best friend the tree)
    A. 1st paragraph: describe the setting; day or night, the season, sunny or cloudy, the surroundings.
    B. 2nd paragraph: Characteristics of your friend.
    C. 3rd paragraph: Why is he always such a good friend? give examples
    D. 4th paragraph: "they" say they want to destroy him! how do you feel and what can you do about it?

  4. Discuss why recycling is important

  5. Recycle old newspapers
    A.Materials needed:
    1. newspaper
    2. plastic baggies (keeps the hands clean) or small bins (give the students the opportunity to touch and feel the process) for hand mixing water and the pieces of paper
    3. screen (one per student)
    4. sponges (one per student)
    5. a bin for removing excess water at each station
    6. optional: an oven, an iron, a sunny pavement for quick drying

    B. Method:
    1. shred the newspaper into tiny pieces ( the smaller the better)
    2. put the pieces of paper into the bag or bin and add water
    3. use your hands to massage the mixture.
    4. when no more print is visible it is ready.
    5. at each station: lay out newspaper( or plastic), bin, screens & sponges.
    6. using the patting technique of paper making, students may have to add more water in order to fill up all the spaces on the screen use the sponge to remove excess water, once all the spaces are filled flip the paper onto a clean piece of paper for drying.
    7. dry the paper: air dry (1-2 days) or quick dry by using a cool iron over a the hand ( put a sheet of dry newspaper over the hand made paper before ironing it. You may also put it into the oven set at 250 - 300 degrees.
    8. options: use natural dyes from vegetables and teas. Have students add it to their paper pulp . Use dry

  6. write a selected line from their creative writing essay onto their recycled paper.

  7. display their work

Method of evaluation/assessment

Essentially the evaluation is the results of their creative endeavors using scientific facts. Project evaluation is important to see if indeed the students learned and understand the material covered. Let them help you asses how the project may improve upon for next year. Assessment for state goals can be in a form of a written test.

Extension/Reinforcement/Additional ideas

Historically it can take a path in the history of paper making, Comparing the Chinese technique to the hand patting technique (used in this project). The importance of paper in the history of language and communication.

Compare the different fibers for paper-making such as cotton, lint, fruit and vegetable fibers. Look at the different fibers under the microscope, and make paper with the other fibers.

Creative writing through imagery can assessment many science topics. I have tried it with the flower, predator vs prey, endangered species, the development of a seed.

Create a science literacy magazine: Students compile their best writings into a booklet. Students can learn word processing and desktop publishing skills.

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