Clay Rattles with 6th Grade Art

We made rattles out of clay in 6th grade art classes!  Look at this sweet skull rattle that one of my students is making!  I wanted to have a fun clay project that we could complete in the short time we have together.  If a project is also functional, so much the better. 

This lesson is inspired by Native American symbolism, dance, and musical traditions.  We read about music and dance and the importance in Native American rituals.  We learned that rattles are a common musical instrument used in ceremonies, although they're made out of materials such as turtle shells or tin cans.  We decided to instead form our rattles out of clay.  We either mimicked common symbols from Native American cultures, or made up our own personal symbols to form and decorate these shaker-rattles.  

First, we drew plans for our rattles.  Then, we formed two small pinch pots, which were joined together to form the basic ball shape of the rattle.  Slab and coil forms helped us decorate the basic forms to create new shapes and designs.  Then we fired our clay.

After the clay was fired, we added a finish coat of paint and shiny glaze to top it off, and... voila!  My rattle is a strawberry, since it's my favorite fruit.  I also added a fancy letter "L" on the back for Leban.  You can see my plan behind my rattle in the photo below.

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