Please Don't Eat the Artwork



Clay Penguins & Clay Organization

These clay penguins were such a hit that I did them with k, 2, and art club! Kids in all grades were intrigued by these awesome little figurines.


We started off by reading the book If You Were a Penguin. Students practiced drawing penguins in their sketchbooks using geometric shapes.

The next day, we build the penguins out of clay. Students were given a piece of clay and they had to give it a couple of gentle rolls in their hands to make a cylinder. Then, they used their thumb to gently create a hollow space inside.


Next, they used extra clay to create a cone for the beak, spheres for the eyes, and smaller cylinders for the flippers. They carefully scratched and attached all of the pieces together.


After a kiln firing, the penguins were painted using tempera paint with glitter. We talked about how the colors of a penguin help it camouflage from predators when it swims in the water.

Once the paint was dry, students got to take their little penguin pals home! With kindergartners, I kept the paint simple with just orange, black, and white. 2nd graders and art club kids have a wider range of motor skills and were able to add details like headphones, hats, and bows to their penguins so they got to use neon colors as well.


These are so precious — every kid was engaged and excited about the project which made it awesome!!

I also want to talk about organization strategies for clay. Doing clay with 500+ kids can be really crazy logistically. It can be really difficult to stay organized and keep track of everything especially because projects are not flat. Finding the space for everything to dry properly can be a challenge. In the past, I did not have a kiln in my classroom which made it even more difficult because I had to cart everything to the other side of the school to be fired in the other art teacher’s classroom!

Now I am fortunate enough to have a glorious kiln room so I wanted to share how I stay organized with clay. First, when kids are finished working on their piece, they have to bring it to the back table and find a slip of paper withe their name on it. They then write their number next to their name. I use this to label all of the clay pieces – I carve the first letter of their name and their number. This makes it really easy to pass back work and it is a lot easier than carving the entire name.

The projects are separated by class and placed into copy paper box lids on a giant cart.


I keep track of whats what by labeling the box with the teacher’s name, grade, and day that they come to art. I also make sure to hold on to the slips of paper until everything is passed out just in case there is a mix up with numbers or names (there inevitably always is with kindergarten).

Towards the top of the cart, I keep some glazes, a hot glue gun (for quick repairs), and paper bags to take the projects home in. I also have a few of my own pottery pieces that “exploded” in the kiln. These come in handy to show students whose projects may have met an unfortunate fate during the kiln firing. I always show them my own bowls and tell them that it even happens to grown up artists and sometimes you just have to have a good attitude and try again.

The rest of the glaze is in the kiln room organized like this:


I got really lucky when I inherited this art classroom its it fully loaded with tons of supplies including a bunch of amazing Amaco glazes!!! They are organized by under glaze, gloss glaze, and crystal/textured glazes. On a teacher workday a few months ago, I made some test tiles for easy reference:

This was super helpful so that I could see which glazes were expired and which were still OK to use. When students glaze, I place one color on each table with a set of paintbrushes and the test tile for reference. It helps students to envision what the color will actually look like since often it is quite different than what the glaze looks like straight out of the bottle.

Recently someone asked me what my favorite thing to teach in art is. The answer has always been and will always be clay. There is something really special when it comes to working with the natural element of dirt. In a world that is moving increasingly towards digital media, it is important for artists – young and old – to maintain a connection to the earth.

And now I’m off to unload a glaze kiln full of animal faces — blog post about that coming soon!

❤ Ms. K


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Clay Creepies

This is my first year doing an art club and there are a lot of things I really enjoy about it. I really enjoy getting to know some extremely talented and motivated students in a more focused setting. I am really enjoying the opportunity to try out exciting projects and materials that would be difficult or impossible to use with an entire class or grade. We are currently working on paper mache masks that I will post about soon.Our first project of the year was a clay “creepie.” This is a project that I have done a million times in a million different ways with 7-17 year olds. I thought it would be a fun and motivating first project for my art club kiddos!

We began with a hunka-chunka clay that we turned into a pinch pot. Then, extra clay bits were pinched, rolled, and attached to create all the features of a monster or creature. I am so impressed with the creativity of this group. They really put their imaginative efforts into their creations and created some crazy clay creepies.

Way to go art club!

❤ Ms. K


Clay Animals

I was so excited when the kindergarten team approached me to collaborate on a lesson. They were about to embark on a PBL unit all about animals and the product was going to be a diorama. So they asked me to make clay animals with the students. 🙂


Initially I was a bit apprehensive about the process. Kindergarteners have the least experience with fine motor skills when it comes to using clay and the project would require each student to have a different animal. There would be a lot of logistics going into the planning and management of teaching each student the skills to build a different animal. I was up for the challenge though because I am starting to step into the arena of more choice and voice type projects (the importance of which I have talked about here) and I knew that if I gave students the chance to explore the material they would be successful. This project ended up being incredibly authentic.


