Wednesday, January 30, 2013

In the Art Room: Cuckoo for Cuckoo Clocks

Ain't no doubt about it, that's one cuckoo bird.
Dunno what time your alarm clock sounded this morning, but I was awoken at 2:55 am by tornado sirens. I flew outta bed looking every bit as crazed as the little pink bird above to check the weather...and, okay, to see if quite possibly they cancelled school for a severe storm. No go. And doncha know I couldn't fall back asleep. Which left me feeling a little tired and blue kinda like the cuckoo bird below.

Now doncha go and take me the wrong way, I love that quite little bird. Especially since it's every bit the opposite as it's feisty young creator.
However, once my second grade students starting putting the finishing touches on their cuckoo clocks and they started filling the drying racks with their masterpieces, my attitude quickly changed. I mean, just look at these guys! It's been a long project but I'm totally nuts, er, cuckoo over it.

A flock of Cuckoo-Bird-tasticness.
We began this lesson before Christmas with an introduction to Germany. From there we chatted all about the history of cuckoo clocks which I shared on What I Wore this Week #43. Ya'll might also recall I even crafted a Cuckoo Clock Frock. To begin creating their own wooden cuckoo clocks, the students began by painting two faux wood papers with brown paint and texture combs.

The following art class, the students used one piece of paper to cut a loom and the other paper to weave with. This was pretty easy for them as these guys are the ones who wove the Croco'Nile Puppets last year.
 Once the weaving was complete, we began working on our Roman Numeral clock faces. This was a big time math lesson for the kids and they enjoyed it. I'm lucky that my school has a dye cut machine for the clock hands as cutting out miniature clock hands would have driven us all cuckoo.
 The next couple of art classes were spent in Cardboard Printing Town. The students used 1" X 2" pieces of cardboard and some yellow paint that I added gold glitter to (I'm currently on this kick where I add that super fine glitter to all of the paint. I want everything to be sparkly!).
 We had a big time chat about patterns. I had tri-folded their 12" X 18" piece of construction paper and explained to them that what ever pattern they printed in the first column had to be repeated in the following two. We also had to have a chat about the dif between printing and painting as some of us were using our pieces of cardboard like a palette knife and just painting the paper gold (I'm not the only one addicted to sparkle). I have found the best way to explain the dif is this: printing is when you put something down and you pick it back up; painting is when you put something down and you move it all around. Or something like that.
 Once all of the pieces were complete, we were ready to assemble our clocks. We began by cutting the top of our weaving so it would resemble a house and glued it to the center of our printed paper. From there, we added our roof, a door for our birds and our clocks. The kids had a lot of fun coming up with what their version of a cuckoo bird would look like. Some added a feather for the tale. All of them zigzag folded a piece of paper that served as their pop out.
 After that, a symmetrically cut piece of paper (which we called the "bottom decoration") and a bottom ledge was added. Some kids were inspired by the cuckoo clock visuals I had hanging up to create a little Black Forest scene to the bottom ledge.
I love the flapping wings and the wonky pine cones.
 For our final step of adding the pine cones, I brought in some pine cones from my yard. I placed several on the tables to inspire the kids. These were attached by a couple of strings and, viola! our Cuckoo Clocks were complete. 

The kids were so thrilled by the end result that several asked if we were now going to create real clocks. You know, like with whittled birds and working clock mechanisms. Yeah, um, no. I do believe I'm cuckoo'ed out.

 And now I believe Ima go and catch up on some much needed sleep. Until next time, enjoy the rest of your week!


  1. Absolutely enchanting! Each of them has such character and charm. Rest easy, Teacher, job extremely well done.

  2. These are just great. I love the combination of all the processes in the final result.

  3. Love these!!!!!! Pinning away for future projects!!!!! :)

  4. Excellent work there little people, I applaud you! :) I like the way you get them to build the picture rather than just go adead and draw it, they will learn so much more this way. I need (no, its not a want, its deffo a need) a cuckoo clock for my new house, as they are way to pricy, maybe I shall just create one this way! I already plan on hanging my 'art work' on the fridge so I feel it would just fit in nicely. Guess what I did today?? Bought a cardigan. Why is that special I hear you say? Well Cassie, its special because I am to attempt my first proper go at felting! Yep! I'm diving in! :) See this long comment? This is your own fault, I tried to rain it in and you were all 'I love long comments' therefore you only have yourself to blame!! ;)

    Take care! :)

    Jerra xx

  5. love it. i'll definitely use this project this year. thanks.

  6. These are AWESOME!!!

  7. I love this project and would really like to attempt it with the 75 kindergartners that I do my Globalgarten program with! I teach cultural diversity through art, literature and play in a weekly rotation. I was hoping you could give me more details about the process, specifically the wood grain paper and the cardboard prints. Maybe you would even offer a way to simplify it for kindergartners. I have a little girl starting my class tomorrow who is moving here from Germany so I thought it would be fun to make her feel more comfortable. So..... I really want to start it this Friday! Hope to hear from you ASAP! Thanks:)

    1. Hey Dede! Let me see if I can answer your questions:

      on the first day, I gave the kids 2 6" X 9" sheets of brown paper. They painted them brown and scraped them with paint scrappers. If you don't have paint scrappers, cut some cardboard to a credit card size and cut notches in it so it looks like a comb. Or have the kids use some Dollar Store combs to scrape the paint.

      Next day, weave. Go here for a paper weaving lesson:

      From there, begin constructing the clock. I think this post tells you how.

      for the background, we used small pieces of cardboard and printed as you see in the photos above.

      I hope that helps!


  8. I'm the Editor of Fun Family Crafts and I absolutely love this and many of your other projects! I'd love for you to submit your tutorials so we can feature them. Please contact me at if you have any questions.


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