Thursday, July 17, 2014

Mud Ponies

Last school year we spent some time learning about Native American cultures for our district's Cultural Heritage studies. I came across the book "The Mud Pony" by Caron Lee Cohen and thought it would be a great starting point for a clay project. I didn't have my clay order in yet so I filed the idea away until spring. 
Here's a description of the story from Publishers Weekly:
"From the Skidi branch of the Pawnee Indians of the Plains comes this tale of a boy who achieves greatness in his tribe with the guidance of a pony he made out of mud. Too poor to own a pony like the other boys, he fashions a small mud pony and goes to see it every day. It is during one of these visits that the rest of the tribe moves west in search of buffalo, and the boy is left behind. Not only does the mud pony become a living, breathing horse, but she takes him to his tribe; later, she helps him become the chief of his tribe by giving him great power in battles. "I am here, your Mother Earth. You are not alone!" are the words he hears when the mud pony has once again gone back to the earth. Cohen retells this story with grace; Begay, a Native American artist, provides evocative paintings that derive strength and impact from the suggestion of action rather than fully detailed scenes. Ages 5-8."
I made a really awesome illustration (haha) to show the steps I demonstrated for sculpting a clay horse. I hope that it makes sense!
 This was a little tricky for a lot of the 2nd graders, who tend to either pinch too much and make legs too skinny to support the weight of the rest of the animal, or legs that are too short making the animal hard to identify. I think it would be easier for older students.
Since we are using choice based art, I didn't require that the students make a horse, just that they sculpt the clay. In my next blog post, I'll share some of the other sculpture projects.

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