I decided to be daring with my crazy 6th grade class. The class that I had more students than chairs and table space, yet somehow I’ve managed to fit them all together. The class where all the skill levels are mixed, ranging from gifted and talented to absolutely no experience or interest in art.
This class is goofy, as most sixth graders often are. So I knew I needed a lesson plan that could hold their interest, while still giving them a wide range of creativity and the ability to expand on their ideas. I decided to create a lesson where students would create clay mugs, and then sculpt a face of some sort of the side of it. I wanted them to create mugs that had a ton of personality.
I recommend having students pass a basic clay tools and vocabulary test before they are working. This could include basic terms such as slip, score, needle tool, carving tool, metal tool, bone-dry, etc. One thing I did not include which I should have elaborated on way more is the variety of different clay tools and when it is best to use each one. That is something I ended up telling students as I went around and helped them individually.
Once students pass the basic clay test, then it is time to discuss the project. I showed students a variety of great sculpture examples, along with different styles of cups and mugs. I allowed them the creativity to expand beyond a basic shape, to play around with handles, to make a cup that is function versus a cup that is just nice to look at. Like I often do, I required that students handed in two completed sketches of two different ideas. I reminded them to include details and to consider how they could create a clay mug with personality.
I showed a demonstration to my students on how to create a clay mug by rolling out clay, creating a base, and attaching all of the pieces together by slipping and scoring. From there, they were allowed to change the shape into whatever way they wanted. I walked around individually and helped students, making sure to pass back their graded sketches so they had an idea of what they were trying to accomplish.
I graded these using my standard format for how I grade projects. 25% Subject Matter and Creativity, 25% Sculpting Clay, 25% Craftsmanship and Applying Glaze, and 25% Effort and Participation. Here are some of my favorites!