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Lesson Plans


[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
tgibbons (tgibbons)
Sat, 24 Aug 1996 11:31:56 -0500

The book you mentioned is called "The Simple Screamer" by Dan Reeder,
published by Peregrine Smith Books. It's super! I like the author's
sense of humor and clearly explained instructions. The photos are
excellent and very inspirational to students. Since I've used this
project for several years, I feel as though, I've gotten the teaching of
"screamers" down to a science. Here are few of my own adaptations...Let
me know if anyone has other tips to share!
First off, I have a semester program so I don't want to spend more
than three or four weeks on any one project. Therefore, I like to keep
the screamers even simpler and smaller...particularly with beginners (for
me thats sixth grade). To regulate the size, I give each student a
plastic easter egg, paper clips, and masking tape. The egg can become a
head or body...clips are taped on as support for arms legs tails etc.,
and I always have them attatch a loop for hanging (so they can dry faster
and are up out of the way). We usually spend one or two class periods
creating the armatures.
For the skin, we used to use wheat or flour paste...but I found that
it tended to be lumpy and harder for the kids to apply because they often
manage to get the whole sculpture soggy. Then I found art paste which you
can order as a dry powder. It makes a smooth transparent paste. It's
much nicer but more expensive, so I tried out some dry powder
(transparent) wall paper paste from a local paint store. I couldn't tell
the difference and it was much cheaper. No more bugs and ants in the
flour either.
After the bodies are coated with papier mache, we sometimes finish
off the screamers with a bits of brown paper makes great
wrinkled or leathery skin textures, and hides the newsprint before
painting. For claws and teeth, we use sculpy. The students love to cook
up their own claws and serve up hot eyeballs from the toaster oven. For
eyeballs we sometimes use model magic instead, depending on what happens
to be available. We add these things last as otherwise they seem to fall
off or break. We skip the elmers glue and cloth layer described in the
book as its so messy and time consuming.
For paint, we often use spray or acrylic, and paint the screamers
totally black or some other dark color first. We let the first coat dry
and then sponge color over the surface. That way the crevices stay dark
and the creature looks spookier and more three-dimensional. The book
recommends painting the colors, drying and then washing the entire thing
with thinned black acrylic... I"ve found that middle school kids lose
control more easily this way, so thats why I do it backwards. Also, they
like to use brushes and just paint directly with bright colors and
details like polka dots .
Last but not least, I have them make "flag tags" to title and label
their creatures. For this they use construction paper that they've
sponged paint on. They cut it into twisty flag like shapes that can be
attatched to the hanger or placed in a screamers hand. We put the
creatures name on one side of the flag and the artist's name on the
other. We often display them by hanging them from the ceiling or from
dead tree branches planted in a container. Some times we do them do them
around the holidays and use them as tree ornaments that we call
Nightmares before Christmas. Some screamers end up freestanding, and
some end up bigger. My classes with older students (7th/8th gr.) beg to
create screamers too, so I let them do larger versions or we'll
substitute plaster gauze masks and body parts. Other times we've even
set up our own special effects department where we've designed molds and
created latex masks.
Hope this hasn't become totally boring, I really didn't intend to
write this much.
But at least this has helped me get excited about school starting!