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Clay with K-3

Greetings from the art room! I wanted to share the ceramic artwork my kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders have been working on. All of the following projects are twists on lessons I have taught in the past so I won’t go into too much detail here, (except for 2nd grade’s turtles). Click the links below to see the step-by-step process for each project ūüôā

Kindergarten Penguins

Last year when I did penguins with my kinders we used tempera paint and glitter to paint them. I had a lot of kids request to use more colors than just black, white, and orange so this year we painted them with watercolor. I love the multi-colored designs!

1st Grade Rainbow Fish

I think I have read the Rainbow Fish out loud to kids at least a thousand times. I know all of the words to the story without even looking at the pages – it is one of my absolute favorite childhood books. This year’s 1st graders were so inspired by the beautiful sparkly illustrations. They were super excited to use¬†Sax Versa Temp Pearlescent Paint¬†and¬†Sax Versa Temp Metallic Paint¬†to paint their creations. One group ended up needing 2 class periods to paint so when they finished on the second day, they created a pyramid “habitat” for their rainbow fish.

2nd Grade Turtles

I have been collecting turtles since I was a little kid. I brought my turtle collection into school to sit on my windowsill and the kids have been going bonkers over all of them. 2nd graders were so thrilled to make their very own ceramic turtles. We began with a pinch pot which we then added features to by doing scratch & attach.

They added all kinds of cutie details like hats, bows, soccer balls, and even baby turtles. The turtles were completed with Sax Versa Temp Fluorescent Paint.

3rd Grade Animal Faces

Last year’s batch of 3rd grade animal faces came out great. I decided that it would be helpful for students to use a template for their slab so I die-cut a bunch of circles that they could trace. This ended up being super helpful to manage the size of the final clay projects.

3rd graders could choose to use the neon or the shimmery colors to paint their animal faces.







Lions and tigers and bears OH MY:

Dragon, Monkey, Koala:


A uni-bear, a spider, and a squid:



The Titanic?!?!?!!!!!


For more clay projects, check out THIS POST with 4th & 5th grade’s clay projects ūüôā

‚̧ Mrs. K



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Kinder Pumpkins

Kindergartners are just finishing up their pumpkin paintings so I figured I would share a few in time for Halloween. We began by reading The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin which is a adorable rhyming story with gorgeous illustrations. Then, we drew pumpkins using an oval and curved lines on big white paper.


Students painted their pumpkins by mixing red and yellow paint. The next week, we created texture on purple paper by rubbing crayons with a texture mat. Then students cut out their pumpkins and glued them. They chose a piece of green paper and drew a leaf which got cut out and glued to the stem of the pumpkin. With scrap papers they rolled little lines into a cylinder and unrolled it to make a curly spiral vine. I do not have any pictures of the process but here are some great examples of the final product:

I love these precious pumpkins!

‚̧ Mrs. K


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Autumn Trees by Kindergarten

Kindergarteners began this lesson with the story “Sky Color.”


This story is super cute, it is all about a young artist who discovers that the sky doesn’t always have to be painted blue. I always find that my blue paint/crayons/markers/ANYTHING is the first to run out because it is the most popular color for filling up a sky. I wanted my students to know that the sky can be many different colors so this book was perfect to lead us into the project. Each student got a white oil pastel and filled their paper with¬† clouds. Then, they used water colors to paint “sky colors” which made their clouds magically appear!

The next week, we watched the BrainPop about Fall. We talked about all of the changes that happen when Fall comes especially the beautiful leaves. We reviewed color mixing too. Students drew a tree on top of their sky color background with a brown oil pastel.

They start off with a vertical line and then make it thicker. Next, they draw two diagonal lines to make the letter Y. They draw another vertical line in between and make all of those thicker. The little branches are created by creating little Y’s.


Now the original idea for this project comes from¬†here¬†and they used aluminum foil to create the leaves. With my first batch of kinders I also had them use aluminum foil and that was the only time we did it that way because they did not turn out great. Most of the foil trees just looked like a big ol’ blob of paint on the paper and the detail of the branches was lost. So I racked my brain – and my supply closet – for something else we could use to print leaves. I found a stash of pine cones and they turned out to be absolutely PERFECT for this! So all the other classes used pine cones to dip and stamp yellow and red paint.

These are just absolutely charming:

Great job kindergarteners!


Mrs. K




Rainbow Lines that Wiggle & Mouse Shapes

When on of my kindergarten classes got dropped off during the first week of school, the teacher frantically explained that there were¬†several¬†four-year-olds in the class. This happened more than once. So basically this year’s batch o’ kindergartners includes a whole bunch of teensy little tots. With this in mind, I knew that the first couple of projects needed to be verrrrry basic and verrrrrry step-by-step. After all, many of these kiddos had never painted before. So we started out low and slow with Rainbow Lines.

This project is all over Pinterest, I am not really sure who came up with it so if you know, please comment so I can give a proper shout-out :). On the first day we read Lines that Wiggle and painted lines with black tempera paint. Students began to learn about painting procedures like getting a smock, treating the brush responsibly, and putting art on the drying rack. They got to practice all of that again on the second day of the project. We read Planting a Rainbow and talked about the order of colors in a rainbow. Students used watercolors to fill in the space between their lines. How fabulous!

As soon as they got the hang of lines and identifying colors, it was time to take it a step further. The next project РMouse Shapes Рtook it to the next level while still keeping it simple for young kindergarteners. On the first day, we watched the Shapes BrainPop and talked about all different kinds of shapes in the world. We painted shapes with back tempera paint. The next day, we read Mouse Paint and talked about mixing primary colors to create secondary colors. Kinders mixed up their mouse paint inside of their shapes to create a masterpiece!

