Use clay to make your very own narwhals! This narwhal art project for kids is a great hands-on way to create a really cool and unique ocean animal craft and also makes a fun addition to a unit on arctic animals or sea life. This art project is perfect for kindergarten, first grade and on up!
*This activity meets Next Generation Science Standard Kindergarten: NGSS K-ESS3-1.
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Recently, we used art, science, and literature to learn all about Narwhals in my kindergarten enrichment class!
We started by reading the picture book, Not Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sima. We discussed the main lessons the kids took away from the book after the first reading- to appreciate what makes you special and to accept and value the differences of others. After looking at it again, we also compared and contrasted the different animals in the book, focusing on their various body parts. (I don’t want to spoil it for you, but I love the surprise animal at the end!)
Later we read a nonfiction book about narwhals, Narwhal by Katie Marsico, to learn even more facts about them. We again focused on the body parts of the narwhal- what each body part looked like and how the various body parts help the narwhal.
After learning all about narwhals, we were ready to put all we learned to use by creating our own narwhals out of clay! Below is the method we used to make clay narwhals.
Clay Narwhal Art Project
Materials for Clay Narwhals
- Air-dry clay
- Regular straws
- Cocktail straws
- Optional: Drop cloth to cover your work area, paper plates to keep your narwhal on while it dries
Directions for Making Clay Narwhals
1. Cover your work area. I like using these drop cloths since they can be used over and over. The clay also doesn’t stick to the drop cloth. You can also use newspaper to cover your work surface.
2. Take a large chunk of clay. Use your hands to form the basic shape of a narwhal. Gently use your fingers to form a tail and two flippers. Gently smooth the clay with your fingers as you work. (If you create your sculpture all in one piece, rather than attaching the flippers and tail separately, your narwhal is less likely to fall apart once it dries.)
3. Use a toothpick to draw a face on your narwhal.
4. Now it’s time to make the narwhal’s tusk. To do this use scissors to cut a thin cocktail straw to the desired length for your narwhal’s tusk.
Wrap some clay around the tusk. Gently squeeze and twist the clay around the straw until it’s the thickness you want. Use a toothpick to draw grooves in the tusk. (Leave a bit of the straw sticking out from the clay to press into the head of your narwhal.)
5. Firmly press the tusk into your narwhal. Use your fingers to smooth out where the tusk has joined the head.
6. Use the end of a straw and gently press it into the body of your narwhal to give it texture.
7. Place your narwhal onto a paper plate to dry. Depending on the thickness of your narwhal, it will take about 2-4 days.
Here’s a few of the narwhals created by my kindergarteners!
- If you’ve never cut a block of clay before, the easiest way is to take a strong piece of string or twine and hold it from both ends. Use it to slice the clay into pieces.
- Some children might struggle with forming the tail and flippers. Show them how to press and pull the clay out from the body. They can then gently smooth and shape the pulled out clay.