CLAY HOUSE TEA LIGHT HOLDER – Form, Texture, Measurement

Students research and write an article to explain the Tiny House movement and then design and create a tiny clay house tea light holder out of air dry clay using slab handbuilding techniques and acrylic paint.

Required Time

180 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 4 to Grade 9


Language Arts
Social Studies
Visual Arts



Crayola Air-Dry Clay - ½ kg (1 lb) per student Crayola Acrylic Paint - 6 Count Crayola Paint Brushes - 5 Count Crayola Scissors Pencils Rulers Graph Paper (optional) Water Containers Plastic Bags - 1 per student Plastic Placemats - 1 per student Battery Operated Tea Lights - 1 per student

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CLAY HOUSE TEA LIGHT HOLDER – Form, Texture, Measurement - Step One

Step One

  1. Design your house.
CLAY HOUSE TEA LIGHT HOLDER – Form, Texture, Measurement - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Draw a house plan to scale.
  2. Include each part of the house.
  3. Cut out each piece.
  4. This will be your pattern when you start building the house with clay slabs.
CLAY HOUSE TEA LIGHT HOLDER – Form, Texture, Measurement - Step Three

Step Three


  1. Tape 2 parallel slats of wood about .6 cm (.25") thick on either side of a plastic placemat so they are the distance of a rolling pin apart.
  2. Place a piece of wax paper on the placemat, between the wood slats.
  3. Place a small, flattened piece of clay on the wax paper. 
  4. Place the rolling pin on top of the wood slats and roll out the clay.
CLAY HOUSE TEA LIGHT HOLDER – Form, Texture, Measurement - Step Four

Step Four

  1. Place one of the house pattern pieces on top of the clay slab.
  2. Use a plastic knife or wooden stir stick to cut it out.
CLAY HOUSE TEA LIGHT HOLDER – Form, Texture, Measurement - Step Five

Step Five

  1. Cut out all the pieces.
  2. Place them on a piece of wax paper.
  3. Allow them to dry slightly so the become 'leather hard'.
CLAY HOUSE TEA LIGHT HOLDER – Form, Texture, Measurement - Step Six

Step Six

  1. Trace the outline of a tea light on the floor of the house.
  2. Make it slightly larger than the circumference of the tea light.
  3. Cut out the circle before adding any walls.
  4. Use the score and slip technique to join the parts of the house to each other.
    See the techniques lesson available on this website.  Score and Slip Technique
CLAY HOUSE TEA LIGHT HOLDER – Form, Texture, Measurement - Step Seven

Step Seven

  1. Scratch texture lines into the clay and add details.
CLAY HOUSE TEA LIGHT HOLDER – Form, Texture, Measurement - Step Eight

Step Eight

  1. Allow the house to dry for about 1 week.
  2. Place a plastic baggie loosely over the house to slow the drying down for the first 2 days.
    This will help prevent the thinner pieces of clay from drying too quickly and breaking away from the rest of the house.
CLAY HOUSE TEA LIGHT HOLDER – Form, Texture, Measurement - Step Nine

Step Nine

  1. Once the house is completely dry, paint it with acrylic paint.
CLAY HOUSE TEA LIGHT HOLDER – Form, Texture, Measurement - Step Ten

Step Ten

  1. Place a battery operated tea light inside the house.

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • create a clay house tea light holder;
  • demonstrate skillful slab handbuilding techniques;
  • design a house that is no more than 103 square metres (340 square feet);
  • measure and draw house plans to scale;
  • write an article explaining the Tiny House movement;
  • demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity.


Have students:

  • work in teams to create a step by step How To video for clay handbuilding techniques;
  • create a brochure to explain the Tiny House movement that includes a drawing or photograph of their clay house;
  • share their work with others.


  1. Prior to this lesson you may want to have students explore clay techniques with the Score and Slip lesson on this website at,
    Score and Slip
  2. Make a batch of slip, enough for groups of students to share.
  3. Have students make pin tools by taping an open paper clip to the end of a pencil.
  4. Gather, and make available, books about homes, for example, If You Lived Here: Houses of the World, by Giles Laroche; Let's Go Home: The Wonderful Things About a House, by Cynthia Rylant, and ‎Wendy Anderson Halperin; Going Home, by Eve Bunting,‎ and David Diaz; A Thirst for Home: A Story of Water across the World, by Christine Ieronimo, and‎ Eric Velasquez; and Wonderful Houses Around the World, by Yoshio Komatsu,‎ Akira Nishiyama,‎ Naoko Amemiya.
  5. Teach/review the writing to explain genre. 
  6. Provide time for students to research and write an article explaining the Tiny House movement. (Downloads – WriteTo Explain.pdf)
  7. Teach/review how to find the area of plane shapes, and draw plans to scale.
  8. Download images of tiny houses from the Internet, for example,
    Tiny House 1
    Tiny House 2
    Tiny House 3
    Tiny House 4


  1. View and discuss the images of tiny houses, drawing attention to their design and estimating their size in square metres.
  2. Discuss reasons people choose to go tiny, for example, they want to:
    - save money
    - help the environment
    - live a simpler life
    - have less clutter
    - buy fewer things
    - be more organized
  3. Invite students to imagine that they have decided to build their own tiny house. 
    - Will it be permanent or mobile?
    - How big will it be?
    - What will it look like?
  4. Introduce the challenge.


The Challenge

  1. Create a clay house tea light holder.
  2. Demonstrate skillful slab handbuilding techniques.
  3. Design a house that is no more than 103 square metres (340 square feet).
  4. Measure and draw a house plan to scale.
  5. Write an article explaining the Tiny House movement.
  6. Demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity.

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 design that is no bigger than 103 square metres
    - measured and drawn a house plan to scale
    - constructed a clay house using skillful slab handbuilding technique
    - used score and slip joining technique correctly
    - created a clay house with openings for light to shine through
    - created a house that is sturdy and in good condition
    - written an article that explains the Tiny House movement
  3. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  4. Encourage students to think of how they can create texture.
  5. Encourage students to always join clay using the score and slip technique.
  6. Observe students as they work. 
  7. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.


  1. Place students in groups of about 6.
  2. Ask them to view the houses with the light on and off, and then to share thoughts about the works.
  3. During the discussion include references to: 
    Design - How does the design make you feel about the idea of 'home'?
    - Light - How does the light from the tea light affect the way you feel about the house?
    - Texture – How does texture add to the overall effect of the design?
    - Technical Accomplishment - How does attention to detail contribute to technical accomplishment?
  4. Ask volunteers to share some ideas with the whole class.


  1. Observe students as they work – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting
  2. Observe students as they share and discuss their boxes – active listening, insightful contributions, supporting ideas with evidence found in the artwork and from personal experience.
  3. Use a checklist to track progress. (Downloads - ClayHouse_tracking.pdf)
  4. Have students use the self-assessment form to reflect on their work. (Downloads - ClayHouse_self-assessment.pdf)