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AYER — During her illustration unit, Page Hilltop School art teacher Joyce Youngberg encourages children to create pictures to fill a book.

Each grade has a different “form” that its book will take, but all of the grades have one thing in common: Their pictures have to tell a story.

“We have looked at Tomie de Paola’s ‘The Knight and the Dragon’ in which de Paola tells a story using only a few words,” said Youngberg. “I have asked the children to create a short story where it doesn’t matter what language you speak. Anyone should be able to pick up their illustrations and be able to tell the story.”

Youngberg is a pack rat of sorts.

“I never throw materials away. I always know that I will use them at some point,” she said. “I also get a lot of donations of recyclable materials that are great for creative projects.”

This illustration activity allowed Youngberg to use a lot of donated and recycled materials.

“I love knowing that we never waste anything in this class,” she said.

The kindergartners are creating ABC books using some donated matte boards as the cover.

“The kids will be able to concentrate on one letter and use a variety of materials to make their book a tactile one as well as visual,” said Youngberg.

The first-graders will be choosing a shape to make their book out of.

“They can use circle-shape pages and have their book be about an orange or a basketball or the Earth, or they can use person-shaped pages and illustrate about a football player or a family or a ballerina. The possibilities are endless,” she said.

The second-graders, like the kindergartners, will be using matte boards to make their giant books.

“I am really trying to get them to take the initial directions and personalize their books to show their own unique personalities,” she said.

The third-graders are working on accordion-style books. “These 3-D creations allow for a lot of originality,” said Youngberg.

Finally, the fourth-graders are using donated crystal cases — CD cases — as the cover to their books. Students can cut out extra pages in the shapes of a circle. By cutting a small hole in the center, the extra pages can be cleverly hidden as a CD inside its case.

“The students all seem to love this activity,” said Youngberg. “They can show a lot of creativity and style and flair. I am always pleased with the outcomes.”

This is Youngberg’s 14th and last year at Page Hilltop. She is one of the teachers who will be retiring this June.

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