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Box Ideas and Middle School Projects

written by: Kellie Hayden • edited by: Donna Cosmato • updated: 9/11/2012

The box projects in this lesson are for the middle school language arts classroom. One box activity is to be used with independent novels or Accelerated Reader novels. The other is to be used with a descriptive writing lesson. A sample rubric has been provided to assess the boxes.

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    Middle School Box Projects for the Language Arts Classroom

    Boxes are usually sitting around in someone's house, which makes them a cheap building material for projects. Box projects can show understanding, analysis and/or creativity about content presented in the classroom or for novels. For these activities, any shoe box will work.

    Language Arts Box Project

    Materials Needed: Students should be provide all of the materials except for typical items that a teacher may already have in his or her classroom: markers, colored pencils, magazines, scissors, glue sticks, etc.

    In the middle school language arts classroom, boxes can be used for a variety of projects. Here are two ideas:

    Scene or Setting in a Novel

    The scene box is a box project that can be used with independent novels or Accelerated Reader novels. Accelrated Reader is a reading program that promotes independent reading. The scene boxes will display a climatic or important scene or event in an independent novel that a student has read. These boxes will become "advertisements" for the other students in the class that will promote the book as a good read. Student can use small toys, clay, Lego’s, construction paper, play dough, etc to construct a scene or of a novel they read. It is important that the title of the book and the author are displayed prominently inside the box.

    When the boxes are complete, they can be stacked to make a "wall" of box "bricks." After the wall is complete, students can share their book with the class by telling about the scene and the book as a whole.

    Bedroom Box

    The bedroom box is to be used with a descriptive writing assignment. Students need to recreate their current bedroom in a shoe box. It should be as close to the real thing as students can manage. All of the major furniture pieces should be correctly placed in the box. Posters, pictures, and decorations should also be included. It is helpful if students take a photo of their rooms and then try to recreate them.

    After the bedroom box is made, students will need to write a descriptive essay about their bedroom. The essay should include an introduction, body and conclusion. It is important that students do not write their names on the final copy of the essay or on a visible place on their box bedrooms. Students can use numbers assigned by the teacher instead. It should be written so that when a random student reads it, the student should be able to find the correct box from a "wall of box bedrooms" in the classroom.

    The random student reader should write a note to the student writer. The reader should tell the writer if it was easy to find the box or difficult due to the written description.

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    Assessing Box Projects with a Rubric

    The rubrics should be given to the students before they begin making the boxes. This is so that they understand how the boxes will be assessed. The following is an example rubric that can be used to assess the boxes:

    Level 4

    • Text-All text is neatly written and spelled correctly
    • Neatness-All items are precisely cut, made and/or attached/glued
    • Placement-All items are spaced properly, the correct size, and/or organized
    • Creativity and Color-The box is vibrant and/or color coordinated to match the scene or the room

    Level 3

    • Text-Most of the text is neatly written and spelled correctly
    • Neatness-Most of the items are properly cut, made and/or attached/glued
    • Placement-A few of the items are crowded, look oversized, and/or jumbled together
    • Creativity and Color-The box is mostly vibrant and/or mostly color coordinated to match the scene or the room

    Level 2

    • Text-Some of the text is neatly written and spelled correctly
    • Neatness-Some of the items are properly cut, made and/or attache/glued
    • Placement-Some of the items are crowded, look oversized, and/or jumbled together
    • Creativity and Color-The box is somewhat vibrant and/or somewhat color coordinated to match the scene or the room

    Level 1

    • Text-Very little of the text is neatly written and spelled correctly
    • Neatness-Few of the items are properly cut, made and/or attached/glued
    • Placement-Many of the items are crowded, look oversized, and/or jumbled together
    • Creativity and Color-The box is not vibrant and/or not color coordinated to match the scene or the room

    Rubrics are one easy way to assess the boxes. Or, the teacher can come up with a checklist to grade the boxes. Checklists and rubrics make the grading more objective and standardized.