Art/Social Studies (Day 8)
1. The students will be able to describe the process of making scrimshaw
and its history.
2. The students will be able to thoughtfully, individually construct their own
3. The students will be able to reflectively respond in writing to their soap art.
- Scrimshaw was first developed on New England whaling ships in the 1820’s.
However, the Eskimos began to make scrimshaw art in the late 1880’s.
1. How to Scrimshaw and Carve Ivory by Blackie and Michael Collins
2. Ivory soap bars (at most, two for each student)
3. Small snow/ice removers (usually used to clean windshields)
4. Tacks (from bulletin boards), push pins, and other relatively sharp objects
5. Old newspapers
6. Small paintbrushes
7. India ink
1. Explain that scrimshaw is the art of engraving designs on whale or walrus
bones and teeth. Describe its history, using the information from How to
Scrimshaw and Carve Ivory.
2. Show the students pictures and examples of scrimshaw from How to Scrimshaw
and Carve Ivory.
3. Distribute the scrimshaw materials.
4. Have the students scrape the word off their Ivory soap bars so that each
student has a smooth surface
5. Have the students sketch the pictures they want to make with a pencil on all
sides of the soap bar except the bottom. (On the bottom they must engrave
their full name.) When they are happy with their designs, they can use the tools
to engrave their picture.
6. After the students have engraved their drawings, instruct the students to go to
the “Inking Station” (a table covered with old newspapers) and quickly apply
India ink onto their drawings, making sure to get the ink in the grooves. Instruct
the students to quickly and gently wipe off excess ink so that it mostly stays in
- The students can choose to write poems, short stories, or descriptions about
their scrimshaw art.
- Students who finish the scrimshaw early may have more soap bars to use to
create soap carvings. These carvings must be related to Alaska in some way
(examples: animals, Eskimos, etc.).
- Mark (with a + or -) in the grade book whether or not students gave good effort
and made creative scrimshaw and/or soap carvings.
- Informally assess, by writing anecdotal notes, whether or not students are on-task.
Lesson Plans Unit Outline Social Studies Lessons