Clay Is Cool

By Lubiner, Glenda | Arts & Activities, February 2013 | Go to article overview

Clay Is Cool


Lubiner, Glenda, Arts & Activities


Time flies when we are having fun, making incredible art and sharing our knowledge with our students. It's also time to celebrate Black History Month and to prepare for next month's National Art Education Association (NAEA) Convention in Fort Worth, Texas.

Conferences are always a great place to learn new strategies, share your lessons, meet new friends and visit old ones. For me, the NAEA Convention is a time to get reenergized for the rest of the year. This month we will focus on clay and ceramics. Here are some helpful tips to use in your classroom.

tip #1

ALPHABET SOUP! Our first tip comes from Divide, Colo. Toni Ratzlaff from Summit Elementary School found a great way to put names on clay projects. She kept thinking there must be a better way than students scratching names in, often too deep, or her spending way too much time writing all the names for each class.

She pictured alphabet soup, found some alphabet pasta, and solved the problem. Students find the pasta letters of their name, then push each letter into the clay in the appropriate place upon finishing their project. The pasta burns away in firing and the name is so easy to read.

The kids love using pasta in art but, don't make this mistake: the first time her students tried it, they spelled out their name on the table and set their pinch pot directly on top. All their names were spelled backwards! It was fun for them to read backwards later. Live and learn!

tip #2

LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION! Tracy Fortune from Hudtloff Middle School in Lakewood, Wash., recommends getting someone to videotape your clay demonstrations. Edit the video, chopping out any extraneous parts. Add captions to highlight the key points and you are ready to go. If students are absent or need a refresher they can watch the clip.

tip # 3

CLAY COMMANDOS TAKE CHARGE! Teaching one-day clay lessons helps to save on wrapping with plastic and storing for the next class meeting. Maryann Craig from Harmony Elementary in Gwinnette County, Ga., puts one person in charge as the clay commander at each table to help facilitate the activity for the day. They are in charge of getting and cleaning up the tools. Everyone pitches in to clean up clay and sponging the tables (the clay commander can also assign these tasks). …

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