Classical Conversations Cycle 1 Projects

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Food allergy mamas, bear with me as I post a little help for my home school group.  :)  I worked on some of our second semester projects last night for Classical Conversations, and this was the best place to share for my tutors and directors all over the U.S.  And hey, you may get some ideas for projects over break.  



My kids love fossils, and this experiment is going to be very enjoyable for them.  But I knew I could not enjoy it knowing that hazardous Plaster of Paris was being handled by the kids in a church that we are trying to steward well.  Too many dangers with this stuff.  

So I came up with a much simpler, cleaner, and safer way to do these fossil prints.  I hope this helps!

Alex Model Clay for the MOLD.  
Crayola Airy Dry Clay for the FOSSIL.  

Start this project with each child having:

Styrofoam plate with name on it
Alex Clay - half stick
Crayola Clay - quarter size ball
Squirt of Petroleum Jelly 
Baggy with name on it


Alex Modeling Clay is the perfect consistency to make molds for our fossils.  Give each student half of a stick.  So this package would cover 32 students.  Have students roll their half stick into a quarter size ball. Then flatten.  

Rub petroleum jelly onto the shell portion that will go into the clay.  

Press the shell into the clay until enough of an impression is made.  You don't have to squish the whole shell in or the white clay will be thicker and take longer to dry.  Push in about 1/4 of an inch.

Next, fill the impression and make your fossil with Crayola Air-Dry Clay.  It is very soft and pliable. Have each child roll about a nickel size piece of Crayola clay into a ball.  Then press the white clay into the Alex clay mold.  Slowly, remove and peal away the white soft clay and let it sit out until the end of class.  Store in individual baggies with student names so they can be transported and finish drying overnight.  

The end product is a quarter-size, hard, clay impression of the shell and a great representation of a fossil. And you didn't have to use any toxic materials that can be harmful to children or drains, and clean-up is a BREEZE!  

Hope this helps!  

Week 16 Art
Wood Block Print

I experimented with this until I got the best and easiest result I could find.  Instead of using wood, hammers, and sharp metal objects (yikes!), I went with:

Start this project with each child having:
White Cardstock 1/2 Sheet
1 Foam Sheet
1 Stylus
1 Paper Plate 

Have pairs of students share:  
Dollop of Tempura Paint on Foam Plate
1 Foam Paint Brush

1 brayer per class


Have students "carve" an image in the CENTER of their foam sheet.  Don't fill up the whole sheet.  If they carve words, they must be carved backwards to print correctly.  Ask me how I know.  ;)  

After carving, brush a think layer of tempura paint over the image only.  Do not cover the entire foam sheet.  This will keep fingers and surfaces clean.  

Take painted print and flip it over, pressing it onto a half sheet of white cardstock.  

Roll brayer over the foam print to impress it onto the cardstock as best as possible.  This works so much better than pressing with fingers!  

Pull foam off of paper and you will have a great reverse print on your cardstock!  

You can mount cardstock on an 8.5x11 piece of cardstock for a finished look if you want.  

Week 17 Art

This is the Michelangelo week where we can do upside down painting or a fresco, painting onto plaster.  The fresco called for Plaster of Paris again and while I do want to do the fresco, I again do not want toxic and messy Plaster of Paris in our classrooms.  

So I have found two options for "plaster" to paint on.  Crayola Model Magic or Crayola Air-Dry Clay.

My kids made these samples for us shown above.  I would give each student about 2 oz.  
Our samples were just one ounce and came out the size of a baseball when flattened.  

The top sample is Model Magic.  
Absorbs paint better
Takes days to "harden"
It hardens well enough but doesn't get as dry as the modeling clay.  
It's also pricier.  
Watercolor or tempura paint worked well on these.  

The bottom sample is done with Crayola Air-Dry Clay.  
It doesn't absorb paint as well 
It hardens over night
It's more breakable once dried
It's more affordable
Tempura paints work the best

Either one of these would work fine.  It depends on what paints you already have on hand and what you want to spend, really.  As you can see, our clay piece actually did break. When flattened that thin, they are susceptible to breaking a little.  But that's ok, plaster is too.  Hope this helps!

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Tammy said...

These are great!! Question: any concerns about the young kids using metal stylus? I've never used them - are they sharp? Are you purchasing one for each child or having them take turns? Thank you so much!

J. K. said...

Hi Tammy! The styluses aren't a big worry. There's one in each pack that is more sharp and pointy. I could send those to the older classes. Overall I'm more worried about nails and hammers that were recommended over these. They are like having a pencil in class so not too worried. :) Hope that helps! Also, I got about one for each child. But have classes rotate. So I got enough for two classes even though I have four classes. That make sense?