Friday, October 28, 2011

Clay Tips Unveiled

We just finished a successful week of clay lessons. I do clay for a school of 750+ kids in one week. It is a fast-paced, productive and exhausting week. Thank goodness for my "clay angels" (a.k.a. parent volunteers). I'm sharing my top tips with all of you:
1) practice with playdoh the week before (see previous post for recipe for homemade playdoh) or at the very least, draw your ideas.
2) get help with cutting the clay! I now have a scale out. Most grade levels get 1/2 pound of clay per child. Although I can eyeball the clay, I find the scale helpful to people who don't work with it much so they can calibrate their cuts.
3) Label materials. See photo. This helps volunteers and kids with clean up.
4) Label projects. I now have teachers write absent kids' names or "all present" on a post-it note and stick it to the clay box. Soon I'll make a spreadsheet of kids who were absent for the clay day and the glazing day so I can catch those kids sometime before our spring art show. My goal is to have everyone in the school complete the clay lesson
5) Post directions for parent volunteers. I get specific with these directions such as "write name only on the bottom of clay" (otherwise names creep up the sides of pinch pots and names get painted over later).

Yes, this is art class- it should be creative and fun. However this is the one lesson we can't finish the next week (not gracefully anyways). All kids and volunteers know the expectations. When the bell rings, they need to "make it work". I think we're all really proud of ourselves by the end of the lesson.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Play Dough!

Who doesn't love play dough? The homemade kind is so much better than store bought. We just finished using it in art class as a preparation for our clay project (gives the kids a chance to plan their project) and I used it at a baby shower I threw (we played sculpturades which is like pictionary but 3D rather than 2D). This play dough is not edible (I've heard the salt levels can be toxic). Here's the recipe I use:

1 cup flour
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup water
½ cup salt
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
Food coloring

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan. Use a wooden spoon to stir over medium heat until ball forms. Turn the hot ball out onto a counter or cutting board and begin kneading as it cools.

Yields 4-6 small balls