Showing posts with label clay lessons for kids. Show all posts
Showing posts with label clay lessons for kids. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

In the Art Room: Ceramic Chinese Dragons with Third Grade

 Well, kids, it happened. I got That Note in the mail. You know, the one with the return address from your school.  In the middle of summer that could only mean one of two thangs: it's yer walkin' papers or, worse, a note containing a  listing of "Back to Cruel, er, School" meetings. That's right. Tuesday, July 9th marks the beginning of the end of my summer. Cue loud and obnoxious horror film-esque scream...
Make no mistake, this has left me in a rather fire-breathingly fowl mood. So what better time to share with ya these here Ceramic Chinese Dragons by my Amazingly Awesome Third Grade Artists!
 Since I've been spending my blogging time sharing travel pics and rando Pee-Wee packed posts, I've fallen a pinch behind on my In the Art Room adventures. My apologies. So whatcha see here is a project that I think my third graders would agree was one of their faves. Now, for those of you out there that are kilnless, hang with me as Ima gonna show you how you can create a Chinese dragon with a ceramic clay-ternative. But before we get into all that, lemme tell you how this all came about.
 Because we were learning about all-things-Asian last school year, I settled on the idea of having the kids create Chinese dragons. After a quick search on the interwebs, I found this post by my art teachin' buddy Rina over at K-6 Art. I loved her lesson as she broke it down into baby steps that were just perfect. Now she did her dragons with the younger set (first grade, people and they rocked it!). Since I was doing this with third grade, I knew I'd have to get 'em to step up their dragon makin' game. But first, a lil dragon-y background, emrkay?
Not all dragons are alike, y'all (Y'ALL!! This is off-topic but what else is new: I was recently BUSTED as a Mid-Westerner wearing Southern's clothing {which would be overalls and Crocs, in case you were wondering}. It turns out I've been conjugating "y'all" all wrong! Thank you, kind commenter, for pointing out my Big Fat Hairy Southern Poser mistake. Hopefully my Southern license won't be revoked {penalties include grits restriction and consumption of unsweetened tea}).

WAAAAAAAIT, what were we talking about? Oh, yeah. Dragons. Let's address the Chinese ones first, shall we? They're kinda like Mid-Westerners, after all. They've got a snake-like body with feet like that of an eagle. Which doesn't really make them Mid-Western-esque at all but their affinity for Pabst Blue Ribbon and corn hole does (can somebody please explain that fascination to me?!). Also, they can fly but don't have wings. And they like their possessions deep-fried as is evidenced by the fried pearl (the Chinese dragons are often seen with a pearl which is believed to be their source of power).
 My students were pretty unfamiliar with the characteristics of the Chinese dragon because they're usta seeing this European/Fairy Tale number. The Euro-dragon is much lie a Southerner in that when it says "Bless your heart" it really means "I hate you and wanna breathe fire down your neck". Also, when it's not flying with it's wings, this dragon can be seen wearing copious amounts of seersucker. And loafers without socks. And shirts with GIANT Polo logos. Ahem.
 After that brief chat with the kids, we spent three / thirty-minute art classes crafting these bad boys. On our first day, we began by creating a base for our dragon. For that we pounded our clay onto a texture and into a slab as thick as a cookie. Check out this post to see what I'm talking about. After our texture was in the clay, we cut the clay out with our wood skewers into a choice of base shapes: round, square or flower-like (which was later folded up to create water-y like waves).

With the excess clay cut off from the creation of the base, the kids rolled a thick coil that was about 5" in length. Once that was complete, we draped the base and coil in a damp paper towel, gently placed it into a zip lock bag and wrapped it up until our next 30 minute class.

The following class I gave the kids a rough and rapid idea on how to create their head (see below in just a momento). I don't like to get too detailed because I want them to come up with ideas of their own. I also had loads of Chinese dragon pics available for them to draw ideas from if needed. At the end of that 30, we didn't attach the heads (I had visions of them falling off whilst sealed in the damp bag) but placed them on the base with the coil.

On their third and final day, heads were attached and an environment for the dragon was created. If details like spikes, limbs, horns, fire, you-name-it's were desired, the kids added 'em then. After drying out and being fired (kinda sounds like I'm talking about Lindsay Lohan, donnit?!), the kids spent a coupla days glazing with Mayco's Stroke and Coat. And, viola-ness! Ceramic Chinese Dragons, y'all!

 Now, let's address the kiln less folks in the group, shall we? A similar dragon can be created with one of my fave kiln-free clays: Scupley. Almost every year, my students engage in a Sculpey bead-making project and almost every year, this is all that's left. Lots and lots of white.
 No worries! You can create any color of clay using that white stuff as your base. Case in point, a dragon's head. Just roll the desired shape in white, flatten your color to a paper-thickness, wrap it around your shape and roll smooth.

