Clay Center

The Clay Center ~An Overview~

By now you probably realize that TAB in most configurations is very “Center” oriented. This post is a collection of past posts and the ways my CLAY center has been set up in various years.

The clay center contains all the tools that students can use to build with clay. Typically, before the clay center is opened, we have a class lesson on how clay works with a lot of vocabulary and technique videos. In some years, I have hosted my “Clay Around the Room” activity to expose them to the many different types of clay hand building techniques and the variety of tools available. Click here to learn more about the Around the Room Games.

The Clay “Center” in 2020-2021

With Covid completely closing our school and putting us online 100% from March 2020 until April 2021, I was not able to do anything with clay until we were back in the classroom for Hybrid learning. 

My students have already had a few years without the opportunity to use clay. My room and kiln were packed up at the end of 2018 for a remodel. We were in a temporary room for the 2018-2019 school year with no options to do clay. Then when we were moved into the new building in Fall of 2019, many parts of the construction were not complete. Including having my kiln room and vent systems properly set up. We were finally able to squeeze in a quick clay unit before winter break of 2019. The along came Covid, taking away the opportunity for the second semester students. 

Because of this, It was on my list of highest priorities to get clay up and running as soon as we got into the classroom. To do that I had a few new things to consider. I was told that recycling clay and sharing tools was off limits for now. Plus I had more than 50% of my students still learning from home 100% of their time. I needed to find a way to still provide them with equitable opportunities. So I put together some take home clay kits with clay wrapped in paper towel, a wide popsicle stick, a pointy wood stick (I think they were originally meant for scratch board art) and a couple of print outs to supplement my in class instruction. I did an Animals and Creatures unit to keep everyone doing clay at the same time, as there were way too many other factors to run a true TAB studio during this year. Read more about that unit here. 

Clay in 2016

My clay center has moved in recent years, mostly so I could move paint center closer to the drying rack. I have a small amount of supplies out including a large variety of small hand carving/shaping tools, canvas cloths, turn tables, bags and boards for storage, cups, slip and sponges and a tub of ready to use clay cubes.

There are 2 big cupboards that students store work… one that is ready for the kiln and another that is “still in progress” I do make them put initials and period number on their work… but I don’t make them store by class period or anything. They just need to put stuff where it can fit.

Clay in 2014

The health department finally noticed that my kiln was located in the corner of my classroom with only a counter to keep kids away from it. So the district was forced to “build” a little room around it. HA! 

I always had really strict expectations about clay, as well as movement around the room so I rarely had any issues. I also made a point to let kids come over to the corner to SEE the kiln before we started clay. That way their curiosity was already satiated before the kiln was in use. But because the kiln was in the corner of the small room, both before and after their wall, I was really only able to run it on the weekends. The heat, smell and noise was too much to tolerate during classes. 

Clay in 2007

In this picture you can see how my kiln was exposed to the classroom. The counter did make it easy for unloading and distributing projects though. 

During these years I also had two pottery wheels and a huge slip pouring table with a bunch of slip molds available for us to use in the adjacent ‘shop’ room. 

As much as I love clay, I do have a lot of dust allergies. So I usually just have this center open for a short period of time each semester and we all do a clay project at the same time to shorten the amount of time clay dust is in the room and air. 


Clay student work over the years