Lawhon Elementary students make own books

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – A year-long project at Lawhon Elementary School is teaching students about writing, art and research.
Each of the school’s roughly 550 students received a blank hardcover book in the fall and each has been working to fill it with text and art and to design its cover.
Students have worked on the project, which was funded by a grant from the Association for Excellence in Education, both in their regular classrooms and in art classes.
“They can connect school work with real life,” said Lawhon art teacher Amanda Koonlaba, who wrote the winning AEE grant. “This is real life, making a book. If they make connections, they will remember it and retain it.”
Illustrator Michael P. White also visited the school during the fall, thanks to the grant, and spoke to students about creating characters.
Each classroom teacher has used different themes for their students’ books – from the ABCs of third grade to school-year memories to friendly letters, among others.
Many fourth-grade classes made books about Mississippi, tying them to the social studies curriculum.
Students in Merrie Grayson’s fourth-grade class said they researched such topics as the state mammal, reptile, insect and flower. They also had entries on the blues and Elvis, as well as a personal story.
“You learn facts about things,” said student Garrett Kent, 10.
Classmate Jena Klauser, 10, really enjoyed the project because she loves art.
Meanwhile, Johnny Tynes, 10, said despite working on the book all year, he did not get tired of it.
chris.kieffer@journalinc.com