As a “gig” worker, my summers were jam packed with lots of different classes and workshops where I’ve taught art and clay to students of all ages. Covid changed that for me and so many other instructors. Last summer I chose to teach virtually. It worked well. I learned to adapt. Thinking about summer 2021, I decided to return to in-person teaching. I took one full time job for 8 weeks teaching summer clay to campers grades 1-9. I didn’t make as much money as I could have teaching multiple shorter workshops, but it felt safer for me and safer for my young students, the majority of whom were too young to be vaccinated.
Interacting with new people, making friends, hearing the laughter of children and watching them create was joyful. I became part of a bigger community whose job was to provide a wonderful enriching summer for children in a time when that need could not have been greater. I think we succeeded as I look back on the amazing pottery the kids created…
As I watch the cities and towns turn from green to yellow, I’m reminded that patience is important. I miss being in the classroom; I miss the closeness that comes from sitting opposite a student and pulling a pot up together; I miss the close interaction with a child who is frustrated and needs a helping hand; I miss so much that this pandemic has forced us to press pause on.
The upside of pressing pause and rethinking how to teach has provided new opportunities for personal growth and adding technical tools to my teaching regime. This can only be a good thing. Here are some of the teaching opportunities available to students of all ages.
Teaching teens pottery is a different experience from teaching elementary aged students even though there may be only a small age difference. Teens in middle and high school have had many more life experiences. They have acquired more creative tools. Their work has time to develop with a daily interaction with clay. Here is a look at what they created in our week long class this summer.
Teens explored building castles using coils and slabs. From left to right: clay is used to create buildings; castles are glazed in bright colors; artwork is finished with a glaze firing in the pottery kiln. Below are a few more finished pieces.
Once the students were familiar with architecture, they started their second project: architectural tiles.
The results were very unique and exciting to see. Starting with a clay slab, the students used their imagination to take the next steps. They then moved on to glazing and the tiles were fired.
For the final project, the students created a functional piece. They began with a flat two-dimensional slab of clay and turned it into a three dimensional mug. The theme was animals but some decided to move away from topic and create an original piece.
It’s always a great experience to teach clay for Newton Community Education! Check out my poston what the elementary aged students created during their weeks of summer pottery class.
I had a great summer teaching pottery to kids in grades 2-5. They were fun and creative and seemed to really enjoy the experience of working with clay. Here’s a look at some of the projects we worked on in Week 1.
Coral Reefs: before with wet clay and after with colorful glazes.
Here is a look at the projects we worked on in Week 2:
Pinch pot animals, sea creatures or fish (and the cookie monster!)
Covered jars in the form of a favorite dessert.
It’s always a great experience to teach clay for Newton Community Education! Check out my next post on what the teens created during their week of summer pottery class.
My spring session of Kids Clay included mostly repeat students. This allowed me to introduce more difficult projects and let the kids make more creative choices. We focused on three main projects that were multifaceted. We reviewed basic techniques, such as pinching, coiling, texture, slab and attaching to build the final work. Students enjoyed the “play” factor: moving the pieces around to create their own stories. It was a joy to see their creative solutions.
Project One: Turtles in their environment
Project Two: It’s my Birthday
Project Three: Pretend you are a scientist and you discovered a new species of animal. Create that new animal.
Summer pottery class with older students in grades 3-6 were taught techniques to create work in clay. The older students were able to understand and grasp concepts in a different way than the younger students. Sometimes they were more hesitant to take chances, but when they did, they were rewarded. Their finished pieces show maturity and understanding of skills. Here is a look at a few of my favorite pieces from this 4 day summer pottery camp at Newton Community Education.
Ben’s pinch pot dinosaur
Mairead’s pinch pot turtle
Brianna’s coil pot
“Create your own” utilizing pinch pots and coil
Mio’s “Create your own” utilizing slab, texturizing and scratch & attach with slip.
These imaginative students were a thoughtful group who found joy in creating with clay – yipee!
In my classroom for 2D art camp, the students created all sorts of wonderful projects. They were given many high quality materials to work with and learned how to use them. Here is a look at some of my favorite projects from each lesson:
(oil) Pastels and Watercolors
Creating texture with Tempera Paint
Painting Rocks with Acrylic Paint
Creating books with colored pencils and regular pencils
Colored markers and a composition that describes you!
It’s the last day of summer! How would you spend it? Tell me in paint on a canvas….
I come away from teaching with a renewed sense of wonder 🙂