Magazine article School Arts

Fire Breathing Dragons

Magazine article School Arts

Fire Breathing Dragons

Article excerpt

What seventh grader hasn't wondered if dragons or other mythical creatures once roamed the deep, dark forests?

The creation of clay dragons seemed a perfect way to round out the learning activities in our unit on medieval English castles. I wanted to give my students the chance to explore their creativity while furthering their knowledge of clay construction and design fundamentals.

After viewing pictures and slides of dragons depicted in paintings, tapestries, and sculptures throughout history we began to brainstorm. Did we want our dragons to be fierce or gentle, comic or realistic, or just plain out of this world? Our first step was to do a preliminary sketch of the dragons. During discussion and observation of the sketches we looked at the importance of texture in clay sculpture.

Before my students began working I gave a demonstration of clay procedure and a review of slab, coil, and pinch clay methods. I went over the proper way to attach clay pieces to one another and how to avoid air bubbles during construction.

Shaping the Dragons in Clay

Production of the clay dragons began. Each student started with a medium-sized block of clay and worked at their own pace. As the sculptures began to take shape I showed my students the proper way to keep their clay moist using wet paper towels and plastic bags to cover their dragons for overnight storage.

After the basic shape was completed I encouraged my students to look at their surface texture and detail. This was an area that really demonstrated different ability levels. The spiral effect is evident in the sense that students could take the basic shape and make it as detailed or simple as they wanted.

Students continued to sculpt each day. I made sure extra clay, tools, and construction materials were always available to them. When all the pieces were completed they were set outside on the art patio to dry. …

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