Ancient Garbage - bringing fun to ordinary lessons

Learning the creative way to make lessons fun

Hello again and welcome to the lastest instalment of the perfect lesson ending series I began last week. Have a look at part 1 and part 2 for more creative ideas and making learning - especially the end of lessons - well, more fun both for you and your students.

Because I am feeling productive at the moment (not such a rare thing), I have planned to extend the creative lesson series to include lesson starters that I use and are part of my toolkit. In this way, you can quickly build a host of learning resources that provide students with fun from the start of a lesson through to the end.

Anyhow, without further ado, the lesson ending I would like to share is called 'Ancient Garbage'.  I must admit the title is not very appealing, so feel free to come up with your own. My other ideas for the title were 'Any Old Rubbish', 'Let's make it tatty' and 'The worse it looks, the better'. Bear with me.

Item list

You will need:

  1. A4 plain paper
  2. Small container
  3. Coffee (or tea)
  4. Newspaper
  5. Time

This particular idea I picked up from the dark recesses of my mind that somehow remembered making old looking manuscript at primary school. If you remember doing something similar yourself, then you mayknow where I might be going with this idea.

The process

  1. Tear the A4 paper in half (to save my own time, I make this a task for students in a detention)
  2. Next, scrunch the smaller half-size paper into as tight a ball as possible. Do this at least three times, being careful not to tear the paper itself. Small tears are OK
  3. Fill the container with luke warm water and add 4 heaped tablespoons of coffee. My latest container is an old Indian takeaway container, the plastic kind, with a lid.
  4. Submerge the scrunched paper unfolded, ie in flat sheets into the coffee and water mix ensuring every part of the paper gets a covering. I submerge the paper one side and turn it over and do it again checking for good coverage, which must be total.
  5. Lay the newly submerged sheets of paper on top of the newspaper to dry.

A word of warning.

Results will depend on:

  • Quality of paper - Generally, if you use good quality paper, then it will usually have a gloss/sheen over it making it difficult for the coffee to absorb into the paper fibres.
  • Strength of the coffee mix - Simply put, the more coffee you use, the more ancient the paper will look.
  • The amount of scrunching - If you over- scrunch, the paper fibres will become too weak and will tear easily during submersion.

My advice is to do what I did and just have a go, you will surprise yourself as well as your students.

Image of old ancient looking paper

Be warned of the obvious fire hazards of drying the paper on a direct heat source and that radiators will be stained with strong coffee mix which is hard to remove.

So how on earth can the finished product be used as a creative and fun learning tool?

Well I use it for one of my many lesson endings and for when students have completed all of their tasks in regard to classwork. Simply ask students to design an ancient manuscript like an Egyptian scroll or a Leonardo Da Vinci type of paper that explains the main points/theme of the lesson. Once they are happy with their designs they can 'draw them for real' onto the coffee stained ancient looking paper.

Black ink is best. If students require inspiration, you or they could do a quick Google search for 'Egyptian scroll' or 'Leonard Da Vinci paper'. The most important thing is for students to express the main points/theme of the lesson. They could write out key words or draw out an example or two. The results always look fantastic.

I use A5 (half of A4) sized pieces of paper because students are able to glImage of ancient scrollsue their masterpieces into their exercise books. You may need to adjust the sizes of paper you use for your students.

When I first tried this, I was apprehensive because it was a year 10 group and thought the task was a bit too childish for them. Once again, the students showed how wrong I could be which is why I love students proving me wrong. They took to the task with gusto, enjoyed and tried to complete a good standard of work. Yes it is a bit of work actually making these resources, but the results are fantastic.

Have fun and keep learning.

Simple Trader