Clay Coral Reefs

I promised I would return with our 3rd and 4th grade coral reefs!
I first saw this idea over at K-6 Art and fell.in.love!
There's something about the ocean that simply seems to captivate children.
This was such a fun project- for all of us!
 
We spent a whole class just looking at different pictures and talking about the creatures that live in and around reefs. This was a perfect opportunity to discuss and clarify misconceptions about the ocean floor! So many kids wanted to add whales and dolphins to their projects so I'd highly recommend you discuss what does and doesn't actually live in or on a reef.
 
Here's a few inspirational pictures I took during my last visit to the aquarium.
This helped the kids visualize and focus their ideas.
We talked a lot about form, space and balance before getting our hands dirty.
The kids had a blast experimenting with different ways to create their coral pieces.
 
Here's how we did it.
We began by breaking the sphere into two fairly equal pieces.
With one half, they made basic pinch pots- turned them upside down and stuffed them with newspaper for support.
The other half was used to create decorative pieces such as tube coral, sea enemies, star fish and barnacles.
 
If the attached pieces were small, the kids just used white vinegar and that held up well. 
However, if your kid's pieces are large then I'd recommend scoring and using slip to attach.
 I fired the clay on a slow setting after 3 days of dry time.
It took us 4 classes: 1 to discuss, introduce and research coral reefs, 2 days to create the piece and 1 final day to paint & seal with ModPodge.
The final products are beautiful and the kids are so proud!
I'll definitely be keeping this project on my lesson plans for next year!

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