Snail in the Garden: Integrating Color Theory into an Air Dry Clay Lesson
By: Angie Chi
For ages: 3-5
Key Terms: Primary Colors, Secondary Colors, Tertiary Colors, Proportion, Additive Color Mixing
A lesson that I have been teaching recently is how to integrate color theory into an air-dry clay class. The lesson includes making a background scene with a snail while only using primary colors.
Step 1: Making the background
The first step in the lesson is creating a background scene. Since the focus animal that I teach is a snail, the scene I like to introduce is a garden. To create grass and dirt I ask students how to make green and brown using the 3 primary colors.
By introducing green and brown I am able to discuss how primary colors like blue and yellow mix to create secondary colors like green. To create brown, a tertiary color, students mix two secondary colors (green and orange) for their dirt.
Step 2: Making the snail shell
Once students are finished making their background I move onto making the snail shell. Students pick 3 colors that they want the shell to be and roll them into even pieces. The key is to make all 3 colors even so that they the color distribution will look good after rolling them together. Once the 3 pieces are even, roll them against the table to that they stick together so that you have one piece of 3 colors. With the 3 colored piece, roll and twist so that you get a spiral shape. If students want to use a color that is not one of the primary colors, the need to create the colors themselves.
Step 3: The snail’s body
With the shell completed, students move onto the body of the snail. The body is usually thicker than the shell so that it can support the weight of the shell. Leave a bit more clay towards the front of the body to create the eyes.
Step 4: The snail’s eyes
The snail’s eyes can be shaped directly from the body that students created in step 3. Simply split the front of the body into two parts and shape them upwards so that it looks like two antennae sticking out of the body. I distribute some white and black at this point of the lesson for them to create the irises and whites of the eyes and let the students know that white and black are special colors that cannot be mixed and are not primary colors.
Step 5: Putting it all together
Once the snail’s body and shell are complete, put the two together with the shell going on towards the middle back of the body so that the eyes do not get crushed. Then put the completed snail in the background.
Here's an example of a teacher's:
Step 6: Optional decorating
With the snail in the background complete, have students decorate their boards in whatever way they want. Let that creativity shine through!