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Level: Primary, Junior, Middle School, High School
Grades: K and up | Age: 5yrs and up | Written by: Lauren Geggus
[Laura is in the Art Education program at Illinois State University]

Kids can learn how to make coil pots out of clay.

Art Concept:

Cultural Influences on Art Forms

Artmaking Processes and Techniques:

coil and slab building technique

Art Elements/Principles of Design:

form, shape, line, balance, and color


Making an art form using processes and techniques influenced by those of a specific culture can help one to better understand that culture as well as be more sensitive to other cultures in general. Incorporating one's own personalized designs provides the opportunity for individual expression. Learning about the roles of the artists and crafts people in the context of their cultures helps one to better understand the contribution of individuals to that culture.


As a result of this unit, students will:


Historical/Cultural Criticism Aesthetics


demonstrate a willingness to learn about other cultures by positively contributing to the discussion at least twice during the lesson.


Artmaking Historical/Cultural: Also See: KinderClay - All about Clay!


teacher examples, slides, and books

Student Prerequisite:

limited experience with hand building

Instructional Methods:

Examples of ceramics (transparencies and slides) will be shown and discussed. Brief written history of functional pottery will be presented. Teacher demonstration. Hands-On student involvement. Group discussion.

What You Need:
What You Do:

Day 1


(Teacher Directed)

  1. "What is clay?"
  2. Where does it come from?
  3. How do we use clay or how did/do other cultures use clay in their everyday lives?
  4. Show examples of containers.
  5. Describe the different images of containers and the cultures that built them.

(Teacher Directed):

  1. Demonstrate how to form a coil.
  2. Demonstrate how to cut out a slab for the container's base, using a circle template and how to attach a coil to a slab by pinching.
  3. Demonstrate how to add a handle. (Optional)
(Guided Practice)
Students will:
  1. Use their hands to roll out a coil from a strip of clay.
  2. Trace a circle template on top of a slab to create the base of the container.
(Independent Practice)
Students will:
  1. Build up a container by attaching coils to the circular slab.

Day 2

(Teacher Directed)
  1. After clay containers are dried and fired, students will glaze their artwork.
  2. Demonstrate how to use brushes when applying glaze to the ceramic container. (Always dab!)
(Independent Practice)
Students will…
  1. Apply glaze to their container, using specific dab technique with the brush.
  2. Work on sketchbooks for the remaining time


(Teacher Directed):
  1. How did we create our container? What hand building techniques did we use?
  2. What could our containers be used for?
  3. Can functional containers be considered art?
  1. What new art words did we learn?
  2. What can containers be used for?
  3. How do different cultures use containers?


Acero, R. (2001). Making ceramic sculpture. New York: Lark Books.
Hawkinson, J. (1974). A ball of clay. Chicago: Albert Whitman & Co.
Weisman Topal, C. (1988). Children, clay, and sculpture. Worcester MA: Davis.

Recommended Books/Products:

The Kids 'N' Clay Ceramics Book
Grade 1-6; A collection of appealing ideas using professional materials and techniques. Projects include bowls, cups, bookends, and candle holders.

Ceramics for Kids
Creative Clay Projects to Pinch, Roll, Coil, Slam & Twist
Grade 3-6: A collection of appealing hand-built, low-fired clay projects, organized by technique and increasing levels of complexity.

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