Art projects inspired by the artefacts and architecture of ancient Greece can make learning about culture and history more interactive and engaging for children. Sixth-grade students are of an age where they can begin applying ideas of geometry to their artwork, as well as how to use art to interpret the stories and history lessons they have learnt. The following projects can be used in both art and history classrooms to explore students' creativity along with important aspects of Greek civilisation.
Mythology Poster Art
Greek mythology can fascinate children with its stories of powerful gods, incredible heroes and strange creatures. Have students prepare posters illustrating a specific story or character from these myths, such as one of Hercules' Twelve Labors or Medusa. Art techniques including collage, drawing and painting can be utilised in their work. Students then can present their posters to the class and explain what drew them to choose the subject.
Geometric Pottery Patterns
Pottery is one of the main art forms surviving today from ancient Greece. For this project, introduce the history of Greek pottery and how it evolved through different historical eras, showing students examples of the geometric patterns used to decorate early Greek pottery. Students then can use black and orange construction paper to design their own Greek vases. The basic shape of the vase should be drawn on and cut out from orange paper and glued to a black paper background. Each student will devise his own decorations for the vase based on geometric patterns inspired by historic Greek examples or his own imagination. Rulers and pencils should be used to block in and measure the designs before finalising them with black markers.
Later-period Greek pottery often illustrated stories or myths instead of simply being decorated by geometric patterns and random figures or animals. After showing examples of Greek story vases, have students choose simple stories or events to illustrate on their own Greek-style vases. Drawings should be planned in advance on paper and cut out to a size to fit around a large styrofoam cup. These drawings can be worked on over several classes until finalised and glued to the cups. The colours can then be filled in with watercolour or poster paint.
Greek Ruins and Architecture
Introduce the history and development of Greek architecture and how it influenced the ancient Romans and can still be seen in our ideals of building structure today. Show examples of Greek ruins and how the buildings originally are thought to have appeared. Provide children with simplified line drawings of the ruins of an ancient Greek temple or other structure, such as a row of columns or an archway. Students should then use their imagination and knowledge of Greek architectural ideals to fill in what the building might have looked like when first constructed.
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