When I have been faced with this problem (make Doves and Flags for United
Nations Day! or murals for the holiday and spring concerts) I always start
from an art basis. How can I satisfy the requirement and still have the
students do valid artwork. My first way to tackle the project would be to
say that not all center pieces have to be the same. How many do you need?
Could the students work in groups? How about each group designing their own?
What about how Santa is viewed in various cultures? How do you see Santa?
What is he symbolic of (peace, goodwill, toys, presents, etc.) How has Santa
been portrayed in various artworks? What is Santa called in different
languages? The list can go on and on. What if each student designed a
clay(ceramic) Santa. Teach the trapped-air form and have each student design
a Santa for a different climate. What would Santa wear/look like if he lived
on Mars or on the Moon? What are some different ways Santa could get around
if his reindeer got sick? (they could design Santamobiles!)
When I had to do doves (almost 400 last year, down to 140 this year), I used
Picasso's work, "A Vision of Peace", read a book called "The Language of
Doves" and talked about collage/stabiles. When I did flags(grades 2-5) I
talked about the history of flags, the scientific study of flags
(vexillogy!), what the different colors of flags can symbolize and what a
flag stands for! I also incorporated scale, using a ruler and collage.
We all get stuck with this kind of silliness...but...i realized early on, I
only see my students the equivalent of one week during the entire year. I
could not afford to waste one class period making doves, flags or holiday
gifts/aka throwaway projects. Also taking these silly things to the higher
level educates everyone...think of the audience you will have. You could
also work with the students to have them do a written card to accompany the
artwork. Use it as a time to educate....educate....educate!!! It is all in
how you approach this assignment! You could do the toilet paper
roll/construction paper route...but...you could also knock their socks off
with something so amazing and unusual they can only stammer at how incredible
it is!!! I found when I took these assignments seriously and had the
students create serious artwork based on them no one took the work for
granted. It was apparent how much work went into the pieces.