Lesson Plans:
Pottery 3: If My Clay Could Sing

Grades/Subject: Grade 4 Visual Arts Education
Related Subjects: Language Arts, Music, Social Studies

Learning Outcomes:

This concluding lesson of the unit, Discovering Pottery in North Carolina, provides a hands-on opportunity for students to design and create pottery to reflect their surroundings. Teacher will expose them to a reading of a book concerning the communication properties of symbols/designs in art. They will also be encouraged to create lyrics for a song about their piece in reflection of the book reading. This lesson can be adapted to any region, especially with those having a history of pottery traditions.

Teacher Planning:

Roll out clay and cut 5 inch x 5 inch slab/plaques in advance of the procedure. Cover.
Collect examples of visuals that are recognized as symbols of North Carolina, or whichever state this lesson is being taught in.

Materials/Resources:

  • Crayola air-dry clay slabs
  • Printed copies of visuals for NC state symbols
  • Clay tools: plastic forks and knives, toothpicks, and paper clips
  • Wax paper
  • Pottery rubric, “Pottery Connections
  • Acrylic paints or spray paint
  • Clear acrylic sealant
  • Book: When Clay Sings by B. Baylor
  • Printed copies of “If My Clay Could Sing…” sheet
  • Markers, crayons or colored pencils

Procedure:
DAY ONE

  • Teacher will read When Clay Sings aloud and engage students in a discussion about the book, emphasizing that while clay cannot actually speak, the design of pottery can tell us about the person who made the pottery and about that person’s surroundings.
  • Teacher will initiate a discussion about symbols typical for North Carolina, focusing on why each symbol was chosen.  Students will be encouraged to brainstorm other symbols that reflect the area in which they live.
  • Each student will choose a symbol (state symbol or local symbol) with which to decorate their pottery plaque. 
  • Teacher will provide instruction for and demonstration of techniques that use tools to create different effects on the clay, such as demonstrating how to score the two surfaces to be joined. 
  • Pottery slab/plaques will be distributed upon a sheet of wax paper.  
  • Provide each student with an additional piece of clay with which to build up their design into a three dimensional symbol.

DAY TWO

  • Students can choose one of these painting methods:  Acrylic paints and brushes to paint their own designs, or teacher can spray paint each finished plaque a solid color. 
  • After the paint dries, teacher will spray each finished plaque with acrylic sealant and allow to dry.
  • Students will begin with this portion of the lesson by responding to the prompts on the “Pottery Connections” sheet.
  • Teacher can engage students in a review of the book, When Clay Sings.
  • Teacher will then encourage them to create a free verse poem prompted with the title, “If My Clay Could Sing…”.
  •  Students may word process, print, then decorate their poems. 

Assessment:

Assess how well students completed the “Pottery Connections” rubric, considering at what level of enthusiasm they responded to its prompts. A group discussion would be helpful to close the unit, focusing on what the students have learned during the three activities. 

Comments:

The clay will need 24 hours to harden after DAY ONE.

North Carolina Curriculum Alignment:

  • Visual Arts Objectives, Grade 4: 1.01, 2.02
  • Social Studies Objectives, Grade 4: 3.02, 5.02
  • Language Arts Objective, Grade 4: 4.02
  • Music Objective, Grade 4: 4.01

Attachments and other Items:

Bibliography:

  • Baylor, B., When Clay Sings, (New York: Scribner, 1972)

- Submitted by Angela Lovedahl, Curriculum Coordinator of Jackson County Schools, NC.
Adapted by Jada Hansen.
This unit was presented to Ms. Yvanne Fisher's 4th Grade Class at Fairview Elementary School, Sylva, NC.