Monday, December 24, 2012

In the Art Room: Kindergarten Reindeer

Have you ever seen a reindeer that A.) Resembles Jay Leno and B.) Looks this cute resembling Jay Leno? I didn't think so.
Happy Christmas Eve to you! So the story goes that if you've been well-behaved, you'll be getting a visit from some chubby dude and his entourage of reindeer this evening. Lead by the one and only Rudolph, of course.

My kindergarten artists spent several art classes sculpting these reindeer masterpieces that, despite leaving me feeling as though it was not Grandma that got run over by reindeer but the Art Teacher, made me seriously proud. And, after one told me, "My mom is going to be so happy about my reindeer that she is going to say, 'Oh! Goodness that is the best little reindeer ever!'", I knew they were proud too.
How on earth did these five and six year olds create such amazement? With a half an hour, it really was nothing short of a Christmas Miracle. This lesson had some serious "Okay! Plan B!" moments so I thought I'd share with you how they were created. 
Our inspiration, of course. I've had this book since childhood. In fact, it even has my name written on the inside in my five year old handwriting.

For this lesson, we used the following:
  • Low fire clay
  • A stencil for the base
  • Brown, clear, white, black and red Stroke and Coat Glaze
  • Clay mats
  • Skewer sticks
  • Toothbrushes and cups of water
  • Ziplock bags and damp paper towels
  • A mountain of baby wipes
Several of my students put their reindeer together just as they would draw them: with their legs all in a row. 

I broke this lesson down in many days after trying to cram too much in during one class. When that lesson ended in tears (I managed to dry up before the fourth graders walked in), I decided to drag the lesson out even further. I'd rather give the kids too much time then to rush them. Being a super slow processor myself, I understand the need for lots of time. And tissues. Here's how I broke it down, yo:

On the First Day of Reindeer Clay, I gave to them one grapefruit sized piece of clay. I told them something crazy like, "hold your clay in front of your chest above your clay mat, drop it and pound it flat as a pancake." For a full minute the art room sounded like an elephant stampede with kid giggles throughout. Once flattened, the kids flipped their clay over to the smooth, not-pounded-on side and used their skewer sticks to trace the base shape. And that took us the entire art class, believe it or not. Each child was given a damp paper towel and a ziplock bag with their name on it. They were to "wrap their clay up in its blanket, put it in it's sleeping bag and say 'nightie-night'" until next time.
On the Second Day of Reindeer Figurines, I gave to them one piece of clay the size of a tangerine. We chatted about how many legs a deer has and I showed the children how to divide their clay into fourths. Twist sphere of clay in half and Viola! two pieces of clay. Twist other two pieces and Double Viola! now you have four. From there, they learned how to roll their clay into coils the length of their finger.
On the Second Day of Reindeer Clay, that really wasn't all, for the head I gave them one small ball. Once their coil legs were complete, they created a head. For one class, I tried to have them create all the coils, the head and assemble. That proved to be a reindeer train wreck. We just didn't have the time. Plan B for the following classes was to create all of the parts, wrap them up in a paper towel, gently place them on the base and place the base back into the bag until next time.

On the Third day of Reindeer Crazy, we had zero time for being lazy. The kids assembled their reindeer by "gluing" with the toothbrush and some slip to legs together for the front and two legs together for the back. These two sets were then glued together. Hooves were bent outward and assembled to the base. Lastly the head was added and our reindeer were kiln ready. Once dry, of course.

While the reindeer were drying, my other classes would come in and notice the reindeer. Except they didn't take them for reindeer. They'd say, "Oh! What cute dogs! Who made them?!" It reminded me of the story I read to the kindergarteners while we waited for some of our friends to finish sculpting, Olive the Other Reindeer. Like Olive, our little reindeer just needed some antlers to complete their look.
On the Fourth Day of Reindeer Craze, my little artists were ready to glaze! And I was so proud of their careful attention to detail.
"My Rudolph is a girl and she likes to wear a lot of red lipstick."
On the Last Day of our Reindeer Critter, our reindeer received his antlers made of pipe cleaner glitter! Now I was down to the wire on this, time wise. Normally, I'd expect the kids to create their own antlers, but between programs, field trips and assemblies, we just ran out of time. Thankfully, a very kind aide (thank you, Heidi!) and I managed to get them hot glued in just in time to send them home with the artists.
 I love the unintentional resemblance to Beaker on the left. Notice the sweet little black foot prints in the snow on the one on the right.

And there you have it! Just in time to guide someone's sleigh tonight. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas Eve and Day tomorrow. Enjoy!


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  2. Geez, Phyl!! Your kind words totally made my day :) Thank you so much!!


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