Snakes on the Plains
Tactile Exploration of Patterns and Colors of North Texas Snakes
Meets the learning standards for grades 4-5 (can be adapted)
Media Type: Salt Clay
Fine Arts, Science, English Language Arts and Reading
Formal Lesson Plan & TEKS Information
Check out this Creature Feature from our friends at the River Bend Nature Center in Wichita Falls!
Have you ever seen a Bull Snake like the one in the video? What other snakes can learners name that are native to the area? Let’s learn about native snakes for this project by clicking here. Select a specific native snake to research. How do they move? What do they eat? Where do they live?
Materials: wax paper or parchment paper, rolling pin or any cylindrical object,) slicing tool (many options here, such as a small paring knife, a metal spatula, or even a strong piece of string or wire,) Victorian Salt Clay (see easy, microwavable recipe here), food coloring or acrylic paint, straight edge (optional).
We’re going to use colored clay to create our own snakeskin inspired designs. Identify 3-4 colors you will need to use in your designs.
Spread out wax paper to use as the work surface and instruct learners to divide the microwavable Victorian Salt Clay into smaller portions, and dye it the desired color by adding food coloring or acrylic paint. The paint makes a big mess, but once it is fully mixed in it stops being messy.
Consider the pattern you want to create and begin forming small balls to arrange in your design.
The different balls of clay should all be similar height and need to be arranged closely. They do not have to be an exact fit.
Once you’ve completed laying out your design, lay another piece of wax paper over clay and gently press the paper down to secure it.
Now it’s time to use the rolling pin or cylindrical object to roll out the design. Experiment with rolling direction and pressure until you have rolled it out to approximately 1/8-inch, uniform thickness.
TAH-DAH!! Remove the top layer of wax paper and admire your work. How was your design distorted by the rolling process? How does this project reflect what you observed about the designs on snakes?
Allow the project to air-dry on a flat surface. What other patterns and designs could you make using this technique?
Here is a video demonstrating how to make multi-colored rings for more complex patterns: