Clay Light Houses

Fourth grade students in my school district learn about Michigan's history. Part of that history is manufacturing and shipping on the Great Lakes. The fourth grade teachers asked me if I would make clay light houses with their classes to align with their social studies and science curriuclum.

We used an extruder to make the cylinders for the lighthouses. The kids drew ideas for decorating their lighthouses from images of lighthouses I showed them in a Powerpoint presentation. We created these lighthouses using Rovin's RO-82 Terra Cotta clay and glazed them using our majolica base glaze with lowfire glazes over the top.

In their homeroom classes, the kids wired up their lighthouses with a battery and a light bulb, learning a little bit about circuits. The problem with this lesson for me was that every kid had to end up with a successful lighthouse in order for them to be able to do the wiring back in class. You know how clay works, there's always something that goes wrong with a kid's project, or some kid who doesn't follow directions and make a hole in the lighthouse for the wiring to pass through. In short, this project became a real pain in the butt because every kid had to have a successful lighthouse, and in art, that doesn't always happen. So what I started doing each year was making a few extra lighthouses along with the kids, so when disaster would strike, I could give the kid a backup lighthouse.