By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
You might find one under a chair in the gym. On a shelf in the library. On top of lockers. Or behind a toilet in the girls’ bathroom. Hide-and-seek is half the fun of the MP Journal Project.
Shortly after winter break, Madison-Plains K-6 art teacher Jessie Mace hid five blank journals in different spots around Madison-Plains Intermediate School. On the inside cover of each, she provided instructions for whomever found them:
“Turn to the first empty page and fill it with words, pictures, drawings, stories or whatever you want! … After you’ve completed your page, continue the adventure by hiding the journal somewhere in the school for someone else to find.”
“It allows students to share something about themselves and learn something about other people,” Mace said. “And finding them makes it more exciting to write or draw than a plain old classroom project.”
Mace got the idea for the activity at a state art conference at which a California artist talked about how he sent 1,000 blank journals to 1,000 different places in the world. From the journals that eventually came back to him, he is publishing a book showcasing the most interesting entries.
“I thought it would be fun to do the same thing here, but on a much smaller scale,” said Mace, who had members of her after-school art club design the covers of the five journals.
“I encourage the students to think about their entries, even take the journal home with them, instead of scribbling something and hiding it right away,” said Mace.
Fourth-grader Jada Gilpen took Mace’s advice after finding one of the journals on a table in her reading teacher’s classroom.
“I was trying to think of what to draw. My friend, Owen, suggested I draw two people at a fancy event, so I picked a homecoming,” she said.
She took the journal home for the weekend and turned out a highly detailed drawing of a homecoming queen and king. She then re-hid the journal behind a classroom door.
It doesn’t matter what a student—or anyone else who finds one of the journals—draws or writes, as long as they are creative, Mace said.
Custodian Terry Curry embraced the spirit of the project when he found one of the journals while making the rounds of the school. He drew a self-portrait—ball cap, glasses, beard and all—and included a note: “Hi! I found this and now you have!”
Some participants share something about themselves, like fifth-grader Alyson Petee who created a colorful collage of pictures and words that conveys her love of horses. Others share their sense of humor, like fourth-grader Rylee Davis who drew a scene from the popular cartoon, “Sponge Bob Square Pants” and wrote: “This is my picture to put laughter in you.”
“It’s fun because the different grades get to see what the other grades do and learn about each other,” Mace said.
For now, the MP Journal Project targets students in fourth through sixth grade. Mace said she is considering extending it to younger students in the future. It will be ongoing through the end of the school year.