Making Pinch Pots


We shape clay into a pot, but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want.”

Tao Saying

Working with clay is something really special. Our school has a kiln, and we use real clay. The smell alone is a deeply sensory experience. There is nothing like breaking open a new package of clay.

If you don’t have a kiln to fire real clay at your school you can use modeling clay as well. It still will be a great learning experience for your kids.

We also like to discuss where clay comes from. There are lots of youtube videos of people extracting clay right from the ground.

Clay has to be used quickly. Our clay comes in large blocks. We cut the clay with a string and students work right on their desks. Every student has a small cup of water ready in case their clay gets too dry.

Clay has to be used quickly. Our clay comes in large blocks. We cut the clay with a string and students work right on their desks. Every student has a small cup of water ready in case their clay gets too dry.

We demonstrate how to knead clay and form a sphere. The trick is to “pinch” your thumbs into the clay to form a small pot. Students smooth the edges of the pots, by moistening their fingers with a little bit of water. Most students have used playdough before, but clay is a very different material. It is hard to knead and has to be moist at all times.

After the lesson, we stash the pinch pots on top of a closet and forget about them for a long time. It is very important that they dry sufficiently or the clay will explode in the kiln. The thicker the objects, the more time they need to dry. We usually wait four weeks before firing them.

The first round of firing in the kiln, also known as the bisque firing, comes first.  Every kiln is different and it is best to read the manual to determine individual firing times. If you are using modeling clay you get to skip the firing process.

Last but not least, we glaze our pots. We use non-toxic lead-free paint and the colors are barely visible during the painting process. We tell the kids the paint works like magic and turns into glass during the second firing process. Firing the glaze is very time consuming because the objects cannot be stacked or touch each other at all.

Finally, the pots are ready to go home. We usually wrap them in clear cellophane so the kids won’t break them. They look very cute filled with candies and make excellent Holiday gifts!

Are you interested in more art projects? Click right here for more (Almost) No Prep Art.

Wandering Black Line Art Project

Wandering Black Line
This is one of our favorite (Almost) No Prep Art Projects. You can literally pull this together in 5 minutes. We usually plan this for the first week of school and revisit versions of it throughout the year. The kids love it and every child can feel successful. We are always amazed how different each one turns out to be. The students’ personalities shine through in surprising ways.

First we turn on some music and hand out black markers. It really helps to monitor their meandering lines. We use water based markers and wipe the tables down afterwards. If you are using anything more permanent you might want to have some newspaper to cover the desks.

When the kids have finished the black lines we hand out red, yellow, and blue markers. We find it really helps to limit the colors in the beginning. Some of our other line projects include patterns and more shades. You can use any material at hand to make wandering lines. They even look great with only paper and pencil!

Are you interested in more (Almost) No Prep Art Projects? You can find a selection of our favorites right here.

(Almost) No Prep Spring Art

Tangled Easter Egg

This is a great project for any age.  Small children might need some help creating the egg shape.  Any material can be substitute with whatever you happen to have in your classroom.


  • Markers
  • Construction paper


Show students how to draw a large egg.  Introduce kids to different tangle patterns.  Share some images of Ukrainian Easter eggs on Google Images.  Help younger children to make the large egg shape on a white piece of construction paper.  Trace all lines with black marker and then color.

St. Patrick’s Day Art Activity

St Patrick's Day Shamrock

This beautiful art activity is a great way for your students to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.  They draw a shamrock and create the lines with a ruler. Then kids simply add tangle patterns. You can create a beautiful display or send the project home for some Irish appreciation.


  • Markers
  • Crayons
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Google images of tangle patterns

Demonstrate how to draw a shamrock.  Show how to draw lines using a ruler. Share some pattern ideas with the class. We usually draw some patterns on the board.  Your students might want to draw with a pencil first and outline with a black marker later. Don’t forget to have fun!