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Evenings for Educators Preview: Zoomorphic Tiles

by Melanie Greiner


Teacher resources , zoomorphic tiles , Evenings for Educators

Evenings for Educators is the museum’s monthly teacher development program. Each event features two teachers (one Elementary and one Secondary) who create and implement a lesson plan in their classroom. Attendees get a copy of that lesson plan in their folders the night of the program and also have the chance to ask the Museum Teachers questions. Each lesson references artwork from the museum’s permanent collection, ties into the theme of the program and incorporates visual art with another discipline. Please enjoy this sneak peek of the Secondary Lesson plan by September museum teacher Sue Diemer.


Students explored the use of calligraphy and its many uses in the Islamic world in our unit on Zoomorphic Calligraphy. Zoomorphic calligraphy are the designs that create the shape of an animal through the layout of the calligraphic writing. It was used on architecture and objects of everyday use in the Islamic world, but my 7th-grade students focused on creating a clay tile for display in their rooms or homes.  

Students chose an initial in their name (first, middle or last) and created an animal using the main shape of their letter. Sketches were created to guide their clay process. After deciding on a final sketch, students rolled out a 7 x 7 in. clay slab for their main tile piece then used additive and subtractive clay processes to create their Zoomorphic animal.  Tiles will be glazed using a light, medium and dark glaze color and then fired in the kiln. Finished products will be displayed in the hallway for the rest of the student body to enjoy our Zoomorphic Calligraphy. Some animals are clearly defined by their letter while others are not. It takes an artistic eye to decipher our Zoomorphic Calligraphy! Can you figure out which letter is shown?