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Cuban roosters.

Symbolism of the Rooster

The rooster is an important symbol in Cuban culture. It represents strength and power. If you are a male, it is considered a compliment to be called a rooster.

A popular rooster toy in Cuba is constructed of two small models made of clay or fabric, each with a long flexible wire attached from the back of each rooster. The wires, often the thickness of a coat hanger, are taped together at the far end. Children manipulate them in a way that is indicative of the cockfights that are now illegal in Cuba.

Jesus Rivera, a folk artist, who is best known for using Cuban symbolism in his ceramics and illustrations, visited our classroom. Senor Rivera described the culture of Cuba to our students while introducing Spanish vocabulary. This was an ideal opportunity to begin to learn the Spanish language. Students learned the names for all the art supplies they were using, as well as basic conversational words.

Creating Cuban Roosters

After examining pictures of roosters and Cuban rooster toys, children identified the basic body shapes of the rooster. Then, using a handful of white clay, they formed the shape of the body, leaving a wide base at the bottom, instead of feet. Children were reminded to carefully mold the base so that the rooster could stand.

We used tacky glue to secure the small wiggle eyes. The eyes and other items can stick without glue, but as the sculpture dries, they often fall out. We used a small piece of yellow or orange pipe-cleaner for the beak, which could be folded in half if an open beak was desired. Small red sequins were used for the crest and the wattle below the beak. Each item was secured with tacky glue.

When the head was completed, each child was given five or six pipe cleaners, 3" (7.5 cm) in length, in assorted colors. After discussing the difference between straight and curved lines, we showed the students how to curve and bend the straight pipe cleaners to create plumes. Each child was then given five or six feather fluffs for the remaining tail feathers to be stuck diagonally in the back of the figure. Children selected two more feather fluffs of the same color for the wings, and attached them to the sides of the rooster. Children wrote their initials on the bottom of the base with a fine-tip black marker.

Students named and wrote stories about their roosters. Our kindergarten artists participated in a show-and-tell at the front of the classroom, explaining how their roosters were unique, and told us the name and personality traits of their new friend. Each rooster was a unique reflection of the child's personality.


Students use art materials and tools in a safe and responsible manner.


* To understand the symbolism of the rooster in Cuba.

* To identify straight and curved lines.

* To understand shape and sculptural form.

* To develop fine motor skills.

* To create a rooster sculpture.

Materials for Twenty Students

* one bucket of white clay

* assorted colored feathers

* red sequins (approximately 150)

* pictures of Cuban rooster toys

* forty tiny wiggle eyes

* pipe cleaners

* fine-point permanent markers

* tacky glue

Cynthia Henn is an art teacher in the Millburn Township Schools in New Jersey.
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Title Annotation:Early Childhood
Author:Henn, Cynthia
Publication:School Arts
Geographic Code:5CUBA
Date:Nov 1, 2004
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