This project was inspired by the work of Georgia based artist Karen Fincannon. She appears often at art festivals down here in the south and I am drawn to her use of texture, color and whimsy. I knew my 2nd graders would pick up on these features to create playful ceramic slab fish.
We began by reading one of my all-time-favorite stories The Rainbow Fish.
The message of this story is great — it promotes sharing and friendship and all of that wonderful stuff along with sparkly shiny illustrations. Students sketched out their fish designs:
Day one was spent rolling out slabs and adding texture using texture mats, shells, marker caps, and all sorts of other bits and bobs that have been collected for textural purposes. During day two, students used pinch and coil methods to add a mouth, eyes, fins, and any imaginative decorations they could come up with.
After the bisque firing, 2nd graders spent a day glazing their fish. After many many years of teaching kids to glaze, I have found that the best method is to set out a different color on each table and have the kids move around to paint their objects. The system works really well: I set out 2 jars of each color and 4 paintbrushes at each table. Students can move around as long as there is an open space at the table. The movement makes kids take their time more and is a great method of differentiation. 🙂
The finished results are spectacular. I absolutely LOVE these fish and have a feeling they will make great holiday gifts for the parents of some very talented artists.