 Which might look a lil like the left. If you have white spots, fill 'em with some Scupley Band-Aids and roll again.

Now, these are the same rough and rapid directions I have the kids when they were creating their dragon's face. Use that skewer to skewer a mouth. It kinda mashes the shape a bit so you'll have to resculpt that face. But you can do it. 
 I like to use my fingers to create the indentions of eye sockets. Now roll some small spheres (because we don't say "balls" in the art room, ahem) and place them in the sockets. Remember if you are working with ceramic clay, you gotta slip and score. She slips! She scores!
 It's all about the details, y'all. Add some teeth, fire coming outta the mouth, a tongue (although preferably not all three as that's a mouthful. Literally.)
 I created a coil body in the same white-covered-in-green way as the head. Although this time I used two kinds of green and left some of the white areas alone. I was kinda digging the camo look.
 I know, right?
 Attach that head to the coil and shape. Bake in your oven at 275 (I think, check directions. I burn everything on a regular basis so my clay-cooking advice might not be the best) for abouts 15 minutes. And your finished!
 Suriously, yous guise, the kids were so thrilled with their dragons.
 I love watching the kids work with clay. It's a medium that kids who aren't fascinated with 2-dimensional art can really bloom. I mean, this artist was so into his dragon-making, he even created a baby dragon!
 You'll notice that most of the kids included a pearl...and many of them had a story to go along with their dragon. I love the detail in the face on this orange guy.
 And there you have it, y'all! Chinese dragons by the third grade set! Have y'all ever done a project like this before? If so, I'd love to hear what your students created. Special thanks to Rina for the inspirational-lesson!

Chat at Y'ALL soonish!

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Monday, June 3, 2013

In the Art Room: Pinch Pot Pets Take 2

Sometimes giving the kids the choice of every color glaze in the rainbow can be a dangerous thing. But I happen to think this turquoise with white spots pup is just the cutest.
If you are a teacher, then you are currently in one of two places: Summer Vacation Bliss or On the Verge of Summer Vacation Madness. I'm the former but I can totally empathize with all ya'll in the latter. The last week of school followed our school-wide art show which left my art room as cleared out and empty as my brain. But have no fear, all you O.V.S.V.M. folk! The end will come (of the school year, not the end of time. I'm an art teacher not an evangelist) and soon you'll be like me: feet up, taking in the sunshine with a nice tall (well, perhaps a splash of tea along with some other happiness-inducing ingredients) and frantically brainstorming lesson plans and thematic ideas for next year. Ah, the joys of being a teacher. Which sometimes feels like that unwanted gift that keeps on giving. Like a Chia Pet. Or crabs. 

(Did I really just liken my job to an STD? I believe I did.)

Don't get me wrong: if I didn't love what I do, I wouldn't spend so much time plotting and planning. Which brings me to this lesson. I started the planning stages of this project about this time last year. If you've read my recent art project posts (you haven't?! What's wrong with you, you got a life or something? No you don't, go read here and here.) then you know our purpose behind these animal sculptures: to raise money for a local humane society. Each grade level sculpted a dog or cat sculpture (check out my kindergartener's work and my fourth grader's masterpieces) with these being the ones my awesome second graders created.
The problem with projectile whiskers is sometimes they break. I still love this green-eyed spotted kitty just the same.
Because I'm missing school just a pinch (yeah, I do believe there was a little too much happiness in that last cup as well), let me geek out on you and break this lesson down with some good ole bullet points: 
  • On our first day, the kids were given a piece of clay the size of an orange. They twisted this piece in half and created a pinch pot with each piece. 
  • To connect the pots and create a sphere, each kid was given a small piece of newspaper (pages from the phone book work great...why am I still getting those, btw?). This was crumpled up and placed inside the pinch pots to prevent them from flattening. In the past, we've rolled up small spheres of clay and placed those in the newspaper before sealing it inside. When the newspaper burns, those little clay beads create a rattle inside of your piece.
  • After the newspaper was placed inside the two pots, the sphere was complete. To reinforce the seam where the two pots came together, the kids rolled a coil of clay and placed it over the seam. This was flattened and smoothed. I know what you're thinking, "An enclosed piece of clay is going to explode in the kiln!" Dude, relax, I got this. Holes were pierced into the sphere at a later stage.
  • Because my classes are a half and hour long, it was at this point that the kids wrapped their spheres in a wet paper towel and sealed them inside their labeled ziplock bag.
  • On the following day, the kids rolled out and attached four thick and short coils of clay for legs. To prevent the legs from falling off once attached, we bent the end of each leg at the top. This created a larger flat surface for the leg to attach to the bottom of the sphere. Of course, we tooth brushed the bottom of the sphere and the tops of the legs before attaching.
  • The kids were given some ideas on how to create a face for their pet. Then they came up with a billion much better ideas. Which is how is always goes, isn't it? I cannot keep up with their superior imaginations.
Best. Ears. Ever.
  • Now, I gotta tell you two quandaries I found myself in with this here project: One was finding a place to write the student's names. Ultimately most ended up being emblazoned on the tooshie. And the other quandary was that we did have a couple explosions in the kiln. Because all of the pieces were given a "belly button" (a small hole with a skewer stick in the bottom of the piece) I can only imagine that the explosions were caused by the thickness of the clay. The two kids handled it quite well, knowing that they'd be able to create a new piece. Apparently, it's very cool in secondgradeland to be able to tell your buddies "my dog blew up the kiln". 
  • Once the pieces were returned to the kids, we set to glazing. I love Mayco's Stroke and Coat as do the kids. We chatted about the patterns that might appear on dogs and cats, real or imaginary. 
And there you have it! I've still no idea just what we'll be up to this summer...but I've got a couple crazy ideas rolling around. Until next time, have a great Monday!
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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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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

