Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I'm back! with a bug lesson

Ok I'm back in my classroom in two weeks and have our first lesson of the new term ready to go. I always like starting the term with a lesson that requires very few materials and let's me assess student's ability to follow multi-step directions. We had a lot of success with our pattern letters at the start of the year and my sub did a great job repeating the lesson while I was on leave. But it's a new year and time for a new first lesson.

This lesson comes from Monument Valley Regional Middle School...a blog I have been following a while that has great photos of middle school lessons. I have seen her post images of this lesson several times but she doesn't give directions on her blog so I had to break it down for myself. Out of respect for the owner of the original lesson I am not going to post the steps here. I will put a link to the google doc that has my step by step directions and pictures when I post student samples.

But here is my sample:
looks like blogger is rotating images today
I think this is a fun way to think about positive/negative space and use those problem solving skills. I predict this lesson will take 5-7 class sessions if done well. For my class that meets every day I want to extend this lesson a bit further and got to thinking how we could add a 3-D element. I decided this would be a good time to use the box of polymer clay that was left by the last art teacher.
Each student will need to make a copy of their insect in polymer clay and then they have two choices. They can either use their black and white design on it and then "hide" it their 2-D work. OR
They can use color to decorate their insect and make a paper origami box to put the insect in like a collectors specimen and display the clay insect alongside the 2-D artwork. I need to get little pins to put through the clay before we bake it so it looks like we have pinned the insect into the specimen box and a little label with the name of the insect.

How we will make the clay insect:
Here is my template for the 2-D lesson. We will use it for the clay insect (ignore the triangle)

trace around the insect template onto a square of wax or parchment paper

now using polymer clay (I really like Bake Shop by Sculpty ...its less expensive, is soft and doesn't crumble) start building your insect by adding clay inside the template shape. Smooth the pieces add you add them together.

keep building till you have your completed insect. Originally I carved the design into the soft clay
but this ended up being a BAD idea. Just leave the insect blank and smooth. Have the kids put their name on the parchment or wax paper and pop the whole thing in the oven to bake.
When I carved the design into the clay it was way to hard to color/paint it after baking.
Here is my version colored with sharpie
blogger arrgggg!!!!
and the clay insect "hidden" in the 2-D artwork

ok and now the color version:
a new smooth version
draw your design with sharpie and start to paint
and outlined with sharpie when to make the box to put the little bug in and decided if some puffy paint is called for. I look forward to seeing what the students do with this lesson. More to come later.


  1. I love the look of this one. I think I would be able to adapt it to use with preschoolers, especially putting the clay on an outline. Lovely!

  2. Please post student work ... and that google doc! :) thanks!

  3. I hate to say it but we ended up NOT doing this lesson this term but instead making cubist inspired insects :( We will be doing it in three weeks though so keep checking back