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My friend and fellow art teacher, Joanna, came up with this lesson last year, and I decided to try it out this year.  I created the worksheet (attached below) but it might not be exactly what she had in mind… regardless, this is an interesting cross-curricular lesson.

Students use their prior knowledge of Greek mythology to create their own invented god or goddess.  As a refresher, I made a powerpoint based on the information I found on www.mythweb.com that was my intro to the lesson.

The Olympians

After discussing the power point and allowing students to add to the information I present their own retained information, I introduced the worksheet.  It’s pretty self-explanatory:

(I apologize for these worksheet files not being more printer and edit-friendly, but wordpress would not let me upload my original publisher files.)

Students will then create their invented god or goddess as a clay sculpture.  You will need:

1 box of clay per class

Enough empty yarn cones for each student (a class set is sufficient)

Popsicle sticks, stylus tools, and other clay tools

Whatever sort of placemat you use under your clay for each student (I use the discarded ends from the laminator)

Slab templates for each student (class set)

I cut a slab off the block of clay about 1/2″ thick for each student, then instruct them to use the heel of their palm to flatten it into the appropriate shape for the template.  (I do not have a slab roller, which would make this step unnecessary.)  Students then use the popsicle stick to cut out the shape of the template from their clay, then wrapping the cut slab around the yarn cone, scoring, and welding to make a clay cone over the yarn cone armature.  (I had issues with my cones getting stuck inside the clay sculptures, which I got around by wrapping each cone in one of those fairly useless brown paper towels, taping it so it stayed on the cone.  When you go to remove the cone at the end of class, the paper towel might come off inside the sculpture, but at lease the cone is easily removed!) 

Students then use the scraps from their slab to create a golf ball-sized head, which they score and weld to the top of the clay cone.  This becomes the head and body for their god or goddess.  (Since it is shaped like a cone, the character must be wearing a toga, robe, or cape.  I plan to experiment with slicing down the center to make legs, but we’ll see.)  I allow students to use clay texture mats at this point to give the clothing a design that goes along with their character.  After that, students score and weld arms, hair, accessories, etc and sculpt faces and other traits onto the sculpture.  The entire process will probably take 2-3 classes, so at the end of class I draped each sculpture with a wet paper towel, put them on my clay cart, and put a trash bag over the entire class’ sculptures. 

My students are still at the mid-way point on their clay projects, but here is the sample or prototype that Joanna made:

 

Joanna’s sculpture depicts her invented goddess of art: she carries a roll of parchment, has a blank face to allude to the blank canvas that the artist faces, and has an eye on the top of her head to symbolize visual art.  She required her students to similarly create 3 attributes on their sculpture that described the characteristics of their invented god or goddess.

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