Terracotta Garden Lighthouse Project

This project comes from my 7 Wonders of the World summer elementary program curriculum, which I will be sharing more about soon! The topic at hand is the Lighthouse of Alexandria, a marvel of the ancient Egyptian world. After reading a few books about the lighthouse and making a study of lighthouses in general, this is a fun collaborative project for a variety of ages that results in a beautiful piece for a schoolyard or garden.

Materials Needed:

  • Terracotta flower pots in three sizes- small, medium, large.
  • Two terracotta plant saucers- large and small
  • Acrylic paints- you’ll want genuine acrylic and not washable tempera if you intend to keep your lighthouse outside. Otherwise tempera should be fine.
  • Paintbrushes
  • A small solar-powered garden light
  • E6000 epoxy (or similar heavy-duty adhesive)

Prepare the Project:

  1. Lay down butcher paper or newspaper to protect your work surface.
  2. Set out paintbrushes.
  3. Squirt paint into small cups or onto trays (paper plates are my go-to).
  4. Space the pots (upside-down) and saucers out around the workspace so they’re easily accessible by everyone participating.
  5. It’s helpful to spread some photos of different kinds of lighthouses around the work space for inspiration.

Make Some Art:

  1. It’s as simple as painting the pots however you like! This can be a great exercise in collaboration if you’re working with multiple kids. Are they all going to cooperate to keep consistent colors/patterns, or will it just be a free-for-all? Some kids like to add windows and doors to give the lighthouse a realistic look, and others like to cover it in dinosaurs and dragons. :)
  2. You may need to clarify which parts of the pots need to be painted- the inside of the pots won’t be visible, so you can leave them plain. Make sure your artists understand that the pots will be displayed upside-down. The “tops” (actually the bottoms of the pots) will also not be visible. The outside rim and the top of the small saucer will be visible, and only the outside rim of the large saucer.
  3. Leave the pots to dry- anywhere from 2-24 hours depending on paint thickness.
  4. In a well-ventilated area, place a thin line of E6000 epoxy around the bottom of the rim of the large pot, and place it firmly over the large saucer.
  5. Place a thin line of epoxy around the inside rim of the medium pot, and place it firmly over the top of the large pot.
  6. Place a thin line of epoxy around the inside rim of the smallest pot and place it firmly over the top of the medium pot.
  7. Place a thin line of E6000 epoxy around the top rim of the smallest pot, and place the plant saucer on top.
  8. Glue the solar light on top. How you accomplish this may vary depending on what kind of light you find. We found small garden stake solar lights at the Dollar Tree, and we were able to easily pop the light off of the stake and glue it onto the plant saucer.
  9. Make sure the epoxy has set well enough that the lighthouse won’t fall apart, and leave it to cure in an undisturbed place.

Extensions:

  • Draw up “plans” first for how the finished lighthouse should look. Get your group collaborating ahead of time so they begin the painting portion with a plan in mind.
  • To teach a more thoughtful process, have the kids pencil their designs onto the pots before painting.
  • You can easily make individual mini lighthouses with single small pots- use a medium saucer for the base.

Pssst… have you signed up for your FREE art project download yet?

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