Monday, December 31, 2007

Ceramic Snowmen Art Lesson for Kinders

Kinder students at Foothill and MountainView created wonderful gifts for lucky parents this holiday season. With great skill and enthusiasm they created ceramic snowmen. For art teachers, this is a fairly easy lesson to do. I chose to do it with my kindergartners but it might be more suitable for first or even second grade. Some little ones, with no play dough experience, had a tough time rolling out the balls. Most did okay but that's one thing you have to watch for. The reason why I love ceramics so, is because there is no wrong way to create something, and kids instinctively know this. But the wee ones might feel a bit defeated if they can't roll a ball.
So, having said that, this is a very easy lesson with the only difficult part being the creation of the hat. I had the children roll out 4 balls. Big, med and two small balls. One of the small balls can be pinched to form a top hat (or a sunhat or knitted hat, whatever it ends up to be).

I teach the kids the "scratch attach" method of scoring the balls together, but of course, this is something the art teacher needs to check on afterwards.

After poking a pencil up through the entire snowman (helps keep the snowman from falling apart and helps the clay dry faster) I then poke holes into the sides for the arms which will be put on later (twigs from my backyard and hot glued in place).

To create the nose, the kids rolled out a tiny piece of clay, poked a hole into the face and slipped the nose into the hole. I had the kids dip the end in water before putting it in the hole.

Two firings needed. One after the clay has dried and the second one after the kids used underglaze. I use a Duncan dipping glaze after the underglaze is applied.

Happy Winter days!

9 comments:

Rob, Holly and Lizzy Baker said...

We don't have access in our building to a kiln. How do I find access to a kiln to complete the project?

Patty P said...

Hi Holly,
The instructions were meant for ceramics, but you could adapt them for any air dry clay. Perhaps use acrylic paint for the finishing steps.
As for finding access to a kiln, well, that's a bit hard for me to answer given that I have no idea where you live or what your school situation is.
My advice would be to use air dry clay.
Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Hi Patty, I'm delving into ceramics for the first time. Where is the best place to purchase bulk clay? What specific kind do you prefer? Hope you had a wonderful summer!
Laura, Foothill :)

Patty P said...

Laura!
So good to hear from you. Hope things at Foothill are going well. As for the clay, just use the clay that is available from the GUSD warehouse. They order Laguna clay and it's all I've ever used. Just ask Pak to order you some.

Anonymous said...

What type of underglaze do you use? I'm not familiar with it. Do you physically "dip" the finished snowmen into a clear glaze before firing? Thanks

Patty P said...

Yup, I physically dip the piece into the glaze, although it's not clear until it gets fired. You could use brush on glaze though. Use whatever you are familiar with.
Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Hi! I love all of your project ideas - we've tried so many at our school this year with rave reviews! I tried this snowman project w/ my second grade class and had a kiln disaster. They all exploded! I think I may have let the kids make their snowmen too big - about 5-6 inches high w/ 2inch balls of clay. AND my kilnmaster is not working correctly so they were fired on Med. instead of slow. What was the approx. height of your students' snowmen and the size of each of the clay balls used to make them. Also, at what temp and speed did you bisque fire? We are going to give this one another try and chalk up our disaster to a practice round! Thanks for any advice you can give! - Heather

Patty P said...

Hi Heather,
Your questions regarding kiln temp might be getting a tad bit complicated for me!
When a project blows up, it's usually because of an air pocket or perhaps steam. make sure you insert a dowel, pencil, etc. up the middle of the snowman so that the clay has a chance to expand. Also, the kids can't have any air pockets in the balls or else they will explode.
I usually don't recommend doing a ceramic project unless you are really familiar with the medium. There are so many things that can go wrong! Try using air dry clay. It's much easier although the results will be a bit different.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your response and your help! We may try the air drying clay. About what height were your students' snowmen? And what size were the clay balls they used. Do you remove the pencils immediately or leave them in while the pieces dry?
-Heather

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