- Students will gain a better understanding of abstract thinking by re-designing an already existing stuffed animal.
- Students will learn basic sewing skills by stitching stuffed animal parts together.
- Students will enhance their language arts skills by creating a written biography page with their animal.
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Step 1: Be Inspired
Take a nice long look at your stuffed animal. Normally it will inspire you and tell you what it wants. Some like to have and added arm or perhaps a frog leg. Each animal is different. I told my students to talk with their friends and decide which body parts they would trade. Once the deals were done, the surgeries began.
Step 2: Begin Surgery
This is the moment when there is no turning back. As professional stuffed animal surgeons, I told my students to try to keep the cuts and amputations clean. A clean incision will always be easier to stitch back together..........So there I was with a class full of 8th grade students cutting up stuffed animals. I'll admit it's kind of twisted but by now I'm numb to it. I figure if I have 8th grade students excited about sewing and stitching up stuffed animals, then I'm doing pretty good for myself.
Step 3: Accept Donations of Body Parts
It's a good idea to keep either a big bag or a bin of sorts to keep the random and unwanted body parts. As homer simpson says "Do nation is the best nation of all nations." Maybe my students are actually learning about being organ donors?? Students can peruse this bag if the want to add anything special to their animal.
Step 4: Stitch Them Back Together
At this point in the project, I do a demonstration on how to start a stitch, run a basic stitch, and then tie it off on the end. I try to use black felt and neon yarn for this so they can see what's going on easier. Regardless of how awesome my demo is, it's still necessary to be completely available to help students start and stop their stitch for the first time.
Step 5: Get Creative and Break the Rules
Creativity is really important to our world and I try to tell my students to push the boundaries in all projects. A leg doesn't always need to replace a leg. A zipper could look cool too. Patches and small accessories like ties can also give your animal a little more character and personality. Who knows? Maybe one or two of my students will make weird critters for Tim Burton one day. At least a teacher can dream!
Step 6: Take Lots of Pictures
Whatever projects we do, I always try to take a lot of photos. Here are 6 examples of some of the best of my 8th graders' work. The first is really abstract and creative and others have simple changes that make them beautiful. The bottom line is that my students' had fun, learned how to stitch, and think abstractly all at the same time. Send my bonus check in the mail!
Step 7: Write a Bio for Your "ugly Mutant Doll"
Isn't it fair to say that we all have issues that we need to overcome? Well, I have my students write a simple 1 page bio story about their Ugly Mutant Doll. These always end up very creative while adding even more personality to each doll. Just within one project we've been creative, learned to sew, used abstract thinking, incorporated writing, and had fun. Everything from Sheepocorns to Giraffephants and Horzebras. Success?? you be the judge.
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