APPLE PICKING – Modeling Clay Scene

Students use Crayola Modeling Clay to create a scene about a unit they are studying, for example, Plants. They create their scene in the right hand side of an empty CD case, and write a short poem on a paper that is inserted into the left hand side of the CD case. 

Required Time

120 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 1 to Grade 8


Language Arts
Social Studies
Visual Arts


bas relief composition detail modeling clay narrative texture


Crayola Modeling Clay - Classic Colours Crayola Fine Line Markers Crayola Marker & Watercolour Paper - 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm (9" x 12") Empty CD Case - 1 - per student Variety of Texture Making Tools

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APPLE PICKING – Modeling Clay Scene - Step One

Step One

  1. Create a gouging tool by taping a paper clip to the end of a pencil.
  2. Create a pin tool by taping an open paper clip to the end of a pencil.
  3. Gather some other texture making tools such as a garlic press, skewers, and combs. 
APPLE PICKING – Modeling Clay Scene - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Begin by flattening a small piece of modeling clay on a plastic placemat.
  2. Use the various tools to make different textures on this piece of modeling clay.
  3. When you have filled the clay think about how you might use these textures in your scene.
  4. Roll the modeling clay into a ball so you can use it again.
APPLE PICKING – Modeling Clay Scene - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Divide a piece of paper into 4 sections.
  2. Think about how you want to compose your scene.
  3. Make 4 different drawings.
  4. Explore different ways of composing your picture.
APPLE PICKING – Modeling Clay Scene - Step Four

Step Four

  1. Choose the sketch you like the best.
  2. Refer to it as you work with the modeling clay.
  3. You might decide to add some details from several sketches in your final scene.
  4. Begin by spreading a thin layer of modeling clay in the right hand side of the empty CD case for the background. 
  5. Try mixing different colours to show depth.
  6. Add lots of details and textures to add interest to your scene. 
APPLE PICKING – Modeling Clay Scene - Step Five

Step Five

  1. Write a poem to go with your scene.
  2. Decorate the paper and insert it into the left hand side of the CD case.
  3. View your completed work to see if you need to add any other details.

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • create a bas relief, narrative scene using modeling clay;
  • create a variety of textures;
  • create a balanced composition;
  • demonstrate technical accomplishment; 
  • support their ideas with evidence found in the works.


Have students:

  • work in teams to create a How To video for making a modeling clay scene;
  • use the video to teach other students in a lower grade how to make a modeling clay scene;
  • share the work with others.


  1. Gather a variety of texture making tools and the other required art materials.
  2. Gather and make available a variety of Barbara Reid books, for example, Picture a Tree; What do you see?; The New Baby Calf; and Fox Walked Alone.
  3. Download and view a Barbara Reid video available on the Internet.


  1. Place students into small groups and ask them to examine the illustrations in some of Barbara Reid's books.
  2. List characteristics of her illustrations on a chart paper. 
  3. Ask students to point out the things that make the scenes effective and to speculate about how Reid achieves the effects.
  4. View the Barbara Reid video.
  5. Introduce the challenge. 


The Challenge

  1. Create a bas relief, narrative scene using modeling clay.
  2. Create a variety of textures.
  3. Create a balanced composition.
  4. Demonstrate technical accomplishment.
  5. Support your ideas with evidence found in the works.

The Process

  1. Demonstrate how to make the two tools. 
  2. Ensure that everyone understands the challenge.
  3. Remind students that their scene is meant to be a narrative based on their experiences.
  4. Encourage them to think of lots of details to support their story.
  5. Establish success criteria with your students, for example,
    I know I am successful when I have:
    - created a modeling clay scene that tells a story
    - added lots of details 
    - used a variety of textures 
    - written a poem to go along with my scene
    - decorated the paper for the poem 
    - kept the work in good condition
  6. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  7. Part way through the lesson stop the class and demonstrate/share ideas about how to create texture with the various tools.
  8. Observe students as they work. 
  9. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.


  1. Place students into small groups. 
  2. Ask them to: 
    - Compare their work and describe to each other what they did to get certain effects.
    - Tell each other their stories.
    - Talk about what was difficult and what was easy for them.
  3. Share ideas with the whole class. 
  4. Ask them to tell how they felt about doing this project.


  1. Observe students as they work – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting.
  2. Observe students as they discuss the artworks – active listening, insightful contributions, supporting ideas with evidence found in the artwork and from personal experience.
  3. Use a checklist to track progress. (Download - SCENE_tracking.pdf)
  4. Have students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Download - SCENE_self-assessment.pdf or SCENE_PRIMARY.pdf)