Places Mythological Characters and…Action!Tuesday, November 8, 2016


South Huntington Grade 4 teachers recently collaborated with visual artist Lucienne Pereira on a Mythology unit. The teachers ask the teaching artist to design a hands-on project that would not only re-inforce what the students were learning about mythology, but also deepened their understanding of its characters. Ms. Pereira guided the students in the creation of characters from a familiar myth and the retelling of the myth.


In the first session, Ms. Pereira introduced the students to artist Alexander Calder’s “The Circus” (below). The artwork consists of miniature characters and props made with wire and other materials. The teaching artist explained to the students that they would be using Calder’s wire sculpture techniques to create characters in the myth entitled Theseus and the Minotaur.



To begin the project, students picked the name of a character in the myth from a grab bag. Ms. Pereira then described each characters’ attributes (below). She discussed the character’s role and purpose, as well as the physical qualities that the wire sculpture would need to be represented.



Next, Ms. Pereira provided boxes of materials for making the characters. She demonstrated how to create different parts of the sculpture, such as the face, hair and arms (below). “Throughout the sculpture making process, we continued to discuss the myth’s characters and their attributes,” reports Ms. Pereira. “We considered things like size, color, clothing and props. The class demonstrated a familiarity with the story during our discussion.”




Students collaborated throughout the project (below). They helped each other make decisions about how they would represent their character’s personality and physical traits in a sculpture. They shared materials and helped each other with the challenging tasks of forming the figures. Through their discussions and design choices, they further demonstrated their deep understand of the myth’s characters.



The classroom teachers (below) worked in partnership with the teaching artist, helping the students realize their characters.




Once the characters and props were created, the students prepared for myth’s retelling. Earlier in the residency, the students had seen a performance of MytholoJazz performed by David Gonzalez. They were inspired by Mr. Gonzalez’s retelling of another myth, Orpheus and Eurydice.


When the students were ready to retell the myth, Ms. Pereira provided a map depicting Athens, Crete and the sea—the myth’s setting (below). While some students narrated the story (along with the teaching artist), others acted out the characters’ different roles. The children also helped tell the myth by creating sound effects, such as the wind, the waves, the fights, crying, and laughter.





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