The kids had studied their animals for a couple of weeks prior to the start of this lesson. Their research included technology components and even drawing their animals which was great because they were prepared with knowledge about the body parts. So I began the demo showing them how to create a coil for the body by squeezing the clay into a hot dog.


I showed how to add legs, heads, wings, beaks, tails, fins, eyes, and all of the details they would need to build their animal. Each class had a different habitat they studied and students were in groups based on their animals. I printed off photographs of their animals as well as pictures of what that animal looks like out of clay so they could reference while they worked.


We kept the tools simple, each student got a chunk of clay, a burlap mat, and a mini popsicle stick. We also used slip or “clay glue” to stick the pieces together. It was amazing to see the kids working together and sharing ideas for how to create and build their animals. They were tremendously proud, engaged, and motivated to participate in this cross-curricular experience.

After getting bisque fired, students used tempera paints to paint their animals.


They came out better than I could have ever imagined – I am so proud of the hard work the students put into this project and so thankful that I got to be a part of it!

Arctic foxes:






Clown fish:


A sea turtle and a shark:






Snowy owls:




Orca whales:


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Clay Houses

This project was inspired by a version done in summer camp this past summer.


We began by reading the delightfully illustrated story Home.

Students were inspired by the different homes in the story to sketch their own dwellings.


On the first clay day, we rolled out a slab and used texture mats and other tid bits to create textures. Students cut the outline of their houses as well.


The second clay day*, we added details by using pinch, slab, and coil method. Students were encouraged to personalize their houses with details like their address number and other personal things. After a bisque fire, we glaze.


When the houses emerge from the inferno a second time, they are shiny and bright!

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A Japanese temple:



A watermelon house:

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Kremlin inspired:



A castle:




A rainbow house:

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A tall house:



The Leaning Tower of Piza:



A tree house:


A colorful castle and a wooden house:


Pokeball houses:


A dragon on a castle:


Hooray for houses!



*I really like to give my students the chance to use clay more than one day. This is important because many of them only get the chance to touch clay once a year and since it is such a special experience I want them to get a chance to use the material for more than just 45 minutes. This can make storage a little challenging but it is worth it for the students to get the exposure to creating 3D shapes and forms.

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Ceramic Owls


This past summer in clay camp we did an adorable owl project and I was so excited to try it out with 2nd graders this year! We began by rolling a slab and adding texture.


The next week, students folded their slab and pinched owl ears. They used extra clay to add details like a beak, eyes, and wings.


We finished by glazing with shiny, bright colors. 2nd graders are so excited to take their amazing creations home!

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Summertime and the Livin’s Easy

Hello Readers! How are you enjoying your summer? I am enjoying mine very much which is why I have been m.i.a. around here. It’s not all fun and games though, I have been quite busy with schoolwork for my M.A.E.D. program at Georgia State University! I will be posting another Art By Ms. K post soon so stay tuned for that!

Anyhow, I wanted to share some of the stuff I have been up to this summer. If you follow me on twitter (@artwithmsk) you have seen many of the following photos already. If you do not follow me on Twitter please do so and I shall follow you back!

I spent a couple of weeks instructing summer clay camp at Johns Creek Arts Center (my 8th year as an instructor!) Here are some highlights from the weeks. . .

Owl always love you:

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Slab houses drying in the sun:


Slab houses painted with acrylic:

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Ms. K’s house:

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Rolling slabs (like a boss) and explaining why you should never stick your fingers in the slab roller:

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Glaze Rainbow!!:


I have also been participating in The Everyday Renaissance Project on Twitter. It is a fun challenge to create art based around daily themes!

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And I have of course been thoroughly enjoying the great Georgia outdoors with hiking/biking/and river adventures:

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Any good summer is incomplete without a baseball game (or several) GO BRAVES!

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I can tell you that while I absolutely LOVE the heat I do not love all of the construction that is going on. But sometimes the materials are interesting for example this giant pile of foam spaghetti:

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I hope that you are having a fun summer wherever you are with giant and/or regular sized spaghetti. In about 2 weeks I am jetting off to Italy and Greece so I will be m.i.a. once again but when I get back you can bet your bottom dollar I will have another Ms. K Around the World post detailing the art, adventures, and probably mostly food I experience. 🙂

So long and until next time,

❤ Ms. K


Clay Looms

This project was inspired by It is Art Day! Check out that post for more awesome examples and step-by-step directions!


