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Pottery: A Fun Activity for Children

Updated on December 10, 2017
sallybea profile image

Sally has been a prolific writer of wet felting tutorials for several years with the occasional foray into literature and much more...

The double seated Millacron Pottery Wheel

A young lad sat at one end of the double seated teachers Millacron pottery wheel. He was being taught to throw his first pot. The teacher, in this case, is a local Potter who has a stall at a local Fundraising event.

The Millacron pottery wheel is reputed to be one of the best teaching pottery wheels available on the market. It is one where the teacher can sit facing the pupil. It helps to eliminate the back-breaking bending which so often accompanies pottery teaching.

Coping with the first lesson

It was amazing to watch how well this young lad coped with his first experience at a Pottery Wheel. It seemed to me that he grew in confidence, almost as quickly as his little mug grew in stature.

Afterwards, he showed off the mug to some onlookers and posed for a photo. it seemed to me that he wore about him an air of confidence and self-assurance which had not been there when he first sat down at the pottery wheel.

It took only a moment to realise how valuable and important the experience had been for him.

Kids pottery class

Getting to grips with a wobble

Getting to grips with a wobble on the pottery wheel
Getting to grips with a wobble on the pottery wheel | Source

Children love working with clay

There is no doubt that children love working with clay. It has a unique therapeutic quality which encourages them to develop their motor and sensory skills. It teaches them self-expression and how to solve problems which can develop when they are learning.

This was clearly demonstrated when the mug which the child was making developed a wobble on the wheel. It spun around on the wheel and his teacher gently guided his hands on the clay just in the nick of time to avert near disaster.

The completed mug

Showing off the finished project.
Showing off the finished project. | Source

What skills can children learn from working with clay?

  • It helps them improve their sensory skills
  • They learn that clay has a certain smell.
  • They learn that clay feels cold and wet and that it has texture. It feels squishy, sticky and is sometimes gritty.
  • Heavy – they experience the weight of the clay
  • They learn motor skills and the effects which they can have on the clay. They get to poke or pinch it, twist it or roll it.
  • Sound – they get to listen to and recognize the different sounds which can be associated with working with clay and a Potter’s Wheel.
  • They learn to share both failure and triumph with friends, families and teachers.
  • They learn self-expression, confidence, and self-esteem
  • They learn that clay is a medium which is very responsive to the touch.
  • They learn that clay can be molded or shaped. Knowing this gives them tremendous scope for creative expression.
  • Children learn that in order for the end product to be successful, they need to be in full control of the clay.
  • They learn that it is their ability which helps to shape, mold or repair an item, even if it only requires a little smoothing out with a wet finger
  • Learning becomes fun and the more they learn, the more powerful this knowledge is to them.
  • It gives them confidence and with confidence come endless creative opportunities for them.

A new felt confidence

Showing off the completed mug.
Showing off the completed mug. | Source

Rolling out a flat piece of clay

Children don’t need any specialized equipment when they first begin working with clay. They can start by rolling or pressing out a flat piece of clay. Next they can work out how to make a design on the flat piece and once they have rolled the flat piece they can turn it into a roll. They might even want to try adding a base to it! A vase or a cup may be the next step in the process or they may even wish to make a pinch pot or a pot with coils of rolled clay.

Two pairs of hands at play

Two Hands at Play
Two Hands at Play | Source

YouTube - free pottery classes

There are so many basic tutorials for making these types of projects on YouTube. It seems a shame not to explore this free resource.

Working with clay allows children to make three-dimensional objects which can be viewed from all sides.

They should be given the opportunity to walk around the items in order to view them from all angles. This helps them to understand perspective, shape and form, not only in the classroom but also when they are out and about in the big wide world.

They will learn that working with clay requires them to understand a few basic guidelines, rules and procedures some of which I have included below:-

Attaching the handle to the mug

Attaching the Handle on the mug
Attaching the Handle on the mug | Source

A few basic guidelines for teachers who work with young Potters:-

  • First things first, they should begin by washing their hands.
  • No eating or drinking while working with clay
  • No eating the clay!
  • Always keep the work surface clean and free of dust
  • Don’t let the clay dry out too much and only add water when it gets too dry.
  • Try to keep the clay at a similar thickness all around. There should be no thick or thin areas on the same piece. If this happens, the items may break during the firing process.
  • They should be taught to write their names into the clay or smooth out any rough edges when the clay becomes ‘leather’ hard.
  • Allow the children to make items of their own choice.
  • In order to prevent disappointment, remember to tell very young children at the start of the lesson, that their completed items will need to left to dry before they can be fired and taken home to show their parents.
  • Items should always be made to the right thickness. If they are made too thick, they may not dry properly.
  • Too thin, skinny items such as tails or handles will easily break without any support.
  • Scoring - Make a game of this, or let them chant the words ‘score, score’ as they make marks on the pieces of clay before joining them. This will remind them of how important this rule is and at the same time, allow them to use ‘real grown up pottery tools’ for this job
  • Smaller children can use a comb to score their pieces.
  • Slipping – this is a liquid suspension of watered down clay. This should be used as glue when two scored pieces are placed together. Each piece should be of a similar stage to one another

My Christmas Wish List

I felt really inspired by the pottery stand and have since begun to explore the possibility of purchasing my own pottery wheel.