In the Artroom: Monet's Waterlilies

Me: You painted both snails the same didn't want to use variety? Student: Well, it's a Mama Snail and a Baby Snail. No one will know that if they are different colors. Me: (mental head slap) You are a genius.
This week back to school has been so exciting! Everyday, I walk into my room, open the kiln and gasp at the awesome creations of my students. This week we've been glazing the clay projects completed before spring break and the students have been totally rockin' it. I thought I'd share with you this kid-approved lesson.
I was told that the Tooth Fairy likes to chill in Monet's Garden on her off nights.
We've been learning all about the artist Claude Monet and just finished completing our Mammoth Monet Mural before break. During that unit of study we also chatted extensively about ponds and waterlilies. The kids were thrilled when told they were going to create a clay waterlily of their own.
I shared the photos of Monet's Garden with the kids that I snapped while at the Moma in March. The best question yet, "Where did his mom get paper that was so big?"
A lovely lily close up.
Pac Man vs. Sponge Bob's Buddy Patrick.
 For this project, you'll need the flowing:
  • An Army of Amazing Moms
  • Tons of clay
  • A class set of clay mats
  • Skewers
  • Waterlily and Lily Pad templates
  • Mayco Wonderglaze
  • Toothbrushes
  • Cups of water
Okay, about that first thing on your list, I'm serious about that one. Let me tell you why: I have 1/2 hour art classes. Many teachers wouldn't even attempt this kind of crazy with such short classes. But with an Army of Amazing Moms, anything is possible. Now, I have The Best Moms in my room, but I'm sure you've got some pretty fabulous ones in your school just dying to help out. All you have to do is ask, it's really that simple.

This lesson is a version of one originally created by one of the most incredible art teachers I know, The Clay Lady. Not familiar with her? Watch her demos on youtube, she rocks.
 To create the waterlilies, the kids need to do the following:
  1. Pound out clay to Oreo thickness and trace a waterlily and lily pad as seen in top clay photo.
  2. Bend two points of the star upward (as shown above), over lap and smoosh clay together.
  3. Continue bending points of star upward, overlapping and smooshing until entire lily is complete. It should look like a closed flower.
  4. Use fingertips to gently bend flower pedals outward.
  5. Toothbrush the bottom of the lily and a place on the lily pad and attach.
This artist used the back of her brush to create "perfect dots" and stripes on her bumble bee.
After that, I explained to the kids that they could add one or two creations to their lily of their liking. I did a little snail and insect demo but they had much bigger ideas. "How do you make a hummingbird? The Toothfairy? A Tarantula?"
A frog chillin' at his pad.
I told them this...anything can be created out of clay with three things: a sphere, a slab and a coil. So, stop and think about what you want to create and decide which of those three things would be the best for the job. And, just look at this variety! They got it.
I was told that this is a one-eyed version of Sponge Bob's buddy Gary. Meow.
Now let's chat about glazing. This Stoke and Coat glaze by Mayco is where it's at. The colors are vibrant and the consistency is very fluid. I dole out the glaze in styrofoam egg cartons along with cups of water for brush cleaning.
A first grader created this hummingbird. I know, right?
 Before glazing, we have a nice loooong chat about my two rules:
  1. Do not glaze the bottom (it'll stick to the kiln).
  2. Do not layer different glaze colors.
Another hummingbird.
Because of the countless choices of colors, some kids go a little bonkers and just want to glaze their project to death. I give them free reign to add patterns like dots and stripes but I stick hard and fast to that no-overlapping-twenty-colors-on-your-piece rule.
And the end result? Nothing short of adorable, says me. And my new friend, Happy Buggy-Eyed Snail.

Thanks for dropping by!
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