Sunday, September 21, 2008

Wall Pocket Lesson Plan

Purpose: Students will learn basic techniques for working with slabs. They will create a wall pocket with unique decoration on the front.

Adjustments: Older students (8 and up) can roll their own slabs and cut out the shapes using templates. For younger students, have pre-rolled slabs with shapes already cut out and on bats or paper plates.

Supplies: Clay (figure 2 lbs. per student), Large paper clips, Pencils, bats or Chinet Platter size paper plates, small cups for water, newspaper or scrap paper for wadding.

Procedure: Introduce the vocabulary word, “Slab”. A slab is a thin, flat, piece of clay. Demonstrate how to roll out a slab (even if your students are using already prepared ones). Talk about the importance of keeping slabs you want to stay flat after firing in a flat position while working on them. Slabs have “memory”. If they’ve been curved during creation but dried flat, during the firing, they will actually re-curve. Try to move slabs a minimum of times. Roll it, cut to size, and place it directly on the bat or paper plate you will be working on.

I’ve found it helps to demonstrate the entire project before handing-out clay. Depending on time constraints, I will also have them sketch out how they would like to decorate their pocket before having them do it with the clay.

Students will decorate the top slab before joining it to the base. They may roll out long thin coils of clay, wet them, and then attach them to the top and decoratively press with a pencil into place. When the top is decorated, students will score the attachment point on the base and run water along it with a finger or paintbrush. They will take a wad of newspaper that is skinnier at the base and wider at the top and place it on top of the base. They should be careful not to leave newspaper hanging over where the top will be joined. The newspaper may be left in place for firing, as it will just burn out. Then, they stretch the top section over the newspaper, being careful to line up all the sides and not to tear the clay. Once the top is in place, students will use their thumb to press (forcefully) the top into the bottom. This should leave definite prints all the way around the joint. At this point, they may add decoration to the top edge of the base and around the join. For most students, the whole process takes about 30-45 minutes. Allow 1 hour for the entire lesson.

Variations/Enrichment: Students can use stamps instead of clay additions to decorate the pocket. Advanced students may design and create their own templates for other wall pockets. This project can be incorporated into a unit about plants. If the pockets are glazed, they can actually be used as a planter with some pebbles for drainage in the bottom. For younger children, this project may be used as part of a unit on shapes.

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