The Shimpo Aspire Tabletop Portable Pottery Wheel


  • It is one of the most reasonable models on the market today and comes with a 5 Year Warranty
  • Has a solid metal base
  • Has four rubber feet at the bottom which prevent the base from moving
  • Has a removable solid one piece plastic splash pan which makes it easy to wash
  • Is super light, weighing in at only 25 lbs
  • Is super portable which makes it possible to use it anywhere in the house or even outside of it.
  • Can be placed on a table such as a wallpaper pasting table and is especially useful if one need to transport it to a class and from an event.
  • It will easily fit into the trunk (car boot)
  • The Shimpo Aspire is available with a hand lever control or a foot pedal and includes a splash pan and two bats.
  • It has two platforms on which tools or water can be placed
  • This pottery wheel features a 1/3 HP
  • It has a very quiet motor
  • It has a sensitive speed control with reasonable speed which is better than some much larger models.
  • Speed control is so good that it makes it possible to throw 20 lbs of clay at a time.
  • Super slow motion, especially good when working with young children.
  • Super smooth driving
  • Looks like a toy but does not act like a toy
  • Control comes from a lever control on the side
  • Alternatively, a foot pedal can be purchased separately. It is a simple matter to wire the foot pedal but doing this will in effect, disable the lever control. It is either one or the other method of control.
  • It can be plugged into a regular socket
  • It is possible to purchase an Inverter. This allows one to plug the wheel into a cigarette lighter, or it can be clipped onto a car battery with Crocodile Clips. This gives this pottery wheel an advantage over other larger pottery wheels as it can be taken in the trunk of a car to a class or demonstration.

Dinner plates


  • Its only limitation as far as I can see is the Bat dimension size which is only 9 ¾" - This makes making it impossible to create large dinner plates.

So many great features and so many great reviews

This wheel has so many great features and so many good reviews that I can't hold this one con against it - I know that can’t wait to try it out for myself.

Christmas can't come too early for me this year!

© 2014 Sally Gulbrandsen


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    • sallybea profile imageAUTHOR

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      4 years ago from Norfolk


      Glad you enjoyed this hub. Clay certainly has a charm - children especially love working with it. Thanks for the visit, vote up and comment.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 

      4 years ago from Dubai

      Great hub, pottery brings out creativity in children and they will have fun! I have never worked with clay but now I want to give it a try. Voted up.

    • sallybea profile imageAUTHOR

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      4 years ago from Norfolk


      You are so right, pottery does teach children patience and tolerance. Thanks so much for stopping by to comment.

    • peachpurple profile image


      4 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      i wish malaysia has art class for pottery, it is good to teach kids patience and tolerance.

    • sallybea profile imageAUTHOR

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      4 years ago from Norfolk

      I think that one of the table top versions of pottery wheels may very well be something which your daughter could use in her shared home. I even saw instructions for firing pots in a regular oven but nothing beats proper tuition under the hands of a caring tutor. I feel so sad when I see that people with Asperger's syndrome and other problems sometimes have to miss out and yet others seem to know how to work the system and their children seem to benefit more than others. I do so sympathize with your situation. All of us want the best for out children and sometimes help can be so difficult when we need it. I hope you situation will be resolved in the new year. Thanks for the vote up and useful - it is much appreciated.

      Best wishes,


    • Marie Flint profile image

      Marie Flint 

      4 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida USA

      I had my younger daughter in a pottery class and had to assist due to Asperger's syndrome.

      The instructor provided smocks, used the knee-high wheels. and had the student use the elbow against the inner knee for stability. Step-by-step instructions were very specific, from weighing the clay to removing the pot from the wheel for drying.

      After first firing, she had over 25 glazes from which to choose, all lead-free.

      My daughter loved the class; unfortunately, the family has run into legal issues regarding her training and care. She currently resides in a group home and has missed out continued development of her pottery skills.

      Yes, throwing and creating with clay is very, very therapeutic.

      Voted Useful! ***

    • sallybea profile imageAUTHOR

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      4 years ago from Norfolk

      social thoughts- I am glad you enjoyed this hub - great minds think alike! Art definitely is something that should never be neglected. Children just love being creative.

    • social thoughts profile image

      social thoughts 

      4 years ago from New Jersey

      What a lovely and educational article! I have always enjoyed watching my mom, and others, make pottery. I feel it connects us to the past in so many ways, and it's such a versatile form of art, too!

