Theme: My Five Senses

Ceramic Cups


Objective: Children will explore the sense of touch using clay and will make a clay cup.

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What You Will Need

  • Air-dry clay – 1 tennis ball–sized piece per child 
  • Foam plates – 1 per child
  • Waxed paper – enough to cover the baking sheet
  • Baking sheet or large tray – 1
  • A large, color reproduction or digital image of Cylinder Vase, Guatemalan, Mayan Culture – from the North Carolina Museum of Art’s website

What To Do

Note: Prior to the start of the lesson, form a tennis ball–sized piece of clay for each child, place the balls on a waxed-paper–covered baking sheet or tray, and cover with a damp towel until ready for use.

  1. Introduce the artwork, and discuss (see Guiding Student Inquiry).
  2. Tell the children that they will explore the sense of touch using clay.
  3. Discuss the sense of touch (see Did You Know?).
  4. Place clay balls on plates, and distribute.
  5. Tell the children that they will need to manipulate their clay to warm it up. Demonstrate, and have the children follow along, rolling the clay into a ball.
  6. Discuss the texture of the clay (see Guiding Student Inquiry).
  7. Ask the children to name the important parts and features of a cup (tall sides, bottom, no holes).
  8. Demonstrate how to make a cup using the “pinch pot” method: Using your thumb, poke a hole in the center of the ball while keeping your fingers on the outside of the clay ball. Pinch the fingers to gradually make the hole bigger; at the same time, this will create the walls of the cup. Emphasize that the cup needs a bottom, so you don’t want to poke all the way through the center of the ball.
  9. Assist the children as necessary as they make their cups using the pinch pot method.
  10. As children finish, write names on plates, and place cups in an undisturbed location to dry.
  11. Have children wash their hands thoroughly.
  12. Take a gallery walk to look at the completed artwork. Encourage children to describe their cups and how they made them (see Guiding Student Inquiry).

Guiding Student Inquiry

  • Describe how the clay feels.
  • Describe what this cup might hold.
  • Tell me how you made your cup.
  • Describe the parts of your cup.
  • Tell me the difference(s) between the Cylinder Vase and the cup that you made.

Explore, Extend & Integrate

  • Once cups are dry, allow the children to paint their cups. You could have the image of Cylinder Vase on display for children to see. They may want to make simple line designs as on the artwork. They may also try to paint their names.
  • Place various malleable sculpting materials in the discovery or art area for further exploration. You could use homemade play dough, purchased clay, or self-hardening clay. Have the children create other functional pieces such as plates, bowls, or utensils. Add cookie cutters or stamped tiles for children to use for added texture.

Check for Children’s Understanding

  • Could children describe how the clay feels?
  • Did all children create a cup?
  • Could children explain how they made their cups?
  • Could children identify the parts and features of their cup?
  • Could children identify the differences between Cylinder Vase and their cups?

Did You Know?

The sense of touch is one of the five senses: sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touch. The sense of touch gives us information about the world around us. When we touch something, we can tell if it feels hot, cold, or in between. We feel things through our skin because it contains touch receptors. The largest concentration of touch receptors is in our fingertips. We can feel temperature, texture, and form with our fingertips.

Pottery, like Cylinder Vase, is an ancient art form that dates back to prehistoric times when early figurines were made from clay. The first use of functional pottery is thought to have been for storing water and food. Humans discovered that clay could be dug up, molded into a shape, and then dried to make it harden. Pottery is made by forming clay into a desired shape and then firing it in a kiln. A kiln is a type of oven that removes the water from the clay and causes it to harden.

Did You Know?

The sense of touch is one of the five senses: sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touch. The sense of touch gives us information about the world around us. When we touch something, we can tell if it feels hot, cold, or in between. We feel things through our skin because it contains touch receptors. The largest concentration of touch receptors is in our fingertips. We can feel temperature, texture, and form with our fingertips.

Learn More

Vocabulary

  • clay — a kind of wet earth that becomes hard when it is heated or allowed to dry.
  • manipulate — to handle skillfully with hands. 
  • texture — the feel or look of a surface. 
  • pinch — to press something hard between the finger and thumb.
  • poke — to push with the finger.
  • gradually — happening slowly, in small steps.

Vocabulary

  • clay
  • manipulate
  • texture
  • pinch
  • poke
  • gradually

Child-Friendly Definitions

Lesson Tips

  • Explain that the cups the children are making are not for drinking.
  • Have the children wear smocks to protect clothing.
  • You might want to cover tables with paper for easy cleanup.

Books

  • Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave by Laban Carrick Hill
  • 3-D ABC: A Sculptural Alphabet by Bob Raczka
  • The Pottery Place by Gail Gibbons
  • 1 2 3 I Can Sculpt! by Irene Luxbacher
  • Look! Look! Look! at Sculpture by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace with Linda K. Friedlaender
  • In Mary’s Garden by Tina Kügler and Carson Kügler

Common Core State
Standards Initiative

These lessons are aligned with the Common Core State Standards ("CCSS"). The CCSS provide a consistent, clear understanding of the concepts and skills children are expected to learn and guide teachers to provide their students with opportunities to gain these important skills and foundational knowledge.[2]

Visit the CCSS website

   

Important Legal Disclosures & Information

  1. While we believe that the books and resources recommended may be of value to you, keep in mind that these are suggestions only and you must do your own due diligence to determine whether the materials are appropriate and suitable for your use. PNC has no sponsorship or endorsement agreement with the authors or publishers of the materials listed.

  2. There are currently no Common Core Standards for pre-k, but these lessons are aligned as closely as possible to capture the requirements and meet the goals of Common Core Standards. However, these lessons were neither reviewed or approved by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices or the Council of Chief State School Officers, which together are the owners and developers of the Common Core State Standards.

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