Kindergarten Weeks 4 & 5 ~ Exploring with Clay, Texture and Patterns


  • 2.7  Create a three-dimensional form, such as a real or imaginary animal.
  • 3.3 Look at and discuss works of art from a variety of times and places.

Student Objectives:

Students will create a turtle using the subtractive method with air dry clay.


air dry clay, paper plates, pencils, wood sticks, toothpicks and photos of turtles – top and side views, tempera paints with white glue added, brushes, paper towels, water cups with a small amount of water to share with a neighbor and palettes.


Day 1: 

We gathered on the carpet to talk review shapes.  Then, I stood up with my arms to my side and asked what kind of shape am I?  Some students replied, “a cylinder” others said, ” a rectangular prism with a sphere on top!”  We looked at artwork from ~~~~~

I was thrilled that they were heading in the right direction with little prompting.   We named forms from around the room and discussed what it means to be 3 dimensional.   Then, I drew shapes simply to create a turtle viewed from above.   Each time I added a shape, I asked the students to pair share what they thought I was drawing.  We also took time to name the shapes/forms that I drew.

The students quickly discovered that we would be making turtles out of clay.

Step 1:  We passed out paper plates and asked the students to write their name on the front to the side in pencil.    This is where their turtle will rest until next week when we paint them.

Step 2:  I let the students know that the clay we will be using is air dry clay and warned them how to use it safely – not putting it in their mouths and to keep it on their plates and in their hands while we were making turtles together.  Students were given equal sized balls of clay and allowed to experiment for about 5-7 minutes.

Step 3:  I then asked students to ball their clay back together so that we could start making our turtles.  We practiced the subtractive pinching method by pretending that we were crabs.  We grasped our fingers together and touched our thumbs on each hand to practice.

  • First we flattened our spheres a bit to create the bottom of the turtle.
  • We then formed the head by pinching out from the sphere using our pinching crab fingers
  • By using just our first finger and our thumb, we could pinch our turtle’s tail and legs.
  • Then, we used toothpicks and wooden sticks to make our turtle’s pattern and texture on the shell, eyes, mouths and any other details that the students wished to make.

Day 2: 

We talked about where our turtles might live and what they ate and how they lived.

We reviewed the primary colors and talked about the secondary colors and color mixing.  We decided that our turtles did not have to be green and brown but that they could be any color combination that the artists’ chose to make them.

We talked about how we could keep our primary colors fresh by cleaning our brushes carefully to make secondary colors if we chose to – and to not add extra water to our clay sculptures.  We took our time discussing these points so that students would have successful results.

With Plate and painted Turtle sculpture 6

Each student received a palette with the primary colors and a little bit of white along with a brush.   We allowed the students to paint their plates if they wished and to have fun experimenting with colors for their turtles.

We concluded with an artwalk.

painted Turtle sculpture 2         painted Turtle sculpture 3         painted Turtle sculpture 4

painted Turtle sculpture 5         painted Turtle sculpture 7         painted Turtle sculpture 8

painted Turtle sculpture 9         painted Turtle sculpture         Painting in progress


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