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Paintbrush Rocket | 4th Grade – Aminah Robinson Accordion “RagGonNon” Books
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4th Grade – Aminah Robinson Accordion “RagGonNon” Books

4th Grade – Aminah Robinson Accordion “RagGonNon” Books

Formally known as, Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson, Aminah Robinson has become one of my top 10 favorite artists I teach.  Her artwork is no narrative, students love to see it, hear the story and are ready to create after the incredible visual stimulation of a slideshow of her work.

Here are a few fun facts about Aminah Robinson along with some of my favorite original pieces of hers:

  • Aminah lived her entire life in Columbus, Ohio
  • Aminah decided one day, she was sick and tired of doing her hair, so she cut it all off.  She lived many years bald by choice.
  • The elder women in her family had a huge impact on her art. They shared many stories of how their ancestors came from Africa as slaves, and then the road to freedom.  Aminah’s art is filled with these stories and stories of others she found in hundreds of hours of research in the library, one of her favorite places.
  • Aminah’s dad also impacted her art, he taught her to see with deep concentration.  She would look at something until she could turn away and sketch it from memory in her sketchbook. He taught her how to sculpt out of “Hogmawg” – a made up clay, made from mud, sticks, glue and pigment.
  • Aminah is most known for her “RagGonNon’s” – A work of art that took years to create and research. They reference the past, present and future.



Accordion books are very simple and fun to teach.  In anticipation of this project, several weeks before, I had to catch up one of my four classes that had fallen behind. My other three classes were in charge of watercoloring the papers that we used for the books.  Each student covered an 18×24 white 80lb. watercolor paper in the chosen color group of the day.  We painted the papers on BOTH SIDES with left over TIE-DYE! Yes, you got that right, Tie-Dye! It makes beautiful watercolor paints!  Since it was still in squirt bottles, I walked around squirting dye on paper and let the students move it around.  It was quick and effective!

When we were ready to move ahead with the project, I cut them into 6×24″ strips.  Every student needed two pieces and two pieces of 6″ square cardboard.



Both papers are folded the same… First in half, then one side folds back towards the fold, flip over and same on the other side. Basic accordion fold.


Once you have two pieces folded, I stand them up on their sides.  You want an them to look like the letters M & W. Glue the right side of the M to the left side of the W. After I demonstrate, I make sure all students have M & W before they glue. It is easy to glue wrong.



Then before moving on… they ALL should have something that looks like this…


Next, students pick out two 6″ long pieces of yarn for tying books closed, (if you want to do this step).  I have students tape them on with masking tape.  Tape one side in the center of the open side, (non fold), flip book over and tape second piece of yarn in the same spot, so pieces match.  Then, glue on cardboard covers to each side with glue stick.





Students completed a Storyboard for their book, to work out their thoughts.  Like Aminah Robinson, I wanted them to reference the past presence and future.  Since they are young, with limited life experience, they could use two present time if they wanted to.  They were to write their sentences first, then illustrate. It worked out great!


Before starting to write sentences and illustrate, students added some fabric inside to frame in the spaces. I was very happy with the results!  The books are so great! Take a look at the whole process… we had a lot of fun!





Back of the books, they were able to write a word that was symbolic of the book.





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