Charlotte Gainsbourg’s song Greenwich Mean Time planted the seed for wanting to make a crooked house. If you listen to the lyrics, you’ll find the song’s inspired by this old English nursery rhyme:
There was a crooked man and he walked a crooked mile,
He found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile.
He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse.
And they all lived together in a little crooked house.
This had me wandering about the internet for examples of unusual and crooked architecture, of which there is plenty. You can view some amazing images here: UNUSUAL ARCHITECTURE .
- air hardening modeling clay like Jovi or Das (500 g)
- sculpting tools
- small bowl with water
- acrylic paint (optional)
If you don’t have sculpting tools, you can improvise and use things like wooden skewers, toothpicks, a kitchen knife, pencils, etc.
I would recommend a 500 gram pack of clay per child. I experimented with Dollerama’s brand and found the clay very wet and therefore not great for this project, which requires vertical sections for walls. Das may cost more, but it’s drier and holds it shape much better. If you find it’s drying too quickly as you’re working, you can keep a bowl of water handy to dip your fingers in and moisten the clay slightly. Clay can be purchased in white, grey, and terracotta, so make sure you use white clay if you’re going be painting your house. The colours will be brighter on a white base.
Have a look at some unusual and crooked architecture that I have provided, or on the internet. You can print images up for children so they can select elements which they might want to incorporate in their own crooked house.
How children work with the clay will depend on their design. I cut sections for the walls, joined two together and cut out windows before adding the other two sections and the roof. I then gently applied pressure to create a curved shape. Finally, I added details like roof spikes, dots, and vines.
If you decide to paint your crooked little house, it will need to dry for 24 hours before using your acrylics.
The Little Crooked House by Margaret Wild & Jonathan Bentley
The Mystery At The Crooked House by Gertrude Chandler Warner
IRM by Charlotte Gainsbourg