Middle Eastern Architecture Project – 5th Grade

Fifth grade artists are wrapping up their study of the Middle Eastern culture this week.  They looked at buildings found in the Middle Eastern culture and duplicated the towers, domes, and decorative tiles in their own architectural drawings.  They created beautiful miniature drawings using ultra fine markers, colored pencils, and crayon.

The final step was tricky, and the results – beautiful!  My students created a “doorway” from a clay slab to frame their drawings.  Their clay pieces included arabesques and geometric patterns that are used as decorative elements in Middle Eastern architecture.  The clay pieces were painted with watercolors and given a coat of Modge Podge for a bit of shine.

Up close look through the door.

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5 thoughts on “Middle Eastern Architecture Project – 5th Grade

  1. These are beautiful. I love this lesson. I was wondering if you fired the frames prior to painting them in watercolor? Or are these made of air dry clay. If so, did they hold up okay? Thanks a bunch!!!

  2. Hi Julia! Thanks – this was a fun lesson. Yes, the frames were fired first and then the kids painted them. The project was tricky – with the opening in the center, the pieces were fragile. We placed the frames on pieces of cardboard while they were drying – made them easier to move and seemed to help them dry flatter instead of curling. The kids also kept them on a piece of cardboard while they painted the frames – worked better than placing them on a hard table surface; less worry about breaking. I sent their finished projects home wrapped between two pieces of cardboard too! I don’t think I would try this with air-dry clay; it seems to crack so easily that I think the pieces would fall apart. Maybe a smaller frame would work though; ours are about 5″x7″. Good luck – would love to see the project if you do it!

  3. Hi! Found your lesson on pinterest. I am wondering how you affixed the paper art onto the back of the frame. Am thinking of teaching a similar lesson to a younger group, but keep going back and forth about how to put things together. Any tips you could give would be great – did you add a cardboard backing? Did you use white glue, hot glue, or something else entirely? Thank you! Angela

  4. Hi Angela! Here are some things that worked well with this project: we actually just taped the pictures onto the back of the frame with masking tape – we did this because some of the kids wanted to use their clay frames as picture frames and mirror frames later; this way they could remove the picture if they chose to. I rolled slabs for this project on my slab roller; I think the frames were about 6×8 inches. I gave the kids a paper template to trace the building onto the clay slab, and then they added embellishments and details (we looked at lots of Middle Eastern architecture for ideas.) These were fragile before and after firing due to the opening in the center; I gave each student an 8×10 piece of cardboard (cut from cardboard boxes) to put their piece on as it dried, and to transport it to their table after it was bisque fired; they left the piece on the cardboard while they painted it and added a modge-podge glaze. I kept reminding them to carry them with both thumbs on top of the frame to keep them from sliding off the cardboard! Using the cardboard as a “cushion” helped keep the clay pieces from getting cracked or dinged while working on them. We also taped the frames between two pieces of cardboard to get them home safely. This was a challenging project for my 5th graders, but they loved the results! We had a lot of nice compliments on the project. Good luck!

  5. Thank you for replying to my comment! I went ahead and taught the self portrait lesson on Saturday. The frames were extremely delicate to work with while wet, but this helped students learn about the properties of the clay, I think. So far it is going well – thanks for the details on how you did it! Also I meant to say that the art you posted above is simply gorgeous. Terrific project!

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