Sunday, November 25, 2012

4th Grade Asian Dragons

I saw an Asian style dragon on Pinterest a while back that was made with a coil. That seemed simple enough, so it was one of the first ideas I collected for our East Asian study this fall. The coil dragon I saw came from A Faithful Attempt. To begin the project, I showed an East Asian dragons PowerPoint to my students. I'd be happy to share this resource later if anyone is interested*. It's not the prettiest PowerPoint ever, but I did put a lot of work into finding specifics on dragons from China, Japan, and Korea so could go beyond "uh, they have dragons in Asia." We spent a couple minutes talking about the differences between Western and Asian dragons- there are quite a few! Did you know that Asian dragons didn't usually have wings? They could use magic to fly without them. Also, the bodies are more serpentine and Asian dragons spent more time being benevolent than, oh, burning down castles and the like. 
*Here's the PowerPoint!

*I had a couple students ask me "Are dragons real? You're talking about them like they're real!" I just told them that some people think they were, some people think they were imagined after discovering dinosaur fossils or something like that. But, they are part of the culture and the legends, so it's easier to talk about them as if they are real.

Also, did you know you can tell if a dragon is from China, Japan, or Korea by counting the toes/claws? Each culture claims that dragons started in their country and has a reason for the different number of claws. Chinese dragons have 5, Korean have 4, and Japanese have 3. In China they said that dragons lost toes as they traveled east, in Japan they say that dragons grew toes as they traveled west, and in Korea they either lost a toe from traveling east or grew a toe from traveling west. You may notice that our dragons don't have feet (and therefore look more like Nessie, our underwater ally, than an Asian dragon). This was due to time constraints. By the time most of the students got their coil dragons secure enough to stand, they maybe had time to add scales, but most did not have time to add feet.

For the studio portion, the students rolled their clay into a coil, shaped it in a way that it supported itself and stood up, then added details- all in about 20 minutes! I only see my intermediate kids for 40 minutes every other week so they have to complete their handbuilding in one class period. In the second class period, the students used acrylic paint to add color and detail to their dragons. My intermediate school was randomly selected by an area Walmart for their teacher appreciation program and EVERY teacher in my building received a $50 gift card for classroom use! How awesome is that? I used a good chunk of my money to buy acrylic paint, even some metallic paint which was a BIG hit.


  1. AWESOME. I always love new coil lessons.

  2. I think these dragons are very successful, even without feet! I would love to have the PowerPoint if you're willing to share! Thanks for an informative post.


  3. Katie, I just realized that many of my recent "pins" on Pinterest are from your blog! So, I started following you, and I am going to add you to my blog roll on my own blog. Keep up the good work!
    ~Jessica (