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Spiral Vase

Looking for a memorable, handmade gift? The sculpting technique of building with coils may be ancient, but this vase crafted in Model Magic® is totally cutting edge.

  • Grade 3
    Grade 4
    Grade 5
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Spirals occur often in nature. Ask students where they have seen spirals. Perhaps in a Nautilus shell or the center of a sunflower? Invite students to research spiral or coil pots made in various cultures such as Native American peoples. Organize resources for students to view and suggest several Internet web sites for students to peruse.
    2. A contemporary version of the coil vase makes a great gift! Invite students to make one! After covering their work space with recycled newspaper, distribute various colors of Crayola Model Magic to students. Children will roll colored Crayola Model Magic into several snakes. Demonstrate how to coil a base with one snake. When Model Magic is fresh from the pack it sticks to itself! If it is not fresh, the coils can be glued together.
    3. Students place a recycled plastic container atop a newly-created coil, so it becomes an armature for a vase. Cover the sides of the container with more coils, but with whimsical twists. Create lumpy layers by going back and forth. Embed shapes or animals within the coils. Change colors. Finish the vase with a lip at the top. Air-dry the vase for at least 24 hours.
    4. Continue the theme by filling the vase with spiral flowers. Roll chenille stems into coils. Place them inside vase. Or fill the vase with dried flowers or other craft items to suit the recipient of one's gift vase.
    5. Once student artwork is complete, invite children to design note cards to the people they are presenting the vases to. Suggest students include in their notes reference to the historical research they uncovered about the vases.
  • Standards

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

    LA: Read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grade level text complexity band independently and proficiently.

    LA: Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade level topic or subject area.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    MATH: Generate two numerical patterns using two given rules. Identify apparent relationships between corresponding terms. Form ordered pairs consisting of corresponding terms from the two patterns, and graph the ordered pairs on a coordinate plane.

    MATH: Understand that attributes belonging to a category of two-dimensional figures also belong to all subcategories of that category.

    VA: Select media, techniques, an processes; analyze what makes them effective or not effective in communicating ideas; and reflect upon the effectiveness of choices.

    VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of experiences and ideas.

    VA: Use subjects, themes, and symbols that demonstrate knowledge of contexts, values, and aesthetics that communicate intended meaning in artworks.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci by Joseph D'Agnese; Growing Patterns by Sarah C. Campbell; Fascinating Fibonaccis by Dale Seymour Publications

    Students use vocabulary related to the mathematical portion of the lesson plan (pattern, spiral, etc.) to compose a poem about Fibonacci, flowers, or a topic of choice. Students may choose to write their poems in a the shape of a spiral.

    Students investigate Robert Smithson's great earthworks, "Spiral Jetty" and its connection to the Fibonacci spiral.

    Working in small groups, students investigate their school building to log spiral shapes found in nature, architectural design, and history. This investigation may be expanded to student homes, local museums, community buildings, etc. Encourage students to take digital photographs to document their log entries. Upload these files to a class computer, organize them, and create an electronic presentation sharing student finds.


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