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Centaur Knot Manual

School: Santa Fe School for the Arts & Sciences

City/State: Santa Fe, NM

Grade(s): 3, 4

Format(s): Book: Nonfiction/Informational

Subject(s): English Language Arts, Social Studies, Visual Arts

Project Overview

3rd and 4th grade students from the Santa Fe School for the Arts and Sciences in Santa Fe, New Mexico created this book of knots as part of a learning expedition on sailing.

As one part of their expedition, students studied different nautical knots, researching their origin and use. Students learned how to tie many of these knots. To show their learning, each student created a page in which they demonstrated how to tie a sailing-related knot. Showing and explaining the tying of knots is not an easy task—students do this well by combining digital photographs of many of the steps along with written instructions. Students also include information about how the knot could be used and the history of where the knot came from.

The photography was done by students. They added creative elements such as nautical artifacts that helps to make what could be mundane pictures into interesting photographic compositions.

Under the guidance of their teacher—an expert in wooden boat building—students also designed, built and then sailed a wooden sailboat. Page 2 of this book shows photographs of the students designing, building and sailing their boat. Although the boat design is based in large part on a professional wooden boat kit, and the teacher guided work closely, students were genuinely involved in all aspects of customizing the design and fabrication of the boat, working indoors and outdoors for months on this project. The resulting boat is both seaworthy and attractive and was an incredible and memorable accomplishment for students to actually sail in a boat that they had built themselves. 

How This Project Can Be Useful

  • Inspiring model of students designing, building and sailing their own boat as third and fourth graders; raises the standard of what students can achieve
  • An excellent model of procedural writing and explanatory photographs done by students; clear and aesthetically well done
  • Demonstrates that small touches in props and setting can make explanatory photographs much more interesting
  • Highlights a format in which the work of each student can be individually assessed

Relevant Resources

Common Core State Standards

Standard Long Term Learning Target
  • I can describe steps in a procedure, in the order they should happen.
  • I can use information from the words to understand informational texts.
  • I can explain the main points in a historical, scientific, or technical text, using specific details in the text.
  • I can explain how visual or graphic information helps me understand the text around it.
  • I can write an informative/explanatory text.
  • I can write informative/explanatory texts that convey ideas and information clearly.
  • With support from adults, I can produce writing that is appropriate to task and purpose.
  • I can conduct a research project to become knowledgeable about a topic.
  • I can produce writing that is appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
  • I can conduct a research project to become knowledgeable about a topic.
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