ATA Magazine

Secret windows bring social studies to life

Template for a project

Each fall my Grade 7 social studies class steps into the age of exploration through the eyes of the various crews that tried to find a route to China. The adventures of 10 famous explorers can be a challenge to track, so we use secret windows instead of yet another screen-based digital assignment. (I like to go old school and do a paper project first thing in the year.)  

The secret window documents that we create contain general information on the outside and increasingly interesting and obscure details inside. When properly made, they make a popping sound when the secret inner chambers are revealed.

I love the way it flips shut like a treasure chest of buried secrets from all the explorers!

This assembly takes about 15 minutes of directed folding, cutting and weaving. As for content, the front cover is a postage stamp of the student’s favourite explorer and inside are 10 sections bearing the explorer’s name, portrait, two character traits and a public view of their exploration.

The hidden inner chamber contains secrets of the explorers’ adventures.

Process demo for a paper project

I have been teaching for 15 years and can honestly say that this is one of my favourite projects for studying content in a fun way. My students rave at how cool and fun these are. I often hear them say, “I love the way it flips shut like a treasure chest of buried secrets!”

Examples of the finished project

Video Tutorial

To find step-by-step video instructions, search “secret door card” on YouTube.