    • sallybea profile imageAUTHOR

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      4 years ago from Norfolk


      Pottery really is a fun way to create and to boost confidence in adults or children. I am glad you enjoyed the post and instruction. I value your input and comment - thank you so much


    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      4 years ago

      Your title is quite catchy! I remember doing this in art class and how fun it was to create a piece of pottery. It is a great way to encourage self-expression. Love your post and instructions for making it a success.

    • sallybea profile imageAUTHOR

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      4 years ago from Norfolk


      It is certainly an activity I am interested in, especially if it helps to improve the lives of others, especially children. Thank you for your continued support, it very much appreciated.


    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      4 years ago from The Caribbean

      Sally, this is an activity I'm always interested in. Oh to be a child again! Interesting information on the skills they learn. Good job!

    • sallybea profile imageAUTHOR

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      4 years ago from Norfolk

      Iris Draak

      I know from my own experience that my Mother kept an item which I made as a child as did you, your sons clay cup.

      It was a small round French knitted mat made from wool - using a wooden cotton reel with four nails which I had banged into the top.

      The mat had pride of place under a sheet of glass on my mothers dressing table. I know that I would have felt the same way your son felt had she removed it from it's spot near my Mother's bedside:)

      Looking at the coiled pot video above I think that making something like that would be wonderful - the pot is beautiful - very similar to the pots which African women I knew made when I was a child. One would not need a wheel for these:)

      Thanks for your comment, it is appreciated


    • Iris Draak profile image

      Cristen Iris 

      4 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Sally, my son made me a clay cup quite few years back. He is now seventeen, but recently I put it away in a cupboard assuming that he had outgrown its child-like qualities and would prefer something more grown-up to be displayed. He immediately noticed and I think he was hurt. It struck me that he was still very proud of the piece that he had made and painted with his own hands and that he still saw it as a representation of himself and his abilities. This is an excellent idea for kids of all ages. If I had access to one I think I'd enjoy it very much, and I know my son would too. :)

    • sallybea profile imageAUTHOR

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      4 years ago from Norfolk


      I can't think of many things more pleasurable or therapeutic than creating with clay.

      Thanks for the comment.


    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      4 years ago from USA

      I'm jealous. I'd love to do this myself! You have convinced me.

    • sallybea profile imageAUTHOR

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      4 years ago from Norfolk

      DDE - that is a very nice complement thank you. I am glad you found the Hub useful, interesting and beautiful. Thank you too for the vote up.

      Have a great week-end.


    • sallybea profile imageAUTHOR

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      4 years ago from Norfolk


      That really is the sadness of the curriculum in many schools - so little time for creative expression. Schools could be promoting pottery as a career and could include a business model for when the children leave school. The pottery could be self funding if they sold the pottery at school events.

      Thank you for your comment, it is much appreciated.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Brilliantly thought of! A lovely idea for kids and you have displayed such lovely photos. Your creative mind improves mine each time. Voted up, useful, interesting, and beautiful.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      This is fascinating and I love seeing people take time to share their knowledge with children. So many great opportunities for them to experience creativity and self-expression that they will never get in school.

    • sallybea profile imageAUTHOR

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      4 years ago from Norfolk


      I think it is a great activity for children and adults alike. It can be especially useful for children with special needs.

      Thank you for your continued support, it is much appreciated.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I've wanted to work with clay for a long time, but so far I never have. I can see from your hub why it would be a great activity for children! This is a useful article for parents and for teachers.

    • sallybea profile imageAUTHOR

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      4 years ago from Norfolk


      I know that children often prefer to made items which they see as being useful to their parents. I recall a few things which I made for my own. They were kept in pride of place in the home.

      Imperfections in the pots make them so much more endearing, they are definitely gifts to be treasured.

      Thank you for your continued support, it is much appreciated,


    • profile image

      DJ Anderson 

      4 years ago

      This is a wonderful hub. Although, initially I read your title as:

      "Teach The Kids How To Throw Pets". I could not imagine what the hub was going to be until I saw the turning wheel. Ha, ha

      You give us the most interesting hubs. I think it is invaluable for the children to learn crafts. I still have some pottery that my son created

      when he was a very young child. I love them and all their imperfections.

      It is like a gift frozen in time.

      Great hub, Sally!


    • sallybea profile imageAUTHOR

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      4 years ago from Norfolk


      I value my camera much to get muddy paws anywhere near the clay. Just joking - I have always been camera shy - one can live in hope though:) Thanks for your comment Billy. I hope you have a great week-end too Billy


    • sallybea profile imageAUTHOR

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      4 years ago from Norfolk


      I hope Santa will be good to me too this Christmas - as I hope it will be to all the little children and adults out there.

      Best wishes,


    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm with you, Sally. I think kids need to learn crafts to increase their education and exercise their creative brains. Well done. Now, I only have one request...I would love to see a picture of you in one of these articles, and not just your hands. :)

      Have a wonderful weekend


    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      4 years ago from New York

      You said it Sally, "So many great features and so many great reviews", that describes this hub to a tee. What child doesn't like to play with clay? Just ask the Play Doh company! This takes them a step beyond and teaches them all the things