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posting kids' projects on-list

updated tue 20 mar 01


Dai Scott on mon 19 mar 01

I've had so many requests for the list of ideas for kids, that I think I
should post it to the list. It's long, but not nearly so rambling since
Jean Lehman tidied it up---thanks, Jean! Those who aren't interested, you
know about the "D" button. :-)
Have fun with it! Dai in Kelowna, BC
P.S. I've enjoyed the one-on-one with the people I've sent the list to
already; would appreciate input from anyone---we can expand the list of
ideas and keep adding to it.

KIDS PROJECTS... from Dai Scott

One thing kids seem to like, especially boys, is dinosaurs; you just need
to make sure they make nice strong, chunky legs to hold them up. These
usually don't take a lot of time.

A tableau is also another option---maybe a table setting (girls like
these), a family sitting on a couch, or sitting on the "ground" (you want
to avoid having things supported on long legs, because they never do
support, they just fall down!

A coiled mask done inside a paper plate,which gives it a bit of "lift" if
they build right out to the edge of the plate (less chance of cracking if
it's not dead-flat)---I get them to draw the face (doesn't have to be
human) on the paper plate, encouraging them to not be TOO detailed with
little lines. Then they roll coils and follow the lines they've drawn,
then fill in with other coils, balls, or flat slabs of clay. When the
plate is completely covered, smoosh the coils so that the surface you see
is all joined and smooth as possible. You sort of have to check on this to
make sure everything's joined or it cracks apart during drying. They can
then carefully turn the mask out onto a wareboard and will right away see
the face they've made. This is a favourite one with the kids here. Very
easy---doesn't even matter if the coils are perfect (usually not).

Another fairly easy one is a thumb pot---basically a pinch pot ---start
with a longer-than-round ball and push your thumb or finger up longways,
don't pinch it out much, flatten the opening so it will stand up, upside
down. Then add anything to make it a penguin, cat, whatever you fancy.
Penguins are VERY easy,with the addition of a beak, eyes, a little
pinched out tail-point, and two little pinched feet at the front; then two
drawn curved lines at each side to represent wings.
Cats can have a little slab face, just a flat circle with a curved
cut-out section at top to make ears with forehead in between (god, I wish I
had a scanner so I could just send you drawings!), a little ball of clay
for nose, poked eyes, drawn whiskers, score and slip head to body---you can
add coil legs and flattened-ball feet down the front, and a coil tail, all
scored and slipped.
Pigs can be made starting with a solid ball of clay for body, or a
very round pinch pot with the opening at the bottom. Add legs, short and
fat, snout, ears, tail, poked eyes.

I've found that small hands have trouble with the traditional pinch pots,
maybe lack of control, little fingers get tired with the pinching motion, I
don't know. But these pinched ones don't involve much precision pinching.

Anything slab is easy; they can make something that could be turned into a
fridge magnet (if budget allows for the magnets), or little plaques with
clay additions or carving or stamping for decoration. Often kids want to
make something for Mom or Dad, and the little plaques or tiles are
great---they can put "Mom" or "Dad" or "I love You" or something on it.
Add two holes near the top for a cord or thong and it can be hung.
Having ferns or leaves or other things that can be pressed into the
soft clay is neat to experiment with. I also have printing sets (rubber
letters and numbers) that can be used for brief "messages".

Other Notes:
Unless the kids have worked with clay before, I think they really do need
some direction, otherwise they tend to just "play" with the clay till it's
dried out and useless, then they feel badly that they have nothing to show
for the time spent. Those who have definite ideas of what they want to do
just get to go ahead and do it, but I keep an eye out to make sure the
construction is sound, not too much water, etc. I try really hard to make
sure their projects will make it through all the processes!

Are you getting the kids back for glazing, or painting? Sometimes, I just
bisque the projects, and they go back to where the kids are and they paint
them with acrylics and the teacher sprays them with sealer. This is fine
for decorative stuff, but I prefer it if I can get the kids back to glaze,
or underglaze and then I clear-glaze it. It just seems more like a real
"pottery" project if it's got real glaze on it!

Hope this has been some help. Reviewing these projects has kind of got me
enthused about doing birthday parties this summer. I've been asked a
number of times, and always turned it down, but, with our big back yard,
and gazebo-tent, and old picnic table, I think it would be fun to do! Do
let me know how you do, and what projects you do