Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Native American Animal Hide Art Project

This week I was asked to help my daughter's second grade class with a Thanksgiving art project (one of my favorite things to do :))

 I can still remember one of my favorite art projects from my elementary school years.  We were learning about the Pioneer days, and we made Indian art on faux animal hides. It must have made an impact since I still remember it some 30+ years later.  My daughter's class just finished up a unit on the Wild West, and Thanksgiving is right around the corner, so I did some research and came up with a lesson for American Indian animal hide art. I found a similar lesson already online at Dick Blick, but here's how we did ours.

I precut 20 grocery bags-the front side of the bag or side without the crease. First, we talked about the different types of Native American Art like cave and rock carvings, basketry, pottery, sand art and clothing. There are tons of websites out there on these art forms and the history of Native American art.

We also learned how Native American's used symbols to represent different things in their drawings. I drew a variety of Native American symbols on the white board, and talked about what some of them represented. Then we learned that instead of paper or canvas,  Indians used tanned animal hides for their art. The hides were also used for maps, prayers and to record stories. I showed a sample of an animal hide shape, reminding them that it didn't have to be perfect. Next, I instructed the kids to draw out their animal hide shape on the backside of the paper (the side with the "Kroger" logo), and then either cut or tear out the shape.

Next was the fun part! I showed the kids how to wad up the paper into a ball, and then flatten back out again, reminding them to use care and not rip the paper. I told them to do this five times (or more) and then they would start to see that the paper would get soft and wrinkled. Then I showed them how to fold it in half and rub the sides together to give the paper a furry feel. They went crazy doing this!

Before we started our designs, we talked about how Native American's used charcoal and minerals to "paint" on their hides, and the colors were usually limited to sienna, ochre, turquoise, black and white. I encouraged the students to use as much color as they wanted, and also to create their own symbols. 

Now time to draw the design with a black marker.

We used Crayola oil pastels to fill in the designs.

Last we mounted the finished "hide" on a piece of black construction paper.

I taught this to 20 second graders, and we completed it right under one hour. Students were engaged the entire time and loved making their designs. This was also a project that the boys seemed to enjoy as much as the girls.

Do you remember your favorite art project as a kid? I would love to hear what you remember!

Happy Thanksgiving Yall!


Mrs. P, Art Explorer said...

Lovely project--I may need to wiggle my way into my son's classroom to do this one! I've done a similar project with my students on cave paintings where they used the same supplies and then strung them on twig frames (definitely for older children). My memories of childhood projects were more technique: platter paintings using toothbrushes and paint, doing doodle drawings where you used a simple doodle on your paper and turned it into an entire picture. I mostly remember the feelings I felt when in art class (happy, of course!). After reading all of the wonderful projects today's art teachers do, I wish I could go back and take art class all over again! Thanks for the post, Mrs. P (www.createartwithme.blogspot.com)

Mrs. P, Art Explorer said...

Did this with my after school art class, "Tribal Art of North America" and the children loved it. Posted it to my blog and credited your blog (http://createartwithme.blogspot.com/2012/12/story-telling-animal-pelts.html). Thank you for the post! Mrs. P

Cindy deRosier said...

I'm the Editorial Assistant for Fun Family Crafts and I wanted to let you know that we have featured your faux hide project! You can see it here:


If you have other kid-friendly crafts, we'd love it if you would submit them. If you would like to display a featured button on your site, you can grab one from the right side bar of your post above. Thanks for a great project idea!

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