One of my favorite projects that I do with my fourth grade students is a ceramics project entitled the Disguised Box. The idea behind the project is that the students are to create a ceramic box (bottom, 4 sides and a lid) and then changing it into something else. However, the box still needs to be functional even though it is hidden. Over the years, I have got a number of different examples from my students. The most common are cars, trains, tanks, volcanoes and hamburgers. Overall, the results have been consistently strong and I believe this is because of the unique problem to be solved and kids liking to work with clay.
However, every year I have one or two students who do not pay close enough attention to the class demonstrations on how to build and attach things made in clay. The results are often lead to their work falling apart and beyond repair in the time they have left on the project. To help remind the students of the steps to follow when attaching 2 pieces of clay together I created this graphic.
The graphic has a image of a finished teapot (box). It then uses a slogan I call the 4S’s to remind the students of the stops they are to follow. To attach 2 pieces of clay together the students must first score, then slip, stitch, and finally smooth the clay out in order for it to stay together. Scoring is the process of roughing up the surface of the 2 pieces of clay to be put together. Slip is watered down clay that is used as glue to hold things together. Stitch refers to pulling the 2 pieces of clay together by pulling the clay from one piece to another usually with a pencil or pin tool. Lastly, smooth refers to smoothing out all the stitches so the 2 pieces look like one without any seems.
I tried to keep the graphic simple enough that it could be used with the lower grades as well. I use this technique with all of the classes I teach ceramics too. Over the years it has worked well, but hopefully the graphic will help students remember how to keep 2 pieces of clay together and they can avoid the sad faces that inevitably come up when things don’t stay together.