2nd Grade: Wild Things

For years I have been doing a project based on "Where the Wild Things Are".  We talk about texture - real and applied.  Some years I have the kids use chalk, other times colored pencils and while I always repeated the project, I was never really happy with it.  I always felt that it was more flat than I wanted.

Well, problem solved.  I am not sure how or when the idea came to me, but BAM there it was.  The students would make their "wild things" on  aluminum and create their habitat on a background paper with bright colors and ideas!

So here we go - first off we watched this fabulous and slightly corny video I found through Pinterest  -- careful it's catchy and will get stuck in your head for the ENTIRE day:

Next, we read "Where the Wild Things Are", the beloved classic.  After we read the book we went back and took a long hard look at the Wild Things.  We discussed their implied textures and how it looked like it felt a certain way.  There is always ONE kid in every class that shares how each wild thing is made up of different animals which is a great segway into the project.
"It's a cat and a fish - get it? It's a catfish" - Aiden

As I send students back to their seats I ask them to think of an animal and raise their hand.  Next, students help me build an original wild thing using four or more animals.  The kids tend to get real excited and a bit rowdy at this point - who can blame them when there is a tiger, turtle, wolf, snail, dragon on the board!?!?

Next, the kids draw their own wild things using their own idea on a piece of paper.  They need to make sure to draw their implied textures!  When they are done I tape their papers onto a piece of aluminum, hand them a magazine and tell them to trace their wild thing really hard on top of the magazine.  I don't tell them why, I want them to discover it themselves.  Sure enough, about two seconds into tracing they figure it out - one by one and its a beautiful sight.  The students realize that as they are tracing their pictures, it is transferring to the metal and you can ACTUALLY feel it - their implied texture is now actual texture. 

After their wild things are traced I show them how to tool their metal by pushing parts with either their pencil or a capped marker.  We discuss how you have to visualize what you want and then think it through - for example: "If I want my tiger stripes to pop out on the front I need to push them in from the back" or "If I want my scales to sink into my animal, I need to push them in from the front".  There is some serious visualized and planning during this step.  You can almost see the gears in their brain moving as they increase their spacial thinking.

After they are tooled to the students liking they color accordingly with permanent markers, which is a treat within itself.  Then, once they are colored, students cut them out - CAREFULLY.  I told them to cut off extra if it got in their way and to be careful because the metal can be sharp.

LASTLY, students created an original habitat for their wild thing to live.  Their habitat could be based on a real place: forest, jungle, volcano - or could be made up: candy land, new planet, an island made of cookies.  The goal for their habitat was to use their drawing and coloring skills to communicate to the audience what/where the habitat was.  So, if they did make candy land, then they would need to figure out what kind of shapes and colors they would use to communicate that to a viewer.

After they drew their habitats with a black oil pastel, they colored it in with chalk pastel.  I ask the students to channel "Goldilocks" from the three bears when they color.  This comment gets a variety of gut reactions from the kids that range from giggles to pure confusion.  Quickly I ask them about the porridge - too hot, too cold and just right.  The beds - too hard, too soft, just right.  I explain that they need to color not too hard, not too light, but just right.  Then they understand.

In their final class students blend their habitats starting at the lightest color to the darkest.  Students bring me their habitat and wild things and show me where to hot glue their wild thing.

I absolutely LOVE this project.  Students get to be as original as possible while also learning some great technique and skills.  For most of my classes this whole thing from start to end took about three 50 minute sessions. (Day one: intro and transferring wild thing to metal.  Day two: start habitat. Day three: finish habitat, finish wild thing)

Forgive the pictures - the pictures no where near capture the awesomeness of this project - metal is really hard to photograph!

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