Ceramics Workshop for Girls Inc. of Metro Denver

On June 15, 2010 I lead a three-hour workshop on ceramics and sculpting for third graders in the summer art class at Girls Inc. of Metro Denver. The class began with a brief introduction of myself, followed by a lesson on the history of ceramics. Pictures of ancient pottery were passed around and discussed. After this, I introduced basic art concepts of line and form and asked the students for equivalent 3D terms for shapes such as circles, squares, etc. Several clays were used during this project, as the first air-dry clay was hard to work with. This minor setback was used as an opportunity to demonstrate clay properties and the importance of conditioning the clay. The students and I spent time kneading small batches with water and used the clay to make tribal animal forms. Later, a salt clay was used to create animals of the student's choosing. After demonstrating a few techniques for attaching clay together, the rest of the class was student-guided.

Lesson Plan 06/15/2010



·            Introduce self and my ceramics background

·            Introduce today’s project—small, air-dry clay animals

·            Pass around pictures of animal designs for ideas and examples of 2nd-4th grade work


Brief History of Ceramics


·            Comes from Greek word for “pottery”

·            Clay figures made for religious purposes (show photos)

·            First clay pots made by coiling, sometimes used baskets for mold

·            Geometric decoration


5000-4000 B.C.—Mesopotamia (now Middle East and Egypt, point region out on map)

·            Round pots with geometric designs

·            Later human and animal figure designs (show Egyptian hippopotamus picture)

·            Clay bricks also used to make buildings


Pottery wheel invented in 2500 B.C. (show Katie’s pottery, pass pictures of more delicate pieces)


Ancient Greece and Rome

·            Two distinct characteristics: shape and decoration

·            Pots have particular function

·            Amphora

o   Holds liquids

·            Krater

o   Mix wine and water

·            Hydria

o   (note name, ask what does word sound like: hydrate, hydro, all have to do with water)

o   Carry water

·            Decorated with figures, often tell story or reflect pot’s function




·            3D designing (all things made of 3D shapes—spheres, cubes, logs, etc.)

·            Clay techniques

o   Wedging

o   Rolling clay (flat sheets and logs)

o   Tools for texturizing

o   Attaching pieces correctly

o   Water and scoring method

o   Toothpicks

o   Hollowing out thicker pieces




Each girl will get an (adult fist-sized) piece of clay.  With this clay, girls can choose to make a few small animals or one larger animal out of their clay.  Girls will be using techniques demonstrated by Miss Katie to create their creatures.  After the girls’ creatures have dried completely, they can paint their animals.




·            Air-dry clay

·            Rolling pins

·            Toothpicks

·            Tools for texturizing

o   Pencils

o   Plastic knives

o   Plastic forks

o   Old paint brushes

o   Pieces of fabric (burlap, terrycloth)