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Egyptian splendor.

No single piece of ancient jewelry can compare with the sparkle and the splendor of the Egyptian collar necklace. Their beautiful patterned designs decorated exquisite burial masks and mummy cases. Figures wearing collars were prevalent on the walls of Egyptian tombs. This piece of jewelry became so common it was considered a part of the ancient Egyptian's dailyi attire, and was worn by both men and women.

Many believed the collar not only adorned the neck, but served as an amulet, or good luck charm. Magic symbols and Egyptian hieroglyphs were often essential parts of the design. Rows of colorful beads and golden pendants were joined together, while gold and more gold served as the common binder for the red, blue and green semi-precious stones.

How could my third grade students possibly recreate the remarkable beauty of these collars? It was easy--they needed cardboard, gold paint, a litte telephone wire, lots of brightly-colored beads and straws, and quite a few sparkling sequins and shiny confetti.

After an overview of Egyptian jewelry, we looked at several printed examples of Egyptian collars. We discussed how repeated shape and color patterns were used to create symmetry. The students then saw the materials that would be available to them--by seeing the materials first, they could plan their collars.

Beginning by drawing a circle, students were instructed to design two or three rows of cardboard shapes, straws and beads. Colored pencils were used to add color. Trays of assorted cardboard shapes were placed at each table. As soon as their designs were complete, students choose their shapes and painted one side with gold acrylic paint. Completing this step during the first class period would allow the students to assemble their collars during the following lesson. When the paint dried, the cardboard shapes were stored in plastic bags.

At the second class meeting, I demonstrated how students would gather the needed materials and organize them into a pattern. Next, they were given the first piece of wire, and the remaining materials were placed in a central area of the classroom.

First, the wire was bent into a circular shape. Starting in the middle, the wire was inserted through an open channel in the cardboard, making sure the cardboard extended downward from the wire. The wire must always be returned to its circular shape as each section is added. Students continued to fill both sides of the first wire symmetrically. Additional wires were given out. Starting in the middle again, the second wire was inserted through the cardboard according to the design.

The students added the straws or beads to the wire before inserting it into the next cardboard shape. Several students chose to add a third wire.

Once the beads, shapes and straws were in place, it was time to add toothpicks to apply a tiny dot of glue to secure each shiny sequin or confetti square to the cardboard shapes. Some accented the middle shape with an Egyptian symbol, while others attached a flat acrylic jewel in the center. As each student completed his or her collar, it was my job to form a hook at the back of each collar using the ends of the first wire.

The students could hardly wait to have these fantastic collars placed around their necks. The sparkle and splendor of Egyptians had been recreated, if only in the eyes of these third grade students.
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Title Annotation:third grade art lesson
Author:Thomas, Barbara
Publication:School Arts
Date:Nov 1, 1993
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