I am giving ceramics classes in a summer camp for kids ages 5-13. I mostly do simple projects with them as I only see each group once a week for 45 minutes. My problem is that even simple projects tend to be complicated for some of the kids, and no matter how clearly I give (and repeat) directions -"remember to score and slip"," make sure the walls aren't too thin or they will break", etc. - there will be some kids who forget or don't get it. At the end of the day I find myself with more then 100 little projects, many of which will definitely break in the kiln (or before) unless I "fix" them. Now I know in an ideal world, it would be a good learning experience for kids to see that if they don't follow directions they will not be successful, but summer camp isn't an ideal world. It's all about kids' parents paying a fortune to keep their kids busy and happy. If I don't fix them the majority of the kids will go home with nothing- and be unhappy. Big no- no in the camping world.But if I fix them I am literally spending hours fixing- and sometimes redoing projects. This is crazy! I was wondering if anyone out there has had this problem and has come up with some viable solution.
fixing kids' projects
Posted 30 September 2012 - 06:22 PM
Posted 30 September 2012 - 06:38 PM
Aside from taking time to fix what is fixable . . . I don't know of any other solutions. Over the past couple years, I was a visiting potter and did a clay mask project for classes of 6th grade boys at a nearby school. Some followed directions well; others did not. At the end of the class periods, I would go back over each project and fix what is fixable. I sometimes spent the whole following class period doing touch up work. At that age, fixing may encourage a youngster to pursue clay; success (even if it needed a helping hand) breeds interest and curiosity to try it again.
For good ideas on simple projects, check out John Posts website . . . he is an elementary art teacher who teaches ceramics to youngsters. http://www.johnpost.us/
I went to Mr. Posts web-site in the summer when I was holding some small kids classes. It is excellent. He understands how kids think in relation to what they are doing. He has some good advice about the fixing issue. He said once they learn to ensure good adhesion or they get something out of the kiln that doesn't hold they learn quickly and take the time to ensure it is secure. He has some fun little jingles he used about slipping and scoring. Great site.
Posted 04 October 2012 - 02:18 PM
I think your situation is not so very simple, having children from 5-13 years, only 45 minutes a day and around 20 children at once! My great respect to you!
I´ve experience with classes of 18 children, who not really wanted to do clay projects but had to attend them because of the schools afternoon schedule.
It was really a horrible situation for me, (2010) teaching simple projects nearly prohibited by those children who tend to use clay, paper and water to create throwable little bombs.. ;-)
I claimed at the school to change their system to only maximum 10 kids (13-14years) (1,5 hours) and to give the children a possibility to choose the clay work freely.
Now the situation is much better and I can really give children a chance to learn something and get projects done.
But simple projects are not possible for all children, some tend to destroy their work while doing it (especially boys) and so they have to start again from zero or let it be and do something really simple like a little snake or something else.
I keep projects simple so they have the possibility to learn by doing, plate technics, stamping/rollng on structure etc. some mold technics.
But if they don't listen and don't follow intructions, hey, it's not me who have to do the work again!
Poking in holes in some too thick projects from the bottom or through the eyes is one possibility to help keeping things not blown up in the kiln.
It is rather easy to do this "fixing" during the lessons or after the lesson. Explaining it during the lesson helps to give children a chance to learn and avoid mistakes.
I stress from the first lesson, that they shouldn't work in air bubbles (e.g. by destroying a project, putting it again in a poorly slapped pack and rolling out again).
I give some too massive things back to them after drying without kiln firing (not possible) to get it home if they wanted.
At least, my aim is that by trying easy clay concepts, they get things to bring them home. But I have once a week, half a schoolyear as time for this.
In a summer camp, of course you have different conditions. Making medaillons to get home is a brilliant idea, I think. snakes are always great for boys. And fishes are really a good thing ,easy to do.
Maybe think about acrylic decoration instead of glaze. its fast and children love it (what you see is what you get) . smaller children may do it with water colors.
If they are modelled massive and not bigger than 10-12 cm, its a good idea to open the mouth and poke in a nice hole (together with the child, not after the class). It normally won't blow up.
Nice snails are also easily done projects, as well as mushrooms done from a ball without "scoring"..
This picture is from a birthday party, 10 years old. I did first snails (to coils, one to get the house, the other will be the snails body, just a little "scoring and smoothing" to get them together. Decoration was fun for the kids. ) Poke in one hole from the bottom.
then as second project (1,5 hours) they tried plate technics, and other easy things.
Here another party with children 12/13 years old.
Thanks Gabi- I really love the pics. I think that all that extra time you have (1.5 hours) as opposed to my 45 min. makes a big difference. My kid's projects never look quite that smooth, because there just isn't enough time. I think the kids would love the snails. I'm assuming you showed them how to make them the way you would make a coil pot (scoring and slipping as they wind) and then attach the coil for the body on the bottom.
Posted 04 October 2012 - 02:55 PM
I definitely hear what you are saying about not fixing children's projects to make them look better. I have no problem letting things go into the kiln that have uneven sides, or misplaced limbs, or even that are completely unidentifiable. If this is the children's work, if this is their vision, and this is what they have created, of course this is what the completed project should look like. What I am referring to is fixing children's projects so that the children will have something whole to take home instead of a handful of shards. I am talking about the projects that are so poorly attached that they break apart as soon as they dry, or the ones that are so thin that they crack into pieces, or the ones that are not hollow and have no air holes so not only will they explode, but they will also ruin any other projects in the kiln. What do you do in situations like that if have 20 or more children in the room at once, and it is physically impossible to catch all of these mistakes while the children are present? Would you still not fix them?
I never fix children’s work. I spend the time to teach them the process, give them the terminology, I walk around the room and see who is getting it and help those who are not.
But never, will I ever, do it for them; it defeats the purpose of learning how to do it. If they want their work to look better it is up to them to make better.
I did a five day 2hr summer camp thing for a local college while working for the district. We did 5 projects completed and glazed in 4 days-potters wheel experience 5th day, and discussion of work fresh from the kiln. During this time I did slab candle houses, slump mold platters, coil bottles, pinch pot bowls, poison goblets(standing slab forms) and some other projects over the years. Each was completed in nearly one day, each finished well before going into drying on the downdraft table-my secret weapon. Class sizes were usually 15. I had some early problems with joins, but after changing to magic water most of those disappeared. I only would repair a student project if it was obvious it would not survive as was. Most of the time I never had to repair as I would have caught the problem in class and made certain it was taken care of even if I had to help. Working with younger kids is great, they are not so sophisticated that enthusiasm is uncool! You miss that sort of enthusiasm in HS, but get more understanding and patience from them in return.
Posted 07 October 2012 - 09:09 AM
But I can say that, for me, the fixing of a student's project, should be dependent on what led to the damage? If the project broke, or fell apart because of their own neglect or lack of proper technique, process, then I put the burden of the repair on them. If the project is damaged, due to the actions of another, i.e. someone bumped it, moved it improperly, etc. then I'm much more inclined to help them.
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