The Pot That Juan Built

In 2nd grade, students are learning about coil, slip and score in the clay curriculum.  One excellent resource I use to talk about the process clay takes, from ground to pot, is the book The Pot That Juan Built by Nancy Andrews Goebel. This book about Juan Quezada, a real artist who lives in Mexico. Juan made pottery in the style of his ancestors and turned his small village into a thriving artist community.

This book is so beautiful.  They story is two-fold, telling two different stories on each page.  One page is a poem that outlines the process that Juan takes to make a pot from start to finish.  The other page has non-fiction narrative text that tells the true facts about Juan’s life.

I have students watch this in movie form, because it really brings this story to life. The students are so engaged and have a lot of questions about Juan. In the story, Juan makes a tortilla, for the bottom of the pot, and then he makes a sausage for the coil around the pot. This is how I get my second grade students started making coil pots.

2nd Grade Coil Pots

Day 1: Watch movie and practice rolling coils

Day 2: Make Coil Pot.  I use red earthenware for this project. It’s so beautiful and simple. (next year I want to take two days to make the pots, in hopes of upping the quality of the pieces)

Day 3: Glaze Pots with clear glaze

Day 4: Reflect/Display, etc.

This last one is my favorite.  I didn’t notice this gem until days after the project was done. I was looking through the pieces and I noticed it looked like two people embracing. I asked the 2nd grade boy about it. He said they were hugging. The idea just came to him as he was building the pot. Now THIS is what art class is all about.  Creativity within a structure of a new skill. It just touched my heart. I think I will put it in our spring art show.

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Jessica Balsley

Jessica Balsley is AOEU’s Founder and a former AOEU Writer and elementary art educator. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.

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