CYLINDER MAN – Modeling Clay Figure

Students use modeling clay cylinders to create a 3-dimensional figure suitable for claymation or other storytelling.

Required Time

120 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 1 to Grade 9


Art Techniques
Language Arts
Media Literacy


colour contrast cylinder form modeling clay texture


Crayola Modeling Clay Plastic Placemats Various Clay Tools Paper strips - 7 cm x 10 cm (3" x 4") - 1 per student

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CYLINDER MAN – Modeling Clay Figure - Step One

Step One

  1. Use the 10 cm (4 in) measuring strip to make sure your figure will be the correct size.
  2. Choose the colour of modeling clay you want to use for the legs.
  3. Decide how long you want the legs to be.
  4. Roll out a short, thick coil.
  5. Tap the ends onto the placemat to make them flat and smooth.
  6. Roll 2 small cylinders for the legs. 
CYLINDER MAN – Modeling Clay Figure - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Make sure the legs are the same size.
  2. Continue to roll cylinders for the rest of the body.
  3. Remember to use the measuring strip so your figure will be the right size for stop motion filming.
CYLINDER MAN – Modeling Clay Figure - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Carefully blend the edges of the clay together to join the pieces.
  2. Test to see if your figure can stand on its own. 
  3. Add details to make your character special.

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • join two pieces of modeling clay by blending them together;
  • create a standing figure using cylinders;
  • use texture and colour to add interest to the figure;
  • build on their own and others’ discoveries to generate new ideas;
  • explain their process; 
  • express opinions about the artworks.


Have students:

  • use their clay figures in a group storytelling project using the Diorama lesson plan available on this website;
  • create an animated film of their storytelling;
  • share their work with others.





  1. Place students in groups so they can share modeling clay and tools.
  2. Gather plastic placemats one for each student, and various texture making tools such as garlic presses, skewers, toothbrushes, combs.
  3. Pre-cut strips of paper to be used as measuring strips. (10 cm long and about 7 cm wide is a good size – 4"x 3")
  4. Download and display the Form poster available on this website.


  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 a standing figure using the modeling clay and only cylinders.
  3. Review the meaning of cylinder.
  4. Introduce the challenge.


The Challenge

  1. Make a cylinder out of modeling clay.
  2. Use different size cylinders to create a freestanding figure.
  3. Join pieces of modeling clay using the blending technique.
  4. Use texture and contrasting colour to add interest to the figure.

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 clay figure that can stand on its own
    - created different sizes of cylinders
    - made strong joints
    - measured accurately so the figure is 10 cm tall
    - used contrasting colours
    - added texture 
    - added details to make the figure unique
  3. Demonstrate how to create the cylinder.
  4. Demonstrate how to find the halfway mark on the paper strip.
  5. Have students draw a line at the halfway mark on their paper strip.
    - Explain that the halfway mark on a human is usually at the waist.
    - For their cylinder man it can be wherever they like, but the figure should only be as tall as the paper strip is long.
  6. Encourage students to use the paper strip guide as they create their figure.
  7. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  8. When most students have created the basic figure, stop the class and demonstrate/share ideas about how to create texture with the various tools.
  9. Observe students as they work. 
  10. 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.
    - Discuss the personalities of each figure and what they see that makes them think that.
    - Talk about 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 activity.



  1. Observe students as they work – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting.
  2. Observe students as they discuss their artworks – speaks with a clear voice, looks at audience while speaking, points to areas in the artwork, provides accurate information, answers questions from the audience effectively.
  3. Observe students as they listen – looks at presenter, asks effective questions, supports ideas with evidence found in the artwork.
  4. Use a checklist to track progress. (Download - CYLINDER_tracking.pdf)
  5. Have students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Download - CYLINDER_self-assessment.pdf or CYLINDER_PRIMARY_self-assessment.pdf