Magazine article School Arts

A Family Clay Night

Magazine article School Arts

A Family Clay Night

Article excerpt

Parents are our most important advocates. They can make their voices heard on issues, which determine the direction of school district visual art programs. I have found a way to involve parents in my program, to give them a meaningful experience with their child, and to build a strong supportive voice for the importance of visual art.

During January, I schedule a Family Clay Night. By becoming students themselves, parents are offered the chance to experience the creative process; something many of them had not done in years. Parents and students in grades one through five sign up for the hour and a half Family Clay Night on a first-come, first-serve basis. One parent per family and their children attend. By asking for only one parent, we create more space for more families to participate. Over the years, parents take turns attending with their children. We usually have at least 200 participants a night. Each family donates one dollar to help defray the cost of clay and underglaze.

We meet in our multipurpose room. Tables are covered with butcher paper. Modest tools, tooth picks, Popsicle sticks, paper clips, and plastic forks and knives are placed on the tables. Parents bring a small container for water and any tools they choose for texture or modeling.

I cut the clay, keep it in airtight bags, and place on a cart for easy distribution. Parents and students read over a printed sheet of instructions. I use the reprints of the SchoolArts handouts on coil pottery and pinch pots by Ande Cook to review pottery and sculpture techniques. …

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