CLAY BASICS – Modeling Clay Building Blocks

Students learn how to make basic shapes with modeling clay and then combine all the shapes to make a sculpture.

Required Time

75 Minutes

Grade Level

Kindergarten to Grade 8

Subject

Art Techniques
Mathematics
Media Literacy
Director's Cut

Vocabulary

ball box coil cone cube cuboid cylinder disk form modeling clay oval ribbon solid sphere teardrop

Materials

Crayola Modelling Clay Plastic Placemat Various Texture Making Tools

Shop Crayola Products

Steps

CLAY BASICS – Modeling Clay Building Blocks - Step One

Step One

  1. Gather a variety of tools for creating texture and joining the modeling clay.
  2. You may want to make a pin tool by taping an open paper clip to the end of a pencil, and a gouging tool by taping a paper clip to the end of a pencil.
  3. Other useful tools are a garlic press, comb, skewer and toothbrush.
CLAY BASICS – Modeling Clay Building Blocks - Step Two

Step Two

BALL

  1. Take a small piece of modeling clay.
  2. Squeeze it into a rough ball with your fingers.
     
CLAY BASICS – Modeling Clay Building Blocks - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Roll it around and around between the palms of your hands.
  2. Make sure to go in circular motions.
  3. Make it into a smooth, round ball.
CLAY BASICS – Modeling Clay Building Blocks - Step Four

Step Four

COIL

  1. Squeeze a small ball of clay into a sausage shape.
  2. Spread your fingers and apply light, even pressure as you roll the shape across the surface of the placemat.
  3. Make the shape long and thin.
  4. Make sure it does not get flat.
  5. See how long, thin, and smooth you can make your coils.
  6. Practice making long, thin coils and short, stubby ones. 
CLAY BASICS – Modeling Clay Building Blocks - Step Five

Step Five

CYLINDER

  1. Roll out a short, thick coil.
  2. Gently tap the ends onto the placemat to make them flat and smooth. 
CLAY BASICS – Modeling Clay Building Blocks - Step Six

Step Six

EGG

  1. Start with a ball.
  2. Roll it up and down between the palms of your hands to make it into a long oval shape. 
  3. Gently pinch the ends of the oval with your fingers.
  4. Form it into an egg shape.
CLAY BASICS – Modeling Clay Building Blocks - Step Seven

Step Seven

DISK

  1. Start with a small ball.
  2. Pinch it between your thumb and fingers to flatten it out. 
  3. Smooth out the edges.
  4. Practice making different sizes and thicknesses of round disks.
CLAY BASICS – Modeling Clay Building Blocks - Step Eight

Step Eight

DROPLET

  1. Make an egg shape and continue to squeeze the top end until it becomes a point. 
  2. Keep the rest of the shape smooth and round so the whole thing looks like a droplet of water.

 

 

CLAY BASICS – Modeling Clay Building Blocks - Step Nine

Step Nine

CONE

  1. Make a droplet.
  2. Gently tap the base on the desktop until it is smooth and flat.

 

 

CLAY BASICS – Modeling Clay Building Blocks - Step Ten

Step Ten

BOX

  1. Make a cylinder.
  2. Place a ruler or flat object on top of it and gently press down to flatten it. 
  3. Turn it so the flat side is on the table top and repeat.
  4. Keep doing all sides until you have created a box. 
  5. Practice making different sizes and shapes of boxes
CLAY BASICS – Modeling Clay Building Blocks - Step Eleven

Step Eleven

RIBBON

  1. Roll a long, thin coil.
  2. Place the coil on a piece of wax paper and then on top of the placemat.
  3. Gently roll a pencil or marker back and forth along the coil to flatten it into a ribbon. 
  4. Lift the end of the wax paper and peel the ribbon away from it.
CLAY BASICS – Modeling Clay Building Blocks - Step Twelve

Step Twelve

  1. Combine all the shapes you have created to make a sculpture.
  2. Press the modeling clay pieces firmly to each other.
  3. Use a stick or your fingers to blend the joint to make it stronger. 
  4. Once it is complete use a new, contrasting colour of clay to add extra details.

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • create 9 basic shapes with modeling clay – ball, coil, cylinder, oval, teardrop, cone, box, disk, and ribbon;
  • use the shapes to build something interesting;
  • join the modeling clay using the blending technique;
  • explain their process; 
  • express opinions about the works.

Extensions

​Have students:

  • use the Cylinder Man and Creating a Standing Animal lesson plans available on this website to apply their skills and use their figures for storytelling;
  • share their stories with their peers.

Prepare

  1. Place students in groups so they can share modeling clay and tools.
  2. Gather plastic placemats one for each student.
  3. Gather various texture making tools such as garlic presses, skewers, toothbrushes, combs.

 

Introduction

  1. Ask how many students have worked with modeling clay, and what they know about it.
  2. Explain that they are going to learn how to make some basic shapes out of modeling clay.
    - these shapes are like building blocks that can be used to create all kinds of things
  3. Make connections to solids they may be studying in mathematics.
  4. Introduce the challenge.

Activities

The Challenge

  1. Create 9 basic shapes with modeling clay – ball, coil, cylinder, oval, teardrop, cone, box, disk, and ribbon.
  2. Use the shapes to build something interesting.
  3. Join the modeling clay using the blending technique.
  4. Explain your process.
  5. Express opinions about the works.

The Process

  1. Make sure everyone understands the challenge.
  2. Establish success criteria with your students, for example,
    I know I am successful when I have:
    - created every shape accurately
    - used all the shapes to create a sculpture
    - used contrasting colours to add detail to my sculpture
  3. Demonstrate how to create the basic shapes as you guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  4. Observe students as they work. 
  5. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.

Sharing

  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;
    - discuss their process for figuring out how to use the shapes to make something interesting;

    - consider how they could use basic shapes to make other objects;
    - talk about what was difficult and what was easy for them to do.
  3. Share ideas with the whole class. 
  4. Ask them to tell how they felt about doing this activity.

Assessment

  1. Observe students as they work – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting
  2. Observe students as they discuss the art works – active listening, insightful contributions, supporting ideas with evidence found in the artwork and from personal experience.
  3. Use a checklist to track progress. (Download - BASICS_tracking.pdf)
  4. Have students make a small drawing of their sculpture and write a description of how they made it, and what they feel is the most successful part of it.