How did the “Bear Chair” project evolve?
A year ago, I came across this printmaking art activity on Pinterest.
I absolutely fell in love with the project, but I just could not bring myself to actually put paint on the bear’s face and smash him on a piece of paper. So, the bears sat in my room. At first, they sat on a high shelf. Then, I put them on a low shelf by the hermit crabs. Finally, I had an idea. I have one particular fourth grader, Brant, and he is very talented with building things. I decided that his class could build chairs for the bears. The project took about four weeks to complete. There was friendly discussions, unfriendly discussions, and no discussions. The Bear Chair project is one of my most favorite projects ever. Please have a look at the bear chairs. They are very different, but all started out with the same supplies.
I divided the students into groups of 4. I knew all of the students well and arranged the groups according to ability and personality.
I gave the students the following information on a sheet with the Bear Chair Guidelines.
I gave the students 5 rolls of tape and 5 large paper towel rolls.
Bear Chair Guidelines:
You are to use the 5 rolls of tape and 5 paper towel rolls to build a chair that the bear can sit on.
The bear chair should be no taller than 12 inches.
The bear chair should be no wider than 12 inches.
The bear must fit into the chair.
The chair must support the bear.
Week 1-Build the Chair
Week 2-Paper Mache the Chair
Week 3-Paint the Chair a Base Color
Week 4-Add Final Details and Touch-Up the Bear Chair
When working with a group, decisions must be made. For this group of fourth graders, they had to be willing to consider the thoughts and ideas from others. As the project moved along, the groups began to communicate in a more positive way. Although they did not always “get their way,” they did have a mutual respect for each group member.
The Rolling Stones said it best in “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”