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Diving Whale Sculpture

The blue whale is the largest animal ever to have lived on earth! Create a life-like, miniature sculpture of this fascinating creature.

  • Grade 2
    Grade 3
    Grade 4
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Whales are warm-blooded, air-breathing mammals that live in every ocean. Many of them make long migrations. Some species hum so loud that the sound can travel thousands of miles through the water to other whales. There are two types of whales--baleen and toothed whales. Baleen whales eat plankton such as krill and small fish. Toothed whales may eat fish, squid, crabs, shrimp, sharks, seals, sea lions, penguins, and even other whales, dolphins, and porpoises.
    2. The part of the whale that people most often see is its fluke or tail as it surfaces for air and dives back into the ocean. Students create a unique sculpture that shows a whale in its natural habitat. Work on a clean, dry surface such as a paper plate. Use photos of whales to design the sculpture. This is how the sculpture in the picture was made.
    3. Press a chunk of Crayola Air-Dry Clay into an ocean-like base. Smooth the edges with a dampened finger. Or roll the base with a rolling pin and cut the edges with a modeling tool such as a craft stick or plastic knife. If you like, roll more clay into a coil. Place it around the edge of the base to create a lip. If the clay is a little dry, moisten the pieces with a wet finger.
    4. Use a modeling tool to cut out mountain ranges, islands, glaciers, or another background from more clay. Add texture by using a finger, a craft stick, or a clay stylus. Attach the pieces to the edge of the base. Form a whale’s tail and attach it. Add misty splashes coming from the whale’s blowhole!
    5. Paint the mountains, ocean, and whale with Crayola Washable Watercolors. Gently wash the color on the wet clay. To create deeper colors, air-dry the first coat and repaint. Air-dry the finished sculpture for at least 3 days.
  • Standards

    LA: Know and apply grade-level phonics anccccd word analysis skills in decoding words.

    LA: Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    LA: Conduct short research projects that build knowledge through investigation of aspects of a topic.

    LA: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

    LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience in an organized manner, using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.

    SCI: Ask questions about the natural and human-built worlds.

    SCI: Construct drawings or diagrams as representations of events or systems.

    SCI: Construct original explanations of phenomena using knowledge of accepted scientific theory and linking it to models and evidence.

    VA: Use visual structures of art to communicate ideas.

    VA: Select and use subject matter, symbols, and ideas to communicate meaning.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: Is a Blue Whale the Biggest Thing There Is? by Robert E. Wells; Blue Whales by John Calambokid

    Many whale species are being placed on the endangered species list. Encourage students to investigate what is causing their demise. Students can organize their research into an electronic presentation to share with classmates.

    Students research Project Jonah and learn how stranded whales are being rescued.

    How were whales used by humans in the past? Students investigate the Colonial Period in American history when whaling was an occupation. Why were these animals hunted? How were their bodies used? Organize research into an electronic presentation for classmates to view.

    Students investigate many species of whales. Using a class constructed chart, students divide the species into two categories: toothed whales and baleen whales. Record similarities and differences between the two categories. Post this information in the classroom.

    Today, the Macah Nation is the only tribe that has a treaty granting it the right to hunt whales. Investigate how these people rely on whales to survive.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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