Friday, November 30, 2018

Rizzi-Inspired Papier-Mache Vehicles!

In DragonWing Arts, our theme for the fall was "Let's Get Moving!", and I developed a brand-new papier-mache project, building a prototype to make sure it was going to work. Above is the that prototype.

I introduced my small class to the charming work of James Rizzi.  I don't always have internet access, so I purchased a Rizzi calendar and shared his work with my students through the images on the calendar.  We especially noted the goofy vehicles with passengers and drivers with big smiles, wide eyes, and lots of personality.  And birds, too!  We noted the black outlines on all the bright colors.  And the students set out to make their own happy goofy vehicles.

They began with an assortment of boxes and other odds and ends.  Students taped parts together to create the basic desired shape of their vehicle, (and tested them with CDs to see how they'd look with wheels).   

Then they were covered with a couple of coats of papier-mache.

Meanwhile, CDs were decorated with colored Sharpies to become happy wheels, and we determined wheel placement on the vehicles.  I marked the location of the centers of the wheels and used a drill to cut holes for axles (wooden dowels).

Students painted a coat of gesso on the dry papier-mache.  The bright white gesso makes paint colors show up more brightly, essential for the James Rizzi theme.

Then, the vehicles were painted with cheerful colors.  

When the paint dried, we used oil-based paint markers to add people in the windows, and to outline the people and the areas of color on the vehicles with black.  The wheels were assembled with a slice of pool noodle between two CDs.  The axle was inserted in the vehicle, with a wheel placed on the dowel on each side, and a bottle cap hubcap was glued on each end of the dowel, not attached to the wheel.  This meant the wheels could each turn independently.   You can see the wheel construction on these photos below of my prototype.  I still need to add my headlights!
We used various 'gems' as lights and other embellishments on the vehicles.  Here's the box of gems after the lid popped off while I was putting it away.  Oops....

Here's an adorable finished train car made by my youngest student, a 3rd grade boy.

And a funky race car made by a 4th grade girl.

The wackiest shaped vehicle was this, which was some sort of camper trailer contraption, made by a delightful 5th grade girl.  She missed one class out of our 7 classes, and tends to work slowly, so I'm glad she was able to get this project complete. With more time, she could have spent more time on her windows and people.

I wish we'd had more time for more details, but we did the best we could with the time we had. We had one emergency class cancellation, not a snow day, but a squirrel day!  Yes, we  had a squirrel invader making himself at home in our classroom, and making quite a mess.  Once he was trapped (and released far away, I hope) we were able to get back to class.  I'm pretty terrified of rodents so this was a traumatic incident!

I only had three students this fall; they are three of the nicest kids ever.  There was zero arguing or fighting, and they were so kind to each other.  They go to different schools and hadn't met before, but instantly formed friendships and by the end of the session, they often left class arm-in-arm and with hugs, and had exchanged digits and were planning play dates!  So the projects were successful, but there was this additional success as well!

By the way - this was, as I said, a very small class.  If you attempt this project with a larger class, there's one important adaptation I'd make.  I'd use a base box of the same size for each student, that then could be added to.  If the bottom footprint of each vehicle, whether a train, a taxi, a school bus, a fire engine, a taxi cab, a truck, or an airplane, was the same size, all the axles could be cut to the same size and save a LOT of trouble!! Otherwise, this project can be done pretty easily.  Have fun!

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