Creative Adaptations- an integrated unit

What does Mickey Mouse the Monster Pirate have to do with a unit on adaptation?

Central Idea: Living things adapt to survive
Conceptual Lens: Interactions, Creativity
Level of Integration: 3

The challenge: Grade 3 artists needed to demonstrate their understanding of adaptation and clay skills by creating their own ceramic creature that had somehow adapted to their environment (real or imaginary) to survive.

Class 1: Clay play I went over basic clay techniques and children were given a 45 min block to experiment with clay, with the knowledge that we'd recycle whatever they made.

Class 2: Pinch Pots Every child created a pinch pot along with me, most were able to make them on the first try but some needed a few attempts.  Names and classes were etched in the bottom and all pots were sprayed with water and stored on a lunch tray covered in a garbage bag. The pinch pot would later be the body of whatever creature they decided to make.

Class 3: Provocation I purposely waited to do the provocation until the unit had already started in the homeroom, so students would already have an idea about what an adaptation is. We started with a Thinking Routine called Claim Support Question.  I showed multiple images of mixed up animals and encouraged them to reason with evidence-- where might this creature live?  What adaptations does this creature have in order to live in its environment?

Class 4: Planning I started by showing the kids how the positioning of a pinch pots can impact what the final piece will look like:

Then I asked we had a discussion about creating our very own creatures and where they might live--- outer space? under the kitchen table?  in a swamp? Santa's Village? ....then we thought about what adaptations a creature needs in order to survive in that environment.  Students then filled in a planning sheet for their creatures.

Class 5/6: Create! Students were introduced to "score and slip" and worked on taking their art from pinch pot to a unique creature.  Most needed two 45 min blocks to complete this part.

Class 7: Embellishments Once the pieces were bisque fired, students painted with acrylic paint.  They chose one "base color" and covered the whole piece with it to start.  Once their base color was complete they could add other colors as they wished.  Once the paint was dry, many students chose to add glitter, feathers, sequins, etc. Some students even sewed clothes for their creatures at the Fibers Center or constructed cardboard beds at the 3D Construction center.

Class 8: Reflections/ Taking it Further 

If students had extra time, they took photos of their creature and used the Bazaart app to create an imaginative collage starring their creature. Many chose to imagine themselves interacting with their creations.


  1. Very cool idea to show casing their work. Love it!


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