Thursday, June 2, 2016

Medieval Arts: Gargoyles and Salt Cellars, 3rd and 4th Grade

Also known as "The Art that Didn't Make the Hall Display...Because We Ran Out of Time."

These ceramics are impressive, BUT since my previous supplier retired, I am now using a different brand of clay with a MUCH longer drying time.  After the first (almost) disastrous firing, I give it a good two weeks to dry instead of my standard one week wait, and this greatly affected finishing times for our ceramics this semester.  Therefore, this is why this awesome work was quickly photographed and sent home...the last week (or day!) of school.

To tie in with third grade's Rouault based portraiture (who was inspired by stained glass), the kiddos watched a short video about the Cathedral of Notre Dame while I hurriedly passed out clay to each of them.  Once the video was complete, there was a quick discussion about the gargoyles-what they are, why they are called gargoyles, and how they're posed (we were in a hurry for the above reasons AND most of my classes had 1 or 2 classes to get the gargoyle made from start-to-finish...with only 40 minutes per class including a 10 minute clean up).  In order for the kids to build while I was building and not waste any precious time, I made a video so they could follow along.  Keep in mind, they were all heavily encouraged to NOT copy my gargoyle.

The tongue hanging out was pretty popular, and there were some that took it to the next level-trying to lick an eyeball, hanging out the side of the gargoyle's mouth, or two tongues in one mouth.  A few added arms or wings, and several made mustaches, horns, and very pointy teeth.  Since the gargoyles on the church are plain ol' stone, we left ours white to mimic that look.  This is another Artsonia featured project, so click on the link to see them all!

4th grade also had a done-at-the-last-minute ceramics project in the form of salt cellars.  Once upon a time, salt, among other spices, wasn't as commonplace as it is today.  Those that had it made a point to display it prominently in their home in the form of a metal, or sometimes porcelain, box called a salt cellar.  Our modern day salt cellars will probably end up holding change, hair clips, or ear buds, but they will still be on display somewhere in the kids homes across the county.

They started by pounding their chunk of clay into the desired shape, then yours truly got to slice'n'dice their lid (clay wire required=teacher 's duty).  After carving out the inside and smoothing it out, they used the leftovers to make legs for the box, a knob, and any other decorations their little hearts desired.  Since the fanciness of the box determined social status, most did a nice job of adding a lot of detail all the way around with both additive and subtractive decorations.

We ended up with everything from a standard decorative box to elephants, cows, and puppies (each is above, if you can find them).  The kids painted them with gold or silver to create a faux metal look, which they love, and they were all sent home the very last week of school.  48 of them had to go home on the last day, and I hope they made the journey in one piece!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Medieval Arts: Viking Pendants and European Coat of Arms, 5th grade and 2nd grade

Well, I couldn't teach all about the middle ages without at least one grade learning about Vikings.  Pre-assessment for this one was pretty entertaining...ask 5th graders what they know about Vikings, and answers range from How to Train Your Dragon-type information to "they wear braided pigtails and sing opera."  No joke. make sure they learned something real about the Vikings, we opened with watching a very informative video that hopefully corrected their incorrect knowledge.

Vikings were best known for their metalwork (after raiding/pillaging, of course), so we used tooling foil to create Viking pendants.  Most pendants bore sea serpent/dragon designs and were twisted similarly to Celtic knotwork, so that served as our base design.  After creating the knot,  a serpent/dragon head or two (or three or four) was added, and the kids also used Viking runes to make it more authentic-looking.  This was one of our featured Artsonia projects, so ALL pendants from both schools are available for online viewing, including the pendants below!

Second grade still needed to learn weaving (and the time it was-a-waning) so I decided to combine a European coat of arms with weaving.  We discussed the differences between a coat of arms and shields as they look very similar, and created our own from construction paper.  A coat of arms (also known as heraldic crest) shows symbols that represent someone's good family name, and is typically made of cloth.  A shield can display a coat of arms (so as to know who's who in battle), but is obviously made of stronger materials.  Each student was to choose an animal or simple symbol to represent their family and place that silhouette in the center.


Since it was the end of the year, this was a grade-it-and-take-it assignment; I was only able to snag a few for pictures before they all marched out my door forever.  Even though they were meant to be a coat-of-arms, there were quite a few that used leftover strips to make some very creative handles on the back.

Medieval Arts: St. George and the Dragon and Castle Design, 1st and 4th Grade

So, you've seen knights, kings, and queens, and  a few castles.  Where's the medieval drama?   The folklore that's been around for nearly 1000 years?  It's HERE!

First and 4th grade earned the task of making 2D castles for our medieval arts unit, and they didn't disappoint in the drama department.  First grade looked at Bodiam Castle (same as our Kindergarten friends) and discussed why it was a successful design, then watched a video featuring famous castles of Europe before making our own symmetrical castles.   After that, they learned how to add the faux stone look to their paper (thank you, square sponges), and we glued them to a very chalky background.  After our chalk day, there were several kiddos who left with multi-colored hair/faces/bodies...paint shirts can only do so much.  I tried.

Just a castle on a background is BORING, so we added some oil pastel details to liven it up, and this is where it gets fun.  Some added knights and archers to the tops of the castle, some had pretty princesses in need, one had a carrot garden surrounding the castle, and I believe one student added some form of satellite TV to his castle (not medieval, but funny).  Here are some of my favorites from the fantastic grade 1 kids.

4th grade also worked on castles, but with a different approach.  After watching a so-cheesy-it's-hilarious video of the legend of St. George and the Dragon, we looked at SEVERAL versions of said tale and discussed similarities and differences.  Hmm...there's always George, a horse, a princess in need, a castle, and a dragon.  The sizes of the objects varied A LOT between the images (c'mon...the horse was twice as big as the dragon in some).  The kids learned that this means that St. George is a pictorial, or a painting that tells a story.  The basic story was always the same; it was the artist's depiction that was different.  Enter 125 kids painting their own version of St. George...and things got interesting.

The trend was for the boys to see how many things in their picture could be smoldering/on fire at once, but I do like the image with George attacking the dragon while standing on the running horse...backwards!