One of the first places I had my 3rd graders "travel" to was India. Indian elephant projects are all over Pinterest (via here, here, and here) which gave me a good idea of what I wanted to do.
I Cans Statements: I Can tell you something about India. I Can plan designs for my elephant and use them when creating my elephant. I Can create an elephant inspired by the Holi Festival in India.
Day 1: Intro to India, passport, and elephant planning.
We started by looking at the flag, looking at India on a map (love using google for this because it becomes interactive) and determining if it's closer to China or the United States. Then we move on to the 5 facts!
1. India has 1.2 billion people, the United States has 320 million and is larger in area.
2. Because of pollution, breathing the air in Mumbai, India, for just one day, is almost the same as smoking 100 cigarettes.
3. 70% of the world's spices come from India.
4. The Hindu festival of Holi celebrates the victory of good over evil.
5. Elephants are very important to India because of India’s cultural history and Hinduism.
I try to mix in religion, interactions with other parts of the world, and something mind blowing in the facts. That way, I'm giving a bigger span of information for them to connect to and giving them something to remember. I always use the last fact to branch into our project.
We looked at photographs of Elephants embellished and painted for Holi and talked about how people might feel about doing this to animals and watched clips of the Elephants...
After they filled out their passport page, they started planning out how they were going to decorate their elephants using this sheet...
Day 2: Creating the elephant.
Before we kicked off the day I showed this for a little inspiration...
Did a draw along for the Elephant on 3 different sizes of construction paper. A full 12x18 for the head and trunk (no ears), a 12x12 for the body, and a 12x6 folded in 1/2 for the ears. I had the sheet below for them to follow along with or work independently.
After drawing the pieces out the rest of the time was theirs to cut, glue, and continue planning.
Day 3 & 4: Designing and Embellishing. Passport wrap up.
They spend the next two classes using oil pastels to design their elephants and a bunch of fun things to add some glitz and glam. Their goal when designing their elephant was to actually use their sketches. I really emphasized this and actually included it in their grade. For the embellishing I had three areas set up with trays of all different things they could use and tacky glue. We really spent a lengthy amount of time talking about how sometimes "less it more", a concept easily forgotten in Elementary School.
Their last job was to complete their passport for India.