These projects were a really great way to start off the year for kindergarteners. They got to practice painting procedures and learned lines, shapes, and colors in a very hands-on way. Now that they have all of those skills we can move on to more challenging projects.

‚̧ Mrs. K

p.s. . . . .

Is that an ‘R’ in between the M & S??? Why yes it is! As of one week ago Ms. K is now MRS. K! I will be keeping my last name but I am indeed a wife ūüôā So if you were wondering about the lack of posting lately it is mostly because I have been sooooooo busy with wedding things. More posts coming soon ūüôā


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Sleepy Weaving

The idea for this project came from¬†Mrs. Elder’s World of Art.¬†We began by weaving. This is a really tough skill for kindergartners to get the hang of. I think that many of them just don’t quite yet have the fine-motor skills necessary to successfully weave in an over-under pattern. A few kids usually get the hang of it but most are usually on the struggle bus.¬†Because of that, I always teach weaving very sloooooowly. We begin by folding a paper in half like a book. Then I walk around and draw 5 dots on each paper.


The students write their names above the dots then draw a vertical line going down from the dots.


Next, they “cut on the line and stop at the dot.” This essentially created a loom on which to weave.


They cut another paper into strips and unfold their loom.


Then, they go “over the river and under the bridge” with their “snake” to weave.


I show them how to do the opposite for the next one so that it creates a pattern. I also tel the it is ok if all of the snakes are next to each other, it still counts as weaving!


That pretty much took up every single second of the first day. The next day, we created a colorful background with crayons and watercolors. Some classes did not have time to do that so they just used construction paper. On the last day, I did a demo of how to draw a portrait of yourself sleeping. Students could also add a stuffed toy.

Sweet dreams, kindergartners!

‚̧ Ms. K


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Symmetrical Butterflies

Kindergartners worked hard to make these fabulous florescent butterflies! We began by watching a BrainPop about butterflies so students could get an idea of the body parts and designs.  Then, we folded a piece of paper and did step-by-step drawing of a butterfly. We started with a semi-circle for the head:


Then added curved lines for the thorax and abdomen:

IMG_20170508_083313 (1)

Next we drew a big number 3 for the wings:


And filled them in with zigzags:


We added antennae too:


After the drawing was completed, students painted over their lines with black paint. Then, they folded their paper and gently pressed and rubbed to create a “print.”

Sometimes the paint had dried a little and didn’t transfer over all the way. So students problem solved by painting over their hard-to-see lines.

Off they went to the drying rack to dry.


The next week, we used neon Versatemp paint to fill in the shapes. Students were encouraged to try and paint their shapes symmetrically.

I love how these turned out! They are bright and beautiful but also a little strange in a Rorschach kind of way. ¬†ūüôā

‚̧ Ms. K


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Pete the Cat and the Missing Cupcakes

All year long my kindergartners have been¬†obsessed¬†with Pete the Cat. And I honestly can’t blame them because Pete the Cat is awesome!!!! I love all of the Pete the Cat books but I was especially excited when I saw this on in the book store:


Not only are the illustrations amazing, but the story is super cute too and includes counting and subtracting which is perfecto for kinders. We created these paintings with step-by-step drawing and looking at pictures of cupcakes. Now normally I try and steer away from projects that are this prescribed because I do not want all of the products to look the same but this method of creating actually ended up empowering students and making them feel proud of their work. We began by reading the story and drawing Pete the Cat. We drew a wide letter “V” with a curved line and triangles at the top. Then, students looked at pictures of cupcakes to copy or they could use their memory or imagination. They had to show overlapping with the cupcakes in front of their Pete the Cat. After drawing, they traced all of their lines with sharpies, then they colored in the cupcakes with Crayola Twistables.

The next class, kinders used tempera cakes to paint their designs. How adorable are these!?

As Pete the Cat would say:

“Keep walking along and singing your song, because its all good”

‚̧ Ms. K


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Usually when I hang displays of artwork, the displays are homogeneous and feature the same project from a variety of different classes. I was inspired by a recent conversation about displaying artwork to mix it up a bit for kindergarten, 2nd, and 3rd grade’s self-portraits.

I had an art teacher a long time ago who always said that when displaying artwork you should mix up the projects so that viewers don’t compare the works. Each student’s work should be appreciated on it’s own and that is easier to do when the work is surrounded by a variety of projects.

Since kinder, 2nd, and 3rd grade all finished their self-portraits around the same time, I thought it would be fun to display them all together. They are so colorful and the mixture of media and methods is really awesome to see!



I love how each one is so unique — even though the students experienced the same demonstrations and used the same materials during the process, their products are all so different!

If you are interested in seeing any of the step-by-step lessons for these self-portraits you can see kindergarten’s¬†here,¬†2nd grade’s¬†here,¬†and 3rd grade’s¬†here.


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Kindergarten Stamped Velentines

This lesson was inspired by a project from¬†Mrs. Knight’s Smartest Artists!


On the first day, we read a super cute book called¬†“The Shape of My Heart”¬†Kinders loved the rhyming words and colorful illustrations.


Students drew the letter V at the bottom of a big piece of paper. Then they used cardboard and black paint to dip and stamp!


They also used marker caps, cylinders, and smaller cardboard pieces to create Xs and Os. The smaller sized stamped hearts were made by me – I hot glued a rolled piece of poster board. The next week, students used tempera cakes to paint their valentines. Aren’t they sweet?!

‚̧ ‚̧ ‚̧ ‚̧ ‚̧ ‚̧




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