Musings about the importance and impact of art and art education in the 21st century.

5th Grade Wayne Thiebaud Unit -clay Cupcakes and Cupcake Triptychs

♠ Posted by ArtMuse at 4:10 PM
This unit took about 12 weeks to complete, it was a real doozy! However, I have to say that my students really rose to the occasion and came out with some amazing artwork. Of all the units I've ever taught this is probably one of my favorites.  It all started a few years ago with a fourth-grade class who had an extra art every other week. That particular class happened to be a really calm, focused group of kids who worked really well together and didn't need a tremendous amount of structure or direction to complete the assigned tasks. Because of how independently they worked, and how much freedom I was able to give them, I had the idea of introducing three styles of art and having them create a cupcake triptych which represented each of those styles. 

At the time, I kept the lesson really open ended and exploratory with almost little to no demonstrations or explicit instructions. I simply gave them a few informational sheets, images, and some tips and tricks for using  different materials and let them do their thing. The results I got were really individual and unique to each student and I love the idea that their personal styles were able to come through and be developed while working on a project like this. 

Fast forward a few years to my current fifth-graders, who are my first graduating class and who I've taught since kindergarten, and with whom I feel really comfortable, and so I figured I would give the lesson a try again. This time, I structured the project much more and centered it around artist Wayne Thiebaud. I created a PowerPoint for the project and assigned specific materials to specific styles. I started the unit with clay cupcakes where the kids used silicone molds to create the bases and coils or pinch pot tops for the icing. Following the clay portion of the unit, the children started their 2D triptych. One cupcake had to be in the style of Wayne Thiebaud with oil pastels, the second had to be Surreal with colored pencil, and the third Abstract with markers.