Hello! For this entry I would like to share with you a lesson that I taught to my 3D Design II class, but it could easily be taught in 9th – 12th grade. The project is Soap Sculptures! This is a tiered lesson that is an excellent form of differentiated instruction because it provides students with multiple ways to meet the objectives based on the students’ interests and learning needs. Students can challenge themselves based on the word they choose, and or how they design and create the sculpture.
Objective: To explore subtractive sculpture techniques in the design and creation of a sculpture in the round using a word from the dictionary as the sculpture’s subject.
Essential Question: How can I interpret a word to create a sculpture in the round using subtractive sculpture techniques?
Time Frame: 7 - 10 forty-two minute classes.
Assessment: This project is formally assessed with a rubric using the following criteria: Design and Composition, Creativity, Utilization of Techniques, and Craftsmanship. Presentation. Each criteria is worth 25 points for a total of 100 points. I also informally assess students each day as I circulate around the room to provide feedback.
Materials: Bars of Soap, butter knives, index cards, T-Pins, clay carving tools, ribbon tools, water/bowls, needle tools, scissors, Dictionary pages.
Sequence of Action:
1). As students enter the room, pass out pages of the dictionary to students at random. Direct students to highlight or circle 3 – 5 words that interest them.
2). Have students pair and share with a partner to discuss the words they picked; have them explain to their partner why they chose these words and not others.
3). Introduce project by passing out project outline sheet. Demonstrate how to sketch ideas for project, showing a concrete idea and an abstract idea. Direct students to create a minimum of 2 sketches in their sketchbook using the words from their randomly assigned dictionary page as inspiration for the sculptures subject. Students can create 2 sketches with 2 words, or 2 sketches with 1 word shown in 2 different ways. Students work hands on sketches while teacher circulates to coach students in small groups and one on one.
4). Demonstrate how to create a template to use to transfer their sketch to the soap. Demonstrate by placing bar of soap on index card and tracing around the soap. Revise the shape and add details to sculpture by drawing inside the soap tracing. Cut out template with scissors. Place template on top of soap and use a T-Pin to transfer the design using a “Connect the Dots” approach. Students work hands on to create templates and transfer template designs to soap. (1-2 days)
5). Demonstrate how to carve basic shape of soap by using a butter knife and larger clay tools. Stress that students should work gently and cautiously so they do not split or fracture their soap. Also stress that students should be looking at the sculpture from 360 degrees. Students work hands on to cut out basic shape of soap sculpture while teacher circulates around the room to coach students. (1-2 days)
6). Demonstrate how to add fine details using clay carving tools. Stress that students should continue to look at the sculpture from 360 degrees and that they should also continue to work cautiously as they carve. Students may also use water to smooth out rough edges or attach pieces using scoring techniques, similar to clay. Students work on adding fine details and textures to soap while teacher circulates around the room to coach students. (2-3days)
7). Have students write dictionary word and its definition on an index card. Place sculpture and index card together for Praise, Prompt, and Polish critique. After critique, students will work hands on to put finishing touches onto sculpture and turn in for assessment. (1-2 days)
8). Assess sculptures. Type up words and their definitions. Put sculptures on display with words/definitions.
· Ask your school librarian for an old dictionary. Pre-view and scan pages (front and back) and cut out pages with a good variety of words. I find that this project was successful because I used an actual page from a dictionary and I did not just allow them to pick their own word at random, it makes the project more enchanting. Additionally, this provides for part of the tiering of this assignment. Students could choose nouns, verbs, adjectives, or adverbs based on the learning needs and interest. I find if you think a student isn’t challenging him or herself, encourage he or she to try something more difficult.
· Use flat bars of soap. Curved bars of soap like Dove were much more difficult and slippery to work with because of the curve in the soap’s shape. I purchased bars of soap at the Dollar Store in packs of 3 for a $1.00.
· Try to choose soaps with light scents, as the room will quickly begin to smell like soap. You may work on these outside if you are able to.
· Soap shavings are incredibly sticky! Have students work on top of newspaper when working; have a few good scrapers on hands to help remove stuck on soap from tables. Soap cleans up best when dry, not wet.
· When you display these sculptures, include the student’s chosen word next to the sculpture to help viewer’s understand the soap’s subject.
· Soap can be extremely tricky to carve; emphasize slow and steady with gentle pressure as students work.
· To store soap sculptures in between classes, line a few copy box lids with scrunched up tissue paper to create a cushion.
Working on this project was a lot of fun! Students were mesmerized by the idea of using soap as a sculpture medium. Caution: this project is much more difficult than you may expect! Although it does have some obstacles to overcome in terms of figuring out what the medium can and can’t do, it is significantly cheaper than many of the sculpture blocks and clays found in art supply catalogs. Additionally, it is something that can also be done at home, as supplies needed are generally very basic, so students who enjoy this project could make more sculptures at home for fun.
Thanks for reading!