First you need to get very large paper. I learned the hard way that thinner paper actually works better because there is a lot of folding involved. If the paper is too thick, it's difficult for the students to fold and make the creases neat. You need to have 32 boxes. I have my students turn the paper so that it is horizontal, then fold it over so it looks like a book. I keep having them do this until they have 32 spaces.
Next, I encourage my students to use a ruler and create outlines of the boxes in Sharpie. I know what you're thinking...there are 32 boxes, but only 26 letters of the alphabet! Don't worry. There is a reason for this. The first two boxes are used as a title and the last two boxes are used for the student's name. The two boxes before their name are used for a problem and solution. In the problem box, students identify a problem that occurred in this time period and the solution box contains the solution to that problem. (See photo)
With my current class, I am having my students create their alphabook around the time periods of World War I and the 1920s. For each letter, they must brainstorm a person, event, etc. from this time period that begins with that letter. For more difficult letters, they can just use a word that contains that letter and make the letter stand out. They also include a short sentence explaining their word as well as a simple illustration. To help them organize their ideas, I made a brainstorming page with each letter of the alphabet so that they could record ideas as we read through our unit. Some examples of what they wrote down were Lusitania for "L", Woodrow Wilson for "W", U-boats for "U", trench warfare for "T" and so on.
Here are two examples of a final product from students in previous classes. These students' alphabooks were created for The Turn of the Century.
This is a great idea to use for a summative assessment for any of your units to see how much your students have learned. Have you ever used alphaboxes in your class?