Thursday, March 1, 2018

CelluClay Animal Finger Puppets

I'm always looking for new cool things to try in my classroom to keep me on my toes and keep kids excited about what might be coming next! I'm getting ready to start a big project with 6th grade and needed a quick mini lesson that would give them some experience with CelluClay. If you've never used this stuff, you're missing out. It brings together the best parts of clay and paper mache: it's easily manipulated, it sticks to itself and almost every other surface imaginable, you can shape it into just about anything you can dream up, and it dries sturdy and ready for paint within a day or 3 (depending on the thickness of what you make). The best part? No kiln needed, and kids still walk out of the art room with a durable, lasting, memorable piece they'll love. 

For my quick mini lesson I decided to look in the cupboards to see what we could use as an armature under the CelluClay to give it shape and stretch my product. Folks donate all kinds of neato things to my art room and I happily hoard them just in case. You know, just in case it might be useful one day. 

I happened upon quite a stash of these tiny plastic cups in my cupboard and an idea hit me. We could use these to make little finger puppets. I thought of a coworker who's related to someone who collects little finger puppet heads. Still with me? Good. I've made little finger puppets with this coworker before to make personalized gifts for their relative but we've always used traditional clay. They were always whimsical people, and because they were clay they had to dry for days, bisque fire in the kiln, then they needed to be glazed and fired again. It's time consuming. CelluClay cuts all of those extra steps down and simplifies the process. 

For this 1 day (40 minutes) lesson I decided we'd focus on animals. Most kids like animals, and they'd get to choose! I mixed up a bucket of celluclay (I save old wallpaper paste buckets to mix paper mache paste in and these work perfectly for celluclay too). Wanna make a cute lil CelluClay animal finger puppet too? Here's what you'll need:

- mix up a bucket of CelluClay (make sure you have a lid so you can save leftovers for later)
- give everyone a tiny cup (yogurt cups work just as well, I collect those too)
- Sharpies to write names and class sections inside the cups
- cover your tables, this stuff is sticky (we used "messy mats")
- each table needs a dish or two of water to help smooth things out as they work
- acrylic paints
- brushes
- metallic Sharpies (optional)

After students had their messy mats ready to go and names/class sections were written on cups, I walked around the room and gave each student a handful of CelluClay. I showed them how to smooth it over the surface (you can read about mixing it up and how to apply it here, which also explains why we are doing this mini lesson). 

They set to work making an animal finger puppet, choosing whatever animal they wished! For those not really feelin the animal finger puppet vibe, they had the option of making a tiny planter. Those students did not cover the bottom of the cups (we'll be poking a tiny hole in the bottom for drainage and any water coming out could be a gross mix with the paper mache clay later). Folks making planters added funny faces, dots, lines, and fancied them up any way they wished! Once completed, they placed them in a copy paper box lid lined with wax paper (to prevent them from sticking to the lid). 

The next time we meet students will use acrylics to paint their pieces. I made a bear and decided not to make it look traditional. I was feelin a bit more Lisa Frank funky today and kids LOVED it! Once dry I added texture details with black and silver Sharpies. 

The painting surface isn't entirely smooth, but that adds a bit of whimsical character that I don't mind a bit. Love this idea but don't have CelluClay? Visit ACTIVA Products and check it out! Not only do I LOVE CelluClay, but I love the company that makes it. My experiences with them have been SUPER personable and encouraging, and they love to see what my students are making with their products! (They don't pay me or compensate me to say these things, I truly mean them!)

We'll document our work to share on Instagram @ashcanworks so be sure to check them out!

This morning I had 10 seconed grade cuties join me for AR reading points free art time! We used some leftover CelluClay to make animal finger puppets and they LOVED it! I've only tried these with 2nd graders and 6th graders, but this stuff is a fan fav. If you try it out, share pics! We love to see how ideas inspire others!