Neolithic Pinchpots

Lesson Title: Neolithic Pinch Pots

Concepts: Hand-building with clay, using tripod structure, paleolithic culture, neolithic culture

Appropriate Grade Levels: K - 2nd 

Lesson Rationale/Overview: Students will learn about the Neolithic Era, more specifically why the development of farming and animal husbandry allowed for the first artists to begin creating objects that were functional, beautiful and shared a narrative.

Goals and Standards: 

Grade K-4 Visual Arts Standard 1: Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes. 

Grade K-4 Visual Arts Standard 4: Understanding the visual arts in relation to history and cultures.

Learner Outcomes: Students will 

Materials Needed for Lesson:

  • Images of Paleolithic Era cave paintings and Neolithic Era pottery from multiple cultures and a map to show where the cultures lived
  • Red/Terra Cotta clay (air dry or kiln fired)
  • Earth toned paints for air dry clay or glazes for firing
  • Clear acrylic spray for air dry clay

Materials for Students with Special Needs:

  • personal visual organizer of steps 
  • gloves if tactile defensive of clay

Lesson Procedures:

1. Starting the Lesson: Present a timeline of Prehistoric Cultures, role play what the daily life of a Paleolithic hunter-gatherer family would be like. Role play what the daily life of a Neolithic farming family living in a village would be like. Compare and contrast the experiences with the group.

2. Behavioral Expectations: Students will be responsible for keeping their workspace neat and treating the materials with respect. Students are expected to give informal constructive peer critique through the studio process to guide each other. 

3. Organizer: Break each studio session down into three or four steps and write it on the board, or project it on a screen, so students know the next step in the figure forming process.

4. Lesson Sequence:

  • Students will role play the lifestyles of the Paleolithic and Neolithic people.
  • Students will view a variety of pottery examples from the Neolithic era, focused on shape and texture. 
  • Students will view a teacher demonstration on how to form the basic shape of a pinch pot, and add three feet with scoring and slipping to form a tripod. Teacher will demonstrate the benefit of the tripod base for stability.
  • Students will work at tables to form their own pinch pots, then decorate their pieces with textured objects stamped into the moist clay (rope, burlap, buttons, shells, leaves, etc).
  • Once forms are complete, they are left to dry, or prepared to be fired in a kiln.
  • Students can choose to complete their pinch pots with a wash of acrylic paint to give a natural stained effect, or fire in the kiln with earth-toned glazes.
  • Group critique using this method.