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The Toy Book: A Desktop Publishing Project
About this Daily Classroom Special: The Toy Book: A Desktop Publishing Project was written by Shavawn Peterson, a lead teacher for the Department of Broadcast and Communication Arts at the Attucks Middle School in Broward County, Florida.

The Toy Book: A Desktop Publishing Project

Designed for Grades: 6-8

Activity Summary: Take a topic children love: toys…add a few academic requirements and you’ve the making of a long-term project that gets all your students involved.

Students survey their peers to determine the top 10 toys for the holiday season. After students have compiled their data, they rank-order the results. These results are compiled in a booklet entitled: The Toy Book...Top 10 Toys for the Holiday Season!

The booklet can then be distributed or sold to adults who may need a little assistance in selecting gifts for children.

I know the writer always needs lots of help during this time of the year!

In sum, a book by children, written for adults!

This lesson covers a wide range of content areas. It's multi-disciplinary!

Curriculum Content Areas: Language Arts, Art, Journalism, Critical Thinking, and Mathematics, Marketing and Research, Consumerism and Computer Technology

Materials Needed: Pens or pencils, color markers or crayons, computer, word processing program, clipboards, toys, camera and/or videotaping equipment.

Word processing program suggestion: ClarisWorks, Creative Writer by Microsoft

Activity Duration: One semester, if you start in the fall. Final completion two weeks before winter break.

Objectives: Students will:

  • Develop their analytical skills
  • Learn to how-to draw conclusions based on a set of criteria
  • Enhance oral and written communication skills
  • Learn how-to work cooperatively
  • Improve computer keyboarding skills
  • Practice basic math skills: division, percent, and addition

Teacher Activities

  • Solicit local vendors for donated toys. Get new toys!
    • Aim for 10-20 toys
    • Vary your selection: Educational toys, board games, card games, books*, electronic toys, hands-on toys
      (*Keep books to a minimum. It’s hard to survey books among a large group. Interactive books are good. Last year Barnes and Noble donated a book for children to use while travelling by car. Luckily, one of my students was going to Disney World that weekend. She "tested" the book while travelling.)
    • Ask vendors to suggest their company’s anticipated hot sellers for the holiday season.
    • This gives you baseline data. Suggestion: Compare students’ baseline to vendors’ baseline.
    • Create focus groups**
      (**Focus group: A group of persons brought together for a common goal for the purpose of conducting research. In your case, your focus groups will be groups of 4-5 students involved in play. Your focus groups are essentially, playgroups. Your focus groups will play with the toys while being observed by your students.)
    • Identify students who will participate in your students’ survey.
    • Ask teachers if you can "borrow" their class for one-two class periods
    • Schedule times for focus group
    • Locate area for playgroup surveying. Large open area works best (e.g. media center)
    • Explain project to students

Student Activities

Day #1

  1. Brainstorm a variety of fun toys.
    • Teacher Note: Use this list to supplement vendor toy suggestions.

Day #2

  1. Rank-order list.
    • This becomes students' baseline data. Survey results can be compared to vendor and student baseline data.
    • Homework assignment: Each student will rank-order class data based on their personal preferences.

Day #3

  1. Compile individual student list. Create one big class rank-ordered list.

  2. Discuss marketing aspects.

    • Who will use this book?
    • How do you know they need the book?
      • Teacher: Here's a good reason for creating a user survey. Students can make-up a survey to use with their parents to determine if they have a problem selecting toys for kids. Class or group activity.
    • What type of information will the buyer/user need to make a good decision when buying toys?
    • What kinds of mistakes do adults make when selecting toys?
    • Have you (the student) ever gotten a toy you did not like?
      • If so, what didn’t you like about the toy? (Teacher: Direct students to use this information to help determine the type of information you will include in your toy book).


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