We began by rolling out clay into a slab and cutting out the center to make a flat donut. We used straws to poke and odd number of holes around the edge. We poked holes using cut up straws. I found that 13 or 15 holes worked best.(Make sure the holes go all the way through! I had a batch that I forgot to double check and no amount of stabbing at the stoneware clay would make a hole appear. Luckily I had made several extras so it was all good!)  It was also helpful to make 2 of the holes kind of off the the side in order to designate where to hang it. Texture was added with stamps and other tools.


After the looms went through the bisque kiln, we used oil pastels and water colors to design.


First, color on the clay with an oil pastel.


You can paint right on top with water colors to create a really lovely resist.


We used twisty wires and pony beads to make a place to hang it up.

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Next is the really tricky part. It took over an entire class to do this step by step and 5th graders definitely had to practice some patience and perseverance but we made it! I found that the easiest way to explain this was to use the analogy of a clock or a bicycle wheel with spokes. I did not have 5th graders label theirs like I have in the following pictures but I definitely will next year!


Begin by tying a knot at 12 or 13 o’clock. Make sure the other end of the yarn has some tape around it to it doesn’t fray. I told my kiddos to make it look like a shoelace.

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Next, put the other end through a hole that is on the opposite side. This was pretty important because not everybody had a “6 o’clock” that was directly opposite from the top hole. I told students to just choose whichever one was closer. In my example I went to 7 o’clock:

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Then, we “walk around the clock”. Go from 7 to 1.. . .


Go from 1 to 8. . .


Go from 8 to 2 to 9. . .


After the first few steps some students start to understand the pattern. I tell those students to work ahead and finish and then they become my helpers and assist students who may be struggling. I demonstrated the steps on a doc cam and had some students working on the carpet looking at the board and other students in small groups at their tables. After every step I tried to circulate around the room at least once and help out kiddos who needed. Eventually we went all the way around:


This last part is pretty tricky and I ended up doing it for most of the students. Basically you have to make sure you have an odd number of “spokes” going around the wheel. If you for some reason do not have an odd number, skip a hole or go through a hole twice and kind of finagle it to make it happen. You take the end of the string and put it through the center underneath the top layer and gather up all the spokes and shift them to the middle. (I wish I could have snapped better picture of this but it makes a lot more sense if you try it out for yourself!)


Tie a knot in the middle and make sure everything is centered! Then snip off the ends.


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When you go to weave, make sure you do it from the front. You can tell the front from the back because the front lo0ks symmetrical and the back looks like a bunch of lines.


To begin weaving, tie a new piece of yarn on any string in the middle and go around and around: over, under, over, under. When you run out of that color, tie a new color to the end and keep going.

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I think these turned out fabulous and the even though the process was challenging, the kids ended up loving it!

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The Goodnight Gecko

Years ago for a birthday or Hanukkah or some occasion I was given this book as a gift:


It’s a really cute rhyming story with delightful illustrations. I thought this book would be great inspiration for this year’s 3rd grade clay project. We began by reading it and talking all about Hawaii (the setting of the story.) The kids were really excited to make this social studies connection especially talking about volcanos and identifying Hawaii as an island. The story is full of adjectives too — we identified adjectives as describing words and every time one was said, the kids would do a “thumbs up.” This was a great literature connection! We then rolled out a slab and created a moon.


A science connection was made when we talked about the word “atmosphere” and why the moon has craters. Students used different tools and objects to stamp in circles and textures for craters.


Next, we rolled out a coil and added legs, a face, and details. The last day was spent glazing after the projects were bisqued in the kiln.


I love the way these turned out and felt that they were especially awesome because of all of the cross-curricular connections and conversations made during the process.


^ With a hibiscus flower!

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^ Bowser!

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Clay Frogs

This project was inspired by a project we did in summer camp this past summer.

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We began by creating a pinch pot and then added coils and details.

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The last step was glazing to make them shiny and bright. I love how quirky they all turned out!


^ With top hat, With a bow ^


^ With an iPad ^

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^ With a triangle tongue, With a crown ^


^ How I feel on Monday Mornings ^

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^ Eyelashes for days ^


^ With a top hat, With headphones ^


^ With an exquisite, detailed flower ^


^ Definitely poisonous ^

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^ Wearing Beats headphones ^


I’ll leave you with a joke:

Why was the frog waiting for the bus?

. . . . Because his car got toad.


^ They thought that joke was quite ribbiting! ^