Lesson Plan

Toby Buonagurio, Multi-Winged Bionic Tiger, 1985, ceramic with metallic finish

Lesson plan developed by Rita Yanny, Kegonsa School, Stoughton Area School District, Wisconsin

Grade Level


Summary of Activity

Students will become familiar with art concepts and techniques as they create imaginative sculptures of animals using a variety of materials. Toby Buonagurio’s ceramic sculpture, Multi-Winged Bionic Tiger, is the focus of the lesson. 

Learning Objectives

  • Identify and use forms in sculpture
  • Sketch ideas
  • Use ceramic techniques (modeling, score and slip to attach pieces, texture)
  • Embellish/add creative details to a sculpture

Guiding Question

How do artists transform something ordinary into something extraordinary?

Curriculum Connections

Art, English Language Arts


Day 1: clay, clay tools

Day 2: drawing materials, pencils, paper

Day 3: paint, paint cups, paintbrushes

Day 4: scissors, beads, cloth, feathers, ribbon, sequins, mat board, glue, hot glue (to be used by adult only)

National Gallery of Art online classroom resource on form:


Explain to the students that they will each make a ceramic sculpture of an animal with four legs. They will then transform their animal into something extraordinary by using collaborative and creative approaches.

Show students the sculpture, Multi-Winged Bionic Tiger. Facilitate a discussion about the title and the sculpture, including an explanation of the meaning of the word bionic. Ask the students to describe the sculpture, including its texture, color, and other details and to consider whether the tiger appears to be realistic or ordinary. Ask them to describe how the artist changed or transformed the tiger into something extraordinary, such as by changing the color, adding wings, and using metallic shapes that seem mechanical and may transform what the tiger can do. Ask the students to thing about how they might transform themselves, e.g., at Halloween or Mardi Gras celebrations, playing dress up, wearing costumes. 

Toby Buonagurio made her sculpture entirely from clay. Explain to the students that they will use clay for their animal sculptures and add details, such as a hat, wings, or cuffs using other materials. 


Day 1: Set up a canvas mat. Show students how to make forms from clay. Model forms for the head, body, legs, and tail. Demonstrate how to attach pieces securely (the score-and-slip technique), smooth the surfaces, and add textures such as markings on the animal such as feathers or fur. Scratch the student’s name into bottom of the sculpture. Let the clay air dry and then fire in a kiln. 

Day 2:  Ask the students to look again at the Multi-Winged Bionic Tiger sculpture and recall last week’s discussion. Then, divide the students into small groups to brainstorm ideas for their own sculptures. For example, students may want to think about actual or desired characteristics of their animal. Prompt the students with questions such as, Does their animal move fast or slow? Does it fly, walk, and /or swim? Does their animal have any mechanical parts? Is it playful? How can they show what they want to express? Ask the students to generate ideas about what they might choose to add to their sculptures. Tell them to write and draw these ideas, along with possible material choices, in a sketchbook or on a piece of paper. If time allows, instruct them to complete a finished drawing of their sculpture or to color the sketches of their plans. If needed, set up a station for students who were absent the week before to make a clay sculpture.

Day 3: Students will paint their completed clay sculptures with watered-down acrylic or tempera paint; metallic paint would add an extra flourish. Show the students how to first paint the sculpture one color (base coat), then add different colored markings (dots, stripes, or other patterns or designs) with small paintbrushes.

Day 4: Students will embellish their sculptures with a variety of materials. Strong white glue or hot glue applied with assistance from an adult can be used to attach materials such as cloth and beads to the clay. For stability and strength, glue individual sculptures to a piece of mat board.

Lesson Plan Example

Lesson Plan Example

Lesson Plan Example


Students could:

  • Title their sculptures
  • Create environments for their animals by making dioramas
  • Write stories about their sculptures
  • Compare the process of glazing clay vs. painting and embellishment


  • Modeling materials which air dry or self-harden could be substituted for clay
  • Older students could sculpt wings and other details, and then use underglazes to add color


  • texture how something feels to the touch
  • sculpture works of art that are three-dimensional
  • bionic using artificial parts to increase abilities or powers
  • embellishment adding interest with extra detail or decoration

Common Core Standards

English Language Arts: SL.3.1, SL.3.4, SL.4.1, SL.4.4, SL.5.1, SL.5.4

Wisconsin Visual Arts Standards

D. Practical Applications:  Students will apply their knowledge of people, places, ideas, and language of art and design to their daily lives. Students will:
D.4.6 Use problem-solving strategies that promote fluency, flexibility, elaboration, and originality

E. Visual Communication and Expression: Students will produce quality images and objects that effectively communicate and express ideas using varied media, techniques, and processes. Students will:

E.4.1 Communicate basic ideas by producing studio art forms, such as drawings, paintings, prints, sculpture, ceramics
E.4.4 Communicate ideas by producing visual communication forms useful in everyday life, such as sketches, plans and models

G. Art and Design Criticism: Students will interpret visual experiences, such as artwork, designed objects, architecture, movies, television, and multimedia images, using a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas. Students will:
G.4.1 Know that art communicates ideas

H. Visual Thinking:  Students will develop perception, visual discrimination, and media literacy skills to become visually educated people. Students will:
H.4.4 Create three-dimensional forms with paper, clay, and other materials

J. Cultural and Aesthetic Understanding:  Students will reflect upon the nature of art and design and meaning in art and culture. Students will:
J.4.2 Understand that the choice of materials and techniques influences the expressive quality of art
J.4.5 Begin to understand their own ideas about the purposes and meanings of art
J.4.10 Talk about art in basic terms

L. Visual Imagination and Creativity: Students will use their imaginations and creativity to develop multiple solutions to problems, expand their minds, and create ideas for original works of art and design. Students will:
L.4.1 Use their knowledge, intuition, and personal experiences to develop ideas for artwork
L.4.2 Begin to develop a base of knowledge and skills from which to create new ideas
L.4.3 Explore the role that personal traits, such as independent thinking, courage, and patience, play a part in creating art

Toby Buonagurio (American, b. 1947), Multi-Winged Bionic Tiger, 1985, ceramic with metallic finish, 10½ x 17 x 6½ inches. Gift of Edward T. Minieka, Jr. Collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.

Related Art On Tour Artwork: