In this activity, children will learn how to make a pinch pot, a coil pot, and a slab pot.
Because of the complexities of the later clay techniques, this lesson is best for students in grade 3 or so. Of course, if you are working one-on-one, younger children may be able to complete all three pots. This would also be a nice project to spread across grades: have a first-grader do the pinch pot, a second-grader create the coil pot, and a third-grader complete the slab pot--THAT would be great!
Begin by reading the Legend of the Three Sisters to the children. With this legend, students are introduced to the foods, customs, and stories that evolved from the planting of corn, beans, and squash--the three sisters. This is a tradition of several Native American tribes from the northeastern United States.
For this art activity, students will create a pinch pot to represent a squash (mine looks like a pumpkin), a coil pot to represent a string bean (mine is open slightly so you can see the "seeds" or beans inside), and a slab pot to represent an ear of corn and the husk. I chose those particular clay handbuilding techniques for each vegetable since they shared similar attributes: the pinch pot is round and simple like a squash, the coil pot reminds me of the tendrils that allow the bean plant to clim way up high, and when I am shucking corn, the husks come off in sort of flat planes that remind me of the slab technique.
Here's the project! Enjoy!
3 Sisters Pottery
- Legend to read aloud
- Real examples of pumpkins, green beans and corn in its husk to look at (or really great pictures)
- Clay (we used Crayola air dry clay since I don't have a kiln)
- Plastic knife, optional
- Paint (we used tempera)
- Paintbrushes, water bucket, paper towels
- Newspapers to work on
|I printed out a copy of the legend, glued it to a scrap of mat board|
and then hot-glued the three pots on there so the 3 Sisters can be displayed together.
NOTES: You may be able to use Model Magic for this project, I didn't have any to experiment with. In that case, you could use colored Model Magic and you'd be done quicker.
If you use air dry clay and some bits fall of during the drying precess, just attach with hot glue or tacky glue.
There are many follow-up activities to a project like this. You could have students write about their work, plant the vegetables mentioned in the legend, cook a recipe containing all three of these vegetables (search for Three Sisters Stew on the internet), act out the legend, and much more!
Here are two nice links to get you started:
The Michigan Land Use Institute:
Has this wonderful lesson by FoodCorps Service Member Kirsten Gerbatsch from Michigan. This file is a pdf.