My partner, Claire Kirk, created the Beetle Sculpture unit as a way to integrate 2nd Grade’s learning from the classroom to the art room. Studying habits in class, 2nd Graders started by drawing from observation beetles found in Hong Kong. With an emphasis on symmetry, students drew half the beetle and created the other half by painting over their pencil lines, folding the paper, and creating an ink blot to present the other side and complete the beetle.
After an understanding of symmetry and proportion, students began building the structure of their beetles using newspaper, newsprint, and masking tape. Students demonstrated their understanding of proportion and symmetry by trying to construct their beetle’s head, thorax and abdomen accurately to their reference picture. Wire was then used to create the legs and antennas of the beetles and then were attached to the underside of the thorax and abdomen.
Students then began to papier-mâché their beetles by using white tissue paper strips and watered down latex glue. The glue helped give their beetle a hard shell and smooth surface to paint on. Furthermore, the latex glue works better than a flour and water mixture for the mâché due to the humidity and potential mold issue we have here in Hong Kong.
After allowing the beetles to dry thoroughly, students painted a base coat. Students first painted the body and then used their hands to massage paint on the legs and used their fingers to get paint into the nooks and crannies of their beetle.
Storage and organization was a massive part of behind the scenes preparation for each lesson. From finding enough places to allow the beetles to dry to storing them in-between classes, it was a gigantic task. I utilized the art room balcony for drying and storing the beetles in larges baskets in between lessons.
Lastly, students then added details, designs, patterns and highlights to their beetle with a second layer of paint. Because each beetle was different, students had to use their problem solving skills to make decisions about their paint color choices, which areas to paint first and what details to paint last. Although we could have spent one more lesson painting and refining, what the 2nd Graders achieved in this unit is impressive!
The swarm left the art room before the end of the school year and now I am left with the task of putting the art room back together after Beetle Mania! HELP!