Clay is always a favorite with my seventh grade students. Because of space limitations for storage, these miniature castles are a hit with the classes. Using David Winter's success with miniature architectural models [See photo at right], the kids are introduced to the possibility of creating detail with clay in miniature. This is a good chance to bring in careers in sculpture.
After looking at visuals of castles, students are asked to list possible elements that they could add to a castle... such as roof tiles, bushes, steps up a hillside, bridges on moats, courtyards, etc. After selecting their own rock, and determining the best spot to locate their castle, (they may need to make a clay shim to steady the rock) they proceed to model their miniature castle. Attention is given to detail such as stone, stucco, wood grain, bushes. Because the clay will not adhere to the rock when it dries, clay is kept on 12 x 12 wall boards, with plastic to wrap, to keep it workable for the week.
After firing the clay (minus the rocks), students attach their castles and shims to their rocks with glue. Acrylic paints are used for color, so that the second lesson is a mixing of paint to create colors of grass, stone, water, dirt, etc.