Every first grader simply can’t WAIT to make a legendary, clay owl. This is possibly my favorite lesson of all. Not because it’s clay… Honestly the feeling of clay on my hands gives me the heebie jeebies… After a clay lesson I can’t wait to lather on the lotion! This one’s my fave because they come out so darn cute!
I adore these little guys and my students put so much creativity and individuality into them. This lesson fits nicely into one hour-long period. If you don’t have a kiln to fire clay than you definitely need to use air-dry clay. I am lucky enough to teach in a school that provided me with a kiln as clay is one of my favorite mediums to teach!
We begin by making a pinch pot.
What you need:
- Clay or Air dry clay (if you don’t have a kiln you need to use air dry clay)
- water cups
- tooth picks
- scrap paper
Let’s get started
Make a smooth ball. I tell the kids to hold their clay in their ‘nest’-a rounded hand, and use the other rounded hand to smack it into shape. The smoother the ball the better the owl.
“Give me a ‘thumbs up'” and dive your thumb into the clay ball, push it in as far as you can go without coming out the other side. This part can get a tad tricky as 1st graders are known to have rather weak little thumbs and act as though they are holding a ball of steel rather than clay. I ask my kids to hold the ball in the air on their thumb so I can see that everyone got it. If a ball looks particularly wobbly tell them to push their thumb in deeper.
Make the hole bigger “like a shark that has bubble gum stuck on their tooth” they use their fingers to squeeze the clay and make a pinch pot. At this point I walk around the room and “check” every pinch pot. Some kids do way better than others…. If a pinch pot is very thick I will take it and quickly thin it out. Too thick clay equals explosion in the kiln equals crying kid…
Smoothing. Put the pinch pot down on the scrap paper with the hole side on the table. At this point I let the kids dip one finger in water to smooth their owl. A shiny owl means too much water so keep blending the water until there isn’t any shine. Once nice and smooth move on to the face!
I lay out a paper reminding kids of all the different body parts they need to make. Then I demonstrate how to roll a bead of clay between your palms and squish into a thick pancake for an eye. Score and slip (scratch up and add water to) the back of the eye and in the spot where you will add the eye. Roll a little beak between your fingers and use a tooth pick to imprint lines on the eyes and feathers on the belly. For wings roll two short coils and flatten them a bit. Be sure to score and slip every piece you attach.
Once finished I tell my students that they can embellish their owl with a hat or a crown, I always get a few Mohawks which make me giggle! These owls certainly all end up having a personality of their own! I hope your kids enjoy this lesson as much as mine do!