CLAY BOWL – Shape, Texture, Imprint

Students use air dry clay and acrylic paint to create a small slab bowl imprinted with fall leaves and line designs.

Required Time

120 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 4 to Grade 8


Language Arts
Social Studies
Visual Arts



Crayola Air Dry Clay Crayola Acrylic Paint Crayola Paint Brushes Flat Wooden Slats .5 cm thick - 2 per group Rolling Pins - 1 per group Small Bowls - 1 per student Water Containers Paper Towels Fresh Leaves Plastic Wrap Large Plastic Container Lids - about 15 cm (6") diameter - several per group

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CLAY BOWL – Shape, Texture, Imprint - Step One

Step One

  1. Set up stations for rolling out clay slabs - one per group of students.
    - Tape a sheet of wax paper on desk.
    - Tape a wooden slat on each side of the wax paper.
    - Place a rolling pin at each station. 
CLAY BOWL – Shape, Texture, Imprint - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Press a ball of clay between the wooden slats.
  2. Place the rolling pin on top of the wooden slats and roll the clay flat.
  3. Make sure the slab has uniform thickness.
  4. Roll the clay slab big enough for the circle you plan to use - about 15 cm (6") diameter.
CLAY BOWL – Shape, Texture, Imprint - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Use a large plastic container lid to make a circle on the clay slab.
  2. Use a pin tool or plastic knife to cut out the circle.
CLAY BOWL – Shape, Texture, Imprint - Step Four

Step Four

  1. Move the clay slab to a fresh piece of wax paper that has been taped to the desk.
    - This will help you remove the clay from the table when you are finished.
  2. Arrange one or more leaves on the clay slab.
  3. Make sure the leaves are still soft.
CLAY BOWL – Shape, Texture, Imprint - Step Five

Step Five

  1. Roll over the leaves with the rolling pin to press them into the clay.
  2. Gently remove the leaves.
CLAY BOWL – Shape, Texture, Imprint - Step Six

Step Six

  1. Place plastic wrap on top of the clay slab.
  2. Make sure it is flat and smooth.
  3. Use a ball point pen to draw a design in the clay around the imprinted leaves.
  4. Remove the plastic wrap when you are finished.
CLAY BOWL – Shape, Texture, Imprint - Step Seven

Step Seven

  1. Remove the tape from the wax paper.
  2. Gently pull up the wax paper to lift the clay slab off the table.
  3. Remove the wax paper from the back of the clay.
CLAY BOWL – Shape, Texture, Imprint - Step Eight

Step Eight

  1. Line a bowl with plastic wrap.
  2. Gently press the clay slab into the bowl.
  3. Add more details to the rim.
  4. Allow the clay to dry for one week.
CLAY BOWL – Shape, Texture, Imprint - Step Nine

Step Nine

  1. Paint a layer of watery black acrylic paint over the bowl.
  2. Allow it to dry thoroughly.
  3. Paint another watery acrylic colour over the black paint.
  4. Allow some of the black paint to show through.
  5. Paint the back of the bowl too.

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • create a slab bowl;
  • create an imprinted leaf and line design;
  • use colour expressively; 
  • demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity;  
  • support their ideas with evidence found in the works.


Have students:

  • work in teams to create step by step How To videos demonstrating how to make clay slabs;
  • research other slab projects they think would be fun to make;
  • choose a slab project and make a sample of the project;
  • make a small poster outlining the steps to make it;
  • present their work to the class.


  1. ​Have students make pin tools by taping an open paper clip to the end of a pencil.
  2. Set up slab rolling stations one per group of 4 - 6 students.
  3. Have students bring in a small bowl, or purchase small recyclable paper bowls - one per student.
  4. Have students bring in a few freshly fallen leaves or gather enough for students to use. The leaves must be soft and pliable when you use them.
  5. Gather several ceramic bowls.


  1. View several different bowls and ask students what they know about bowls and how they are made. 
  2. Share with students that scientist have discovered pots and other containers in East Asia that are 20,000 years old.
    - early humans discovered that when clay is baked it turns into a glasslike material good for making all kinds of things especially bowls and other containers
    - clay is soil made of minerals, decomposed plants and animals
    - it is usually found where streams or rivers once flowed
    - clay looks like mud but when it is 'fired' - baked at a high temperature, the chemical transformation makes it permanent
    - handbuilding - using only hands and clay is the earliest method used to make things with clay
    - around 5000 BCE the potter's wheel was invented
    - it is a simple machine that allows the potter to make a bowl much faster 
    - both methods are still used today
    - clay continues to be used to make containers, dishes and all kinds of things
  3. Explain that they will be using air dry clay so it won't have to be baked in a kiln, but it will become permanent once it is dry. Unlike regular clay things made with air dry clay are not food safe so are only for decorative purposes
  4. Introduce the challenge.


The Challenge

  1. Create a slab bowl.
  2. Create an imprinted leaf and line design.
  3. Use colour expressively.
  4. Demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity.  
  5. Support your ideas with evidence found in 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 a slab bowl
    - created an impressed leaf and line design
    - used my own ideas
    - used colour expressively
    - paid attention to details
    - created a work that is in good condition
  3. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  4. Observe students as they work. 
  5. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.


  1. Ask students to place their bowls on their tables.
  2. Provide sticky notes at each table.
  3. Ask students to view the bowls and select three to comment on. They should write their own name on the sticky note as well as a specific comment that says something they like or find interesting about the bowl. They then place the sticky note beside the bowl. Remind them that they have to provide details about what they like, e.g.,
    You can’t just say, “I really like your bowl. You have to say what you like about the bowl, for example, "I really like the way you used layers of red and black paint for the leaf. It makes the textures stand out and contrasts with the white background.
  4. Provide time for students to read the comments and reflect on their work.
  5. Ask students 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 write comments about their bowls and read the comments they have written.
  3. Use a checklist to track progress. (Downloads - ClayBowl_tracking.pdf)
  4. Have students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Downloads - ClayBowl_self-assessment.pdf)