Friday, June 26, 2015

Sub Plan: Create a Fantasy Coffin

For this course that I am taking, Expanding the Classroom Walls, we have been asked to make a lesson.  One of the lesson plan ideas that I would like to share is inspired by the piece below found at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.  How cool is this?  Can you guess what it is?

It's a coffin!!

I know!  Amazing.  I had no idea. 

Screenshot from a the MIA

I wanted to see if there was more 'fantasy coffins' so I did a Google search and it brought me to,  Ghanaian Coffins Website.  WOW there are a ton!  One can be buried in an animal, a show, a coke bottle and so on.  On the National Museum of Funeral History,  The coffins have been explained in this way,

"Ever seen a coffin made to resemble a chicken? How bout a Mercedes Benz? A lobster? A Life Well Lived: Fantasy Coffins- Kane Quaye displays 12 coffins, 
each uniquely created to capture the essence of the departed - whether a character trait, an occupation, or a symbol of one's standing in the community.
This one-of-a-kind exhibit includes coffins of a KLM airliner, Mercedes Benz, fish, canoe, leopard, chicken, bull, crab, eagle, lobster, shallot and Yamaha outboard motor. Brightly colored and intricately designed, these wooden coffins were crafted by Ghanaian sculptor Kane Quaye (also known as Seth Kane Kwe) in his homeland of Accra, Ghana.
Quaye began crafting these Fantasy Coffins more than 30 years ago at his dying uncle's request for a special coffin. Because his uncle was a fisherman, Kane built him a coffin in the shape of a fishing canoe. The result was met with a highly favorable response from the local community, and Kane opened his own workshop to produce personalized coffins, a craft he elevated into high art. For example, the leopard coffin signifies a person with power, such as a tribal or political leader. The chicken, a frequent subject of proverbs in Akan culture, often represents a mother who is protective of her children.
To the people of Ghana, death is not an end, but a transition to the spiritual realm of the ancestors. In fact, ancestors are forever considered members of the family. It is believed that if the deceased is properly honored, such actions secure spiritual favor for the family left on earth. As a result, burial practices among the Ghanaian are often lavish, with customized coffin centerpiece. Although one of these sculpted coffins may cost an average year's salary in Ghana, families and communities often band together to make such a purchase possible. This is believed to protect the well-being of the deceased in the after-world. These fantasy coffins continue as a tradition in Ghana today and have been commissioned by people from around the world."

This would be very fun lesson for your students and could be extended to any length.  I plan to use this as a sub plan.

Fansy Coffins

Objective: To design and engineer a fantasy coffin.
Ages intended for: K-12th grade.

  1. First have students brain storm objects or animals that represents them.  Perhaps fold a paper in half and write an object/animal on the left side and the reason why it represent them on the left.  Get many ideas and make this a social process, allowing students to talk amongst each other.
  2. Show one image of a coffin and allow students to guess what the picture is.  
  3. Show coffins from the MIA and Ghana, talk about the origin of these fantasy coffins (some information and links above)
  4. Ask students to design a coffin for themselves.  They can use the object/animals that they brainstormed before.  They must draw their coffin from 3 angles (top view, side few and an open view) Encourage students to be detailed.
  5. If time remains, students can color their design, create another one for friends, family members, or pets. Or their can be a pair and share for their creations. 
Feel free to use the worksheet provided below (click here

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