I absolutely LOVED this project and really wanted to share it with you so you can try it sometime before the year ends. It takes a while but you won’t regret it. Besides, I am all for kids working on long projects. It’s therapeutic, and hard work and patience pays off rather than instant gratification these kids are so used to.
Clay is magical and everyone loves playing with it, no matter what age. This project was planned along with the social studies teacher. Art is so versatile and can and should be combined and integrated with all the other core subjects. it just makes the learning experience so much better and richer. We are so lucky, don’t you agree lovely art teachers?
Anyway, in social studies, the grade 7 class was learning about symbols and the importance of family and clans so I decided to help out by having my students create their own clans with 5-7 members in a circle. Many cultures have done this with clay and I thought it would be a great way for the students to learn this and create their own. Since we hadn’t done much with clay at this point, the timing was perfect.
How to combine a topic about clans, family/groups, symbols and clay? We talked about what a clan was and the importance of family and friends. After defining what a symbol was, it’s importance, how symbols help us and have helped us throughout history, we brainstormed symbols that could represent family members and ourselves. I showed them images of totem poles because this was the same idea except in a vertical way.
Next, the students were asked to make a list of 5-7 people who had the most influence in their lives. They could be friends, family members or even famous people. They had to assign a symbol that represented that person such as a book because that person loved to read, a guitar because they loved music, etc.
By now everyone was ready to start working with clay. After a quick reminder about how to handle clay, create a slab, scoring and using slip, the students began to create their circle slab piece for the base where their clan members would be standing. My requirements for this part of the project were the following:
1. Create a circle slab because the circle would symbolize the never ending relationships and influences between members of each clan.
2. Each member had to be connected to the other member in some way.
3. The symbol that represented the clan member had to be attached somewhere on it’s body in a visible way that we could all clearly see the symbol. Oh, and everyone had to work with a big happy smile because life is much better when we are happier! 🙂
One student suggested we create a small container in the center for a candle and we all agreed it was a lovely idea. After rolling out the circle slab, they made a pinch pot container for the middle of the circle to help judge how much space was needed for the members.
The rest was straightforward however, living in a very hot climate, we had trouble keeping the pieces from drying up even though they were sealed in black bags. Luckily there were no major problems.
After they clay clans were fired, and due to lack of time, they were painted with several layers of watercolor paint. I was a little worried how this would look especially since glazes make everything so glossy and nice, but this method was perfect and gave it a homey rustic look.
How gorgeous are these?
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