Sunday, August 17, 2014

Take flight with paper mâche

 This lesson does not have to have a "winter" theme-- in fact, because of holidays, and our crazy 6 day cycle schedule (I see a class once every 6 days), the lesson stretched out so far that I extended spring birds into the mix as well! 

Be prepared for an in-depth process for this one, but also a very rewarding project. How amazing is it, to be able to create something in three-dimension from scratch! 

Below are my exemplars that I created, so the students could see how it is possible to replicate the shapes of various species with just cardboard, newspaper and masking tape.  On the photo to the left, you will see my 4th grade section of the SLO board in my room, which has examples and essential questions that we talked about to springboard into the project. 

Students began by sketching out a bird, looking at a reference photo, breaking the bird down into basic geometric shapes to better understand the form. 
A challenge for the students: BALANCE. Can your bird stand on its own? Where should you put the legs so that the head and tail are balanced?
Funny little penguin
Paper mache was a love-hate thing for the students. Some kids loved the hands-on, messy process. Some were weirded out by the "pancake batter" texture. 
Once the sculpting process was done, students painted their birds. I believe in as much choice-based art education as possible-- so with this lesson, they were given guidelines on how to build their birds and create physical balance, and I demonstrated very briefly mixing paints and choosing the right brush--but the students painted the birds how they wanted. Most went for the more realistic look, but some went crazy with color! 

A silver swan, created by one of my ELL students
...And then came the art show. With somewhere around 200 4th graders... how to display the birds?! We set up tables along the hallway, and I had students in the weeks preceding create "environments" for the birds.

Geese, Swans, Ring-necked pheasants, French Hens, Oh My!
Some students who finished early created other things-- like this basket of fruit! The little robin on top sure likes it:)
A flock of blackbirds

Overall, it was a successful lesson. I hope students will have their birds perched on a shelf somewhere for years to come.