Clay with Kindergarten

I am normally against the “holiday themed” projects that Elementary teachers generally get caught up in.  It just goes against my art education philosophy, but I caved and did one with Kindergarten this year.  I was going to do texture slab medallions anyways but it became Texture Ornaments instead.  SO much easier and well, the results were great!  I had them press textures from texture plates, buttons, found objects, and string into the clay.  They then cut it out using Christmas cookie cutters (I used bells, stars, snowflakes, ornament shapes, and gingerbread men shapes).  We used a straw to poke the hole in the top.  I have a few tips with working with clay and younger kids.  These are tips that I learned and discovered from others as well as a few of my own.

* Pre-roll the clay!  I have a slab roller and rolled a large sheet out of clay and cut it up into manageable pieces.  It made it faster for them.  They only have 30 minutes of work time so any shortcut is good without sacrificing the content that I want them to learn!

* I bought a huge gross of styrofoam plates to use.  I wrote their names on each one in colored Sharpie marker (color coded by class) so that it was easy to label, find, and pass out to them. There are a number of reasons that styrofoam works great… 1) it keeps the clay moist  2) Easy to clean and handle 3) they stack for ease in loading the kiln by class 4) I plan to reuse these for a printmaking project later on too!  Very eco-friendly by using multiple times and getting many art projects out of it!

*Have pieces of canvas or muslin to cover their workspace so the clay won’t stick to the table.  I made “placemat” sized pieces for each spot at the tables.  IF you use fray-stop or other such product along the edges of the fabric, it will last for a long time and not fray.  I stitched my edges but that took a LONG time to do!

*   Demonstrate the process to them so that they know what to do step by step… just don’t have too many steps!

Step 1: take the clay off the plate and place on the fabric.

Step 2: Pick 2 textures to use on the background (place them half and half).

Step 3: Roll over the texture plates with a brayer gently to press into the clay. Peel off slowly.

Step 4: Press found objects into the clay gently (not all the way through) I tell them to wiggle it lightly.

Step 5: Cut out a section using the cookie cutter (press hard so it goes through).

Place it back on the plate!  That’s it!

I cut the holes for the ribbon and stamped their first names into the back of the ornament with rubber stamps. That took forever but it saved so much time later when they went in the kiln and out of the kiln!  You can also use an underglaze pencil to write them on. I also stamped the year into it.

Bisque fire and then place back onto plates for glazing!  I used underglazes to brush on and wipe off into the textures.  It’s important they wipe off the top layer of glaze to reveal the textures.  I cut up sponges for this process.

They dipped the ornament into a tray of overglaze and place back on the plate for a second firing.  They came out fabulous and the teachers and students LOVED them! I made a tag that was attached to the ribbon for hanging that described the process and skills learned in Art for this project.

Of course I didn’t take pics but I’m going to be making them with my son too so I’ll take pics of that and post later.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

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