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Art teachers were STEAM-ing before STEAM was cool!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Story-Telling Animal Pelts

For week three of my Tribal Art of North America after school art class, I thought we'd do a project I saw over at Sleepyhead Design Studio. This is similar to my cave painting project, but easier to do with a larger group (no lacing the piece to a twig frame) and A LOT LESS MESSY! Yee haw!



We followed Sleepyhead's project instructions and prepped our pelts (crumpling and rubbing the paper bag to create a fuzzy, wrinkled texture) and then the children used Sharpies to cover the pelts with symbols (I had printed out some symbol sheets for them to refer to). They were encouraged to create their own symbols, too--I just had them add their symbols to the sheet and label their symbols with the meaning.

When doing a test run at home, my children just placed random symbols all over their pelts, but my students chose to use the symbols to tell a story or talk about the things they like (animals, nature, nice weather, etc.). If I were to create one of these, I think I would talk about when my family and I went camping this summer since many of the symbols on the "Picture Dictionary" sheet could be transferred to a story of a camping trip.

Once the children were done creating the symbols on their pelts, I had them use acrylic craft paints and tiny paintbrushes to add color to their pieces. We used a limited color palette: black, brown, ochre, white and turquoise. My art students argued that green and red could also be made from natural ingredients, so I let them have those too. Sleepyhead used oil pastels to add color in her project--that works well, too (I tried both in my samples). Then we mounted the pelts to a 12" x 18" piece of construction paper using a few staples (probably not authentic) and glued the "Picture Dictionary" page of symbols onto the back of the piece using a glue stick. This way, the children wouldn't have to worry if they forgot the meaning for some of the symbols.

I did this project with children in Kindergarten through grade 4 and they all enjoyed it. It's a keeper!

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