Kids on the Potter's Wheel

When June comes around and my students get a little antsy I bring my potter's wheels to school. Kids think it's magical and they're right. I demonstrate how I make a bowl, a vase and then the kid favorite, a plate. They love the way the rim gets pressed down when you make a plate.

After I do my demonstrations I have kids come up and give the potter's wheel a try. I let them get their hands all dirty and we all have a good laugh as they try to center the clay. I end up helping them push the clay into the middle. Then I have them extend two fingers as I help them open the small bowl they will make. I have them extend two fingers on each hand while I hold their hands, using their fingers almost the way you would hold ribs. In this way, I can show the kids how much pressure is needed on the clay to move it and pull up a wall.

In an elementary art room, there is no way I can really teach kids how to make pots on a wheel. There are too many kids and not enough wheels or time. What I can do though is give some of my little artists a chance to try it, and guide them through basic process. It's mostly about creating an experience and letting them see how pottery is made on the wheel.