My fourth graders were so excited to hear that we would finally be working with clay (as any art teacher can tell you, the kids go crazy for clay! They start asking when they get to use it on the first day of school and after they finally get to, they start to ask when they can use it again! I love their enthusiasm). Since I only get to see my fourth graders once a week for an hour at a time, when we work with clay, we need to start and finish the building portion in one class. This lesson is perfect for that!
I told my students we would be making clay monsters from pinch pots and asked them to recall what a pinch pot was and how they made one. I let them walk me through the process of making one during my intro. They were spot on; but I figured they would be, they don't forget anything when it comes to working with clay! Then I told them how we would make our monsters.
First, I would give everyone a clay ball. They would pull off pieces of clay from the ball to form whatever they wanted to attach to their monster (eyeballs, horns, teeth, tails, spikes, etc). They would set these items to the side and roll up the rest of the clay, back into ball form. They transformed their ball of clay into a pinch pot (stick thumb into middle, pinch upward and outward, depending on shape you want). The pinch pot became the monster's body and head (for this project, the head and body are pretty synonymous). They then used the "scratch and attach" method (slip and score) to add their eyeballs, tails, horns, teeth, etc that they had previously constructed. I encouraged them to test out their scratch and attach abilities by giving their monster a little shake while he was upside down--if whatever you attached stayed on, it was attached well; if it fell off, try again!
The kids did a great job! Some of them used the entire hour to create their monster and others finished early. Since they don't get to use clay very often, I let those who finished early play with a little bit of extra clay under the stipulation that whatever they made with the extra clay, they couldn't keep because it would later be used by other kids at our school. They were very understanding of this and were just excited that they were able to keep playing with clay. And as for my kiddos who don't like to get their hands dirty, they opted for free drawing when they finished early.
I let the monsters dry out over the week before putting them in the kiln. Once they were fired, I let the kids paint their monsters (again, this took the entire hour for some kids and only 40 minutes for others) and another week later, we added a gloss varnish over the top of them to give them the glazed look. I love the look and use of actual glaze, but I find that the younger kids work better with paint since glazes don't often look like the color they will turn into once fired--but this lesson could easily be taught either way.
|One full class of monsters|
|Curly Haired Critter (front view)|
|Curly Haired Critter (back view)|
|Another one of my classes monsters|
|This guy makes me smile|
|Last class of monsters|