I love working with clay.  I love the feel of it, as it squishes between your fingers or under your hands.  I enjoy its forgiveness.  If I screw something up, I just start over.  If it gets hard, I add water.  If it is too soft, I let it dry out.  Because it is so fun to use, I enjoy trying new things with it and my students have really come a long way in the three years I’ve worked with them and clay.

I feel fortunate working with the younger grades for clay as there is a definite learning continuum involved and each concept builds on the one before… I guess this is true with every art concept, but clay really stands out in this area for me.

I usually start with pinch pots, then slab rolling in Kindergarten.  Students make coasters using a rolling pin, a round wooden disk, and a cutting knife.  They add texture using rubber stamps.

In first grade, I continue with these concepts, but I add score and slip to the mix.  The students learn how to add handles, incorporate more texture options, and experiment with glazes.  I added an abstract art piece into the mix last year, and I really like this because it allows the students a little more creativity.

We discuss the artist, Henry Moore, and the students have a lot of fun coming up with three dimensional sculptures that really don’t need to look like anything, and yet, do.   Fun.


In second grade, we do pinch pot monsters.  This is where score and slip really becomes concrete in students’ minds.  They hate it when their monster’s eyeballs have fallen off or fangs fall out of mouths before/in the kiln.  Students are always shocked and sad. They insist they scored and slipped.  Blah, blah, uh huh.  I know the truth.  They know the truth, and by third grade, they know the importance of this step in making their creation.


Forgot to take a photo after firing…. next time.

I tried something new this year for grade three.  We made coil pots.  I had never done this before, let alone teach it to children.  I was quite surprised at what they did.  The students really went out of their way and created some amazing things. They got a lot of their ideas from Google images, and they really outdid themselves.  They were so excited to see their end products.  I felt bad telling them they wouldn’t be able to take them home until after the art show next week, but the work is so good, we have to show it off. Again, no post firing pic! I’ll get it done for the art show.


Next year will be a challenge for clay.  I am moving to a new classroom, and will not have the same resources as this year.  Carpet in my room, only one sink, and no quick access to the kiln.  We’ll see how it unfolds.

Author: Sonia Chapman

I am an art teacher, living in the Middle East, following my passion for art, teaching little children about the finer things in life, and loving every bit of it.

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