Animal Learning Club

This week we have chosen rabbits and hares as our theme for the week. There are three different challenges; We have a descriptive writing challenge, a maths booklet and an artistic challenge. Lets start with the descriptive writing:

Story setting challenge

Rabbits have featured in several stories, from Beatrix Potter’s Tales of Peter Rabbit, to Watership Down and stories that I personally enjoyed as a child, the tales of Brer Rabbit.

Setting the scene is important in any story. I have modelled some scene setting for two stories where a rabbit is the central character. I have also uploaded some pictures that you could use to help you set and describe your own story scene.

                            Buttercup’s Windmill Adventure
The sun was shining and the sky was a blanket of pure blue. The vast cornfields swayed gently in the warm summer breeze and gave perfect cover for Buttercup against human or predator. The West Walsham Windmill stood proud in the lazy Norfolk countryside, with its strong cylindrical red-brick structure and rocket-shaped roof. The mill was long abandoned and hadn’t ground a grain since the early sixties. A perfect home for harvest mice or Norfolk shrew. And it was here that Buttercup was heading. No set plan or purpose, just pure rabbit curiosity. Little did Buttercup know what adventure would unfold before her.

Willow’s World
In amongst the tangled maze of blackberry thorn and nettle, amid the long spiky grasses and the strangling strands of ivy, was a well-hidden burrow. This was where Willow had set up home for her family. A safe and secure site for her six baby rabbits, surrounded by a feast of foraging opportunities and within a short hop of Brambleside Farm. The farm itself provided a wealth of treats for those who dare venture beyond the comfort zone of the blackberry bushes. Cabbages, carrots, turnips and a herb garden, what more could a rabbit wish for?
The river bank could make a good setting for your story
Or a cornfield?
Or on the farm?
Amongst the wheat?
Or a barn?
Or a meadow

Now for the maths booklet:

For the art challenge we move from rabbits to hares. I found this small sculpture and thought it would be a great model to recreate in clay. I will fill some small bags with potato-sized pieces of clay, that can be collected from the office area if anyone would like to have a go at making a clay hare. A word of warning, clay is fine at home if you have newspaper down on a kitchen table and take care (don’t attempt this whilst sitting on mum’s new sofa… clay can get messy!)

Here’s the original sculpture

Firstly, when you model with clay, it’s important to join any two pieces with something called ‘slip’. (This is just clay broken down with water and helps to bond the clay pieces together). Take a small piece of clay (about large marble or gobstopper size), add a few drops of water and break it down into a clay paste (about the consistency of ketchup or salad cream!) You have now made some slip for joining pieces of clay together!

The hare’s body is almost a ‘long oval’ shape, or a bit like a mini version of a Stonehenge boulder. Here’s a picture showing you the scale compared with a pritt stick. Before you start to model you will need to knead the clay. The potters’ term for this is ‘wedging’. By wedging the clay for a few minutes it helps to get rid of any air bubbles that may be in the clay. If there are air bubbles when your model is fired then it is likely to explode in the kiln, so wedging the clay is an important process before you start your modelling.

For the head, roll a smaller ball of clay and then slightly pinch out the front to give a sort of ‘nose’ shape rather than finishing with a perfect sphere.

To join the two pieces you must ‘cross hatch’ the areas that you intend to attach. This is basically scratching the surfaces (I’ve used cheapest pottery tool, an opened up paper clip). By scratching the surface it helps the slip to bond the two pieces together.

And now it looks something like this with the two pieces joined:

Next, we’re going to attempt the first part of the hind legs (upper hind legs). Create a couple of small oval shapes (a bit like mini eggs)

Then attach them to each side of the body so that it looks something like this:

Now for the lower part of the hind legs. Roll out two small ‘sausages’ of clay:

Attach these underneath the upper hind parts of each leg, pointing forward in front of the body:

Now press a fork on top at the front of each hind leg, to create the texture of the feet!

The forelegs are slightly longer (but only slightly) clay ‘sausages.’

And attach in front of body.

From a different angle:

Now roll out a thin slab with your remaining clay and cut out a couple of hare ear shapes!

Attach the ears and then add a little bobtail at the back!

Make the ears point slightly outwards.

If you want a smooth finish then you can tidy your model up with a thin paintbrush and water to make it really smooth. If you prefer a rough texture, like the original model, then you might create some marks on the body using a simple tool (such as a lolly stick) to press in some element of texture!

PLEASE NAME (or initial) your hare on the underside of the model, so that we know which one is yours once they’ve been fired!

Good luck. If you bring your model hares in then I’ll fire them in the school kiln and you can go on to paint them.