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middle school ceramics - soft cut blocks


From: Judy Decker (jdecker_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sun Apr 27 2003 - 12:34:54 PDT

Make a ceramic game board with stamped designs - Royal Game of Ur
Social studies and math integration (sixth graders study Ancient Middle

Dennis posted this link today to ArtsEdNet:

Soft-cut squares - cut 1 1/4" (one inch erasers could be used), lino cutting
Clay, rolling pins, canvas cloth, 3/8" guide sticks, clay tools
(needles/knives for cutting out slabs)

There is a 5000 year old game that was found in the ruins at UR. Students
can learn how to play the game online (uses shockwave). The game is very
easy to play - and rules are simple. It does involve a little math strategy.
Then they can make their own game. Each table of students would have
different set of appox. 1 1/4" square stamps. One person at each table
would have to make the Rosette square (the safe square and get a free
turn) - the rest of the stamps could be any pattern. Students would make
their stamps out of Soft-cut (or use linoleum squares or scratch foam
squares). You can make a template for the game itself. - approx 5" x 12"
(you can make the template using graph paper - allowing 1/4 inch between
each stamp). Have students roll out a long slab big enough for the
template - then stamp their game board being very careful to put the rosette
stamps in the correct positions (five free squares in all). Eight stamps
long and three stamps wide. Then cut out the game and put on wood board to
dry (use a paper separator). Make game pieces and dice out of clay (the
actual dice found were triangular in shape). Students would put one dot on
three sides of a clay cubes for the dice - since one dot is all that is used
(need four dice). They could make their own game pieces too - 7 discs for
each player (or they could use two different colors of buttons). Once the
game boards are fired - they can color the patterns of the rosettes with
markers and color one set of game pieces with marker. Give the board a stain
of brownish black to antique it - color the spaces between the stamped
designs and then clear coat. To make it easier on yourself - you can make
the game pieces and dice out of self hardening clay so those wouldn't need
to be fired. If you chose to use firing clay - - fire the game pieces on top
of the student's game boards (student names will be on the bottom of the
game board) I suppose you could put initials on the bottom of the playing

While they are waiting for the game boards to dry and be fired - they can do
a printmaking project using the soft-cut squares - creating different kinds
of patterns.

Alternate game method - Make game board out of heavy cardboard (mat board or
corrugated cardboard) and game pieces out of Sculpy or self hardening clay.
Stamp print the designs onto the game board.

Here are links to more information about the game: (path for moving the pieces is
different) (has more game
Since it is unknown exactly how the game was played - students can read
through the directions given on these sites and then come up with their own
set of rules. The online Shockwave game differs slightly from the
instructions found on these sites.

I think I will write this up as a lesson plan for IAD.... Please post other
ideas you have to introduce art of Ancient Middle East to your students.

Judy Decker