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Making a Coil Vessel Lesson Plan

6th grade

5 / 1.5-hour classes



The intention of the lesson is to experiment with the coil method of building a vessel. Students will use their imagination and intuition to explore various ways of thinking and seeing. Sketching exercises help students to design vessels and build to size and scale. We will play with various surface design techniques by drawing into the clay and glazing. The course will connect students to their personal aesthetic.



Need for purpose - Talk about how this skill can be used as a fun way to relieve stress. Tell students they can make presents for friends and family. Ask students how learning to build vessels can influence their future.

Need for autonomy – Allow students to create a unique design. Check in with individual students to give positive feedback. Phrase comments with suggestions for success.

Need to belong – Greet students at the door, say hello. Ask students how they are doing. As the lesson plan progresses, ask students if they have ideas/plans/sketches they would like to share. Let students who want to sit together sit together. Allow for harmless socialization.

Need for mastery – Go over rubric at the beginning of the lesson so students are clear about how to get the best grade possible.


Students will model clay with control.

Students will build upon past knowledge to craft an original, three-dimensional artwork.

Through observation, investigation and discipline, students will create an art object demonstrating the use of the elements and principles of design.

Students will use ceramic vocabulary when referring to the processes of shaping clay objects.



Sketch book 8.5” & 11”

Drawing tools


Water and spray bottle

Clay tools

Plastic bag







Class 1: Ceramic terminology and processes. How the whole thing works. Coil method demonstration. Sketch a coil method vessel. How to build to size and scale.

Class 2: Build your vessel. Learn about storage

Class 3: Build your vessel. Drawing into clay

Class 4: Glazing

Class 5: Class exhibition


Ceramic terminology:

pinch - to form clay between the fingers and the palm

coil - a rope-like formation of clay

bisque - is clay that has been fired but not yet glazed

ceramics - are objects created from stoneware, porcelain, or terra cotta

clay - soil, water, and sand

fire - is the name for the heat that is used in a kiln

glaze - a glass paint used on pottery

kiln - a special oven used for hardening clay

greenware - pottery that is not yet fired in a kiln

leather hard - the hard condition of clay when it is almost air-dry

score - roughen the surface to bond two surfaces together

sculpture - a three-dimensional artwork

slip - a liquid clay used to glue two pieces together

texture - press into the clay surface to create pattern, design, or rough surface



  1. Flatten a piece of clay to make a disc about 2” in diameter. This will be the base of your vessel.

  2. Roll a piece of moist clay on the tabletop to make a coil (snake).

  3. Scratch and slip the edge of your disc and push a coil snake down around the perimeter of the vessel base. Once you push the coil snake all the way around the base, continue to push a second layer of coil snake down on the first layer.

  4. When you use up your coil snake, smash the layers of coil snake together and smooth out the creases between the layers. Pay mind to keep the thickness of the vessel walls even.

  5. Continue layering coil snakes up the vessel wall until you’ve reached your intended height.

  6. Store your vessel in a plastic bag to continue working on your vessel during the next class.

  7. Use a coil snake to create a foot on the bottom of the base (base and coil are leather hard). If you would like to draw on your clay, use a pencil or a clay tool to make a pattern.

  8. Let your vessel dry

  9. Fire your vessel

  10. Apply glaze to the surface of your vessel. Avoid getting glaze on the bottom of the vessel or the bottom quarter inch of the wall

  11. Wipe off glaze from the bottom of the vessel

  12. Let glaze dry.




coil 1.jpg
coil 3.jpg
coil 2.jpg
coil 4.jpg
coil 5.jpg


Students will be instructed to put away art materials neatly in their containers, clean off their tables, and recycle their trash five minutes prior to dismissal.


Assessment Rubric:

coil rubric.png

Barbara Bjerring

Art Educator

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