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Cha-cha-cha Chia! 8th grade art students embark on a Chia Pet pottery adventure

It’s been a trip down the 1980s lane for 8th grade art students at Centennial Middle School as they recreated the iconic figurine, the Chia Pet.

Art teacher, Emily Cole was looking for a unique pottery assignment for her students and came upon the Chia Pet Project.

“I wanted a unique project for our pottery segment,” Cole said. “The chia pet project combined clay work and childhood nostalgia. I mean, who doesn’t remember the old Chia Pet commercial?” To kick the project off, she even showed the retro commercial to her students.

Aiming to teach her students three hand-building techniques of pottery, they also had to master the hollow-form technique, as their clay structures needed to hold water for the chia seeds to sprout. Other than these parameters, the students were given creative freedom to construct anything they desired for their chia pets using terracotta clay. From animals to abstract shapes, the classroom transformed into a hub of imagination.

The project not only allowed the students to hone their pottery skills but also encouraged them to think outside the box, fostering a sense of artistic expression.

“My favorite part of this project was the creativity and the design aspect,” said Rylee Allred, an 8th grade art student. “It was fun to use our imaginations and bring them to life.”

Once the basic structures were formed, the students applied texture to the surface of their clay creations, carefully considering where the chia seeds would be planted. The soon-to-be Chia Pets then went through the firing process in the kiln, ensuring durability and strength.

“One of the hurdles we faced was making sure the structures were water-tight,” Cole said. “Terracotta was a new clay for us, and we wanted to make sure the water would hold to grow the chia seeds.”

Meanwhile, the lesson of chia pets took a deeper dive into what a chia seed is. Students learned about the nutritional value of the tiny powerhouses, discovered how to plant them, and explored the growth process to get the most out of their Chia Pets.

“We learned that chia seeds are edible, and you can replace them with eggs when baking,” shared 8th grade student London Jones.

As the clay creations were ready and the chia seeds planted, the class borrowed a grow light from the science department to facilitate optimal growth. The countdown to witnessing their Chia Pets sprout was on. The students saw chia seed growth in around four to five days.

The Chia Pet pottery adventure not only allowed these 8th graders to explore their artistic abilities but also provided a learning experience touching on history, biology, and even culinary arts. The innovative approach to teaching art has undoubtedly left a lasting impression, nurturing creativity, and fostering a love for learning in the classroom.