Saturday, January 5, 2013

Let the Clay Projects Begin!

We've been back to school for three days and they have been so hectic!   Setting up to begin clay work takes a tremendous amount of prep time but I am finally ready to go.   Fourth and Fifth grades have begun to sketch their project ideas and break down their work into the shapes they will need to construct their clay projects.   Third graders are creating with slabs in a variety of ways.  In one school we are making big mouth fish that will demonstrate the food chain.   In the other school we are talking about Adobe houses. After our research, we will create the walls of our houses and begin construction next week.  Our second grade unit will focus on owls and will incorporate the use of pinch pots to create owls.  We reviewed visuals of the different types of owls this week and began pinch pots for the body.  First grade students listened to the story of "Dave the Potter" by Laban Carrick Hill.   Here is a website about Dave.  They also learned the history of Southern Ugly Jugs.   They will use pinch pots and coils to create a personal ugly cup.  Kinders are experiencing clay for the first time through pinching, coiling and compressing clay.   Here are photos of a few of their beginning pinch pot.  Very good for a first experience!  I especially was impressed by the one in the left photo, bottom right.

Wrapping up the clay for week to week storage

Holding the clay from week to week is most definitely the most challenging step in working with clay in elementary school.   Wrapping the clay to keep the moisture in must be efficient or a student's piece will be dry by week two.   I'm planning to create a step-by-step poster for my students to remind them of the process for wrapping and will post it here when completed.   We wrap in plastic bags, making sure to remove as much air as possible, twist the top of the bag closed and secure with a clothes pin.  The pins are labeled with the student's name, grade and day of the week they are in art class.  Here is a photo of my storage method, my interpretation of a holding box.  It works fairly well.

My Elmo Set-up
I recycled an old projector cart that was ready for the trash heap

I am also enjoying the availability of my Elmo Document Camera this year.   I purchased it last Spring after the clay unit so this is my first opportunity to demonstate with the camera.  I am already seeing students exhibiting a better understanding of processes due to the increase visability of demonstrations.  I purchased my unit myself and naturally could not invest in two units so I only have Elmo in one school.   I feel like an on-going test study of the effectiveness of the camera and without the camera by comparing the successes of the two schools where I work.   Elmo definitely increases my effectiveness. 

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