This past spring I was finishing up a science unit with a grade 1/2 class and wanted to come up with a fun culminating project where my students could apply everything they had learnt and produce something they could be proud of! The unit was on the characteristics of objects and materials, a bit tough for me to wrap my head around at first but one that has endless possibilities. As I thought about it over a few weeks a friend sent me a link to an art project idea called “Trahosaurus” (http://www.kid-at-art.com/htdoc/lesson13.html). I thought what a wonderful idea! The project hit all the things I was interested in: it was related to my unit, it introduced environmental stewardship and it incorporated art into science!
To kick off the project I started a discussion with the students about what recycling was, what we recycled and why we do it. We also explored how they could be agents of change in the world despite being only in grade 1 and 2. The look on their faces when they realized they had the power to help change the world was truly incredible. I then sent them home with a note and a task to start bringing in cleaned recyclable materials e.g. cereal boxes, milk bottles. At first the students were a bit confused but as we continued our discussion about how they could take care of the environment and exactly what we were going to do with the materials they got more and more excited! I was astounded and very proud as a classroom stared to fill up with recyclable materials. I collected odds and ends we would need for our structure from a local stop named artsjunktion (http://www.artsjunktion.mb.ca/).
Once the week was over I told the students we were going to start our project on Monday morning so they had better have their thinking caps ready. Monday morning we sat down and talked about design and why it was so important when building things. Together we can up with a design based off the dinosaur we thought would be the most sturdy. And then the building started..
It was an amazing process! The students took turns building the structure, luckily there were three adults in the room so it did not disrupt the classroom routine too much. As the design took shape you could see the excitement on the kids faces! They were really building something out of junk! After our structure was done we started to paper mache our creation. This was a messy proposition but is one that I think was totally worth it! We ensured that the floor was protected and that the students knew how to take care when working with the paste and paper.
After it dried out we added some colour. We decided that because nobody knows what dinosaurs looked like, that we could take some creative freedom and paint it however we felt like!
Note: we put a window into the belly which was stuffed with our leftover materials to show that it really was made of recyclable materials!
Violoa! You have a “trashosaurus”! I will definitely be doing this project again in the future!
Tips and pointers if you are considering building one of your own:
- Take care to design and collect materials that will give your structure strength. Ours began to lean as you can clearly see!
- It can get messy, but 99% of kids don’t mind! For those who don’t like getting messy you can just find another job for them to do. I had one create a brain for our dinosaur and another to create a heart!
- Inform your janitors, ours got on board and actually came in everyday to see how our project was progressing.
- It takes time and patience but it will come together.