Three Things That Will Make Your Clay Projects Go More Smoothly


Last Spring I did clay with every student in my school.  It was crazy and messy, but a lot of fun.  The main issue with any clay project is storage. Doing clay with the whole school was quite a challenge and storing all those projects without breaking any or losing any was tough.

Get Organized!

I collected boxes for a long time and had 6 boxes for each class.  (Yup! that’s 126 boxes!) My classroom has 6 tables with 4 students seated at each one, so each table had its own box with the homeroom teacher’s name  written on the box and a piece of colored tape on it to correspond to the table color.  This made passing out work super easy. I have students pass out work at this level, and there was no searching through the pieces to find name tags.  You just found the box for the table, brought it to the table and you were done!

The final thing I did to keep things organized, was print out labels for each class that had the student’s name and teacher on them.  After each class, students wrapped up their work in a plastic bag, stuck the name tag on the bag, and placed it on the box.  Then the students who picked up the work took the boxes to the designated area.


Teach the Clean Up Procedure First

For years, I was notorious for losing track of time and then making students rush to clean up.  I would be barking orders while everyone scurried around to tidy up and wash hands. It left the room a mess, stressed the kids (and me) out, and we often misplaced work in our rush to clean up.  Then the next time I saw the class we wasted time searching for lost work.

If you teach the procedure at the beginning of class, everyone knows what to do when you tell them its time to stop and clean up.

My procedure is this:

  1. Wrap your work in a plastic bag. Put your name tag on the bag and place the bag in the box.
  2. Pick up any unused clay from the table and floor.  Place the clay in the reclaim bucket.
  3. Prewash your hands in the water bucket. (See below)
  4. Wash hands with soap and water
  5. Put smock away and gather on carpet for closure discussion or video.


Prewash Buckets

I recommend having several buckets of water near the sink.  Not only do you not want all that clay going down your drain, but students can prewash their hands and get the majority of the big chunks of clay off their hands before they get to the sink and use the soap.

Beware! Remind kids to rinse in the top of the bucket and not reach down and play with the clay that has sifted to the bottom of the bucket.  If they dredge up the clay from the bottom it will smell and gross everyone out.  Have you ever tried to maintain order when someone passes gas in fifth grade.  Take that and multiply it by 10 and you see why you don’t want to mess with the clay on the bottom of the bucket.


Hope this helps you have a great time with clay in your art room.  On Friday I’ll be back to talk about making Pinch Pot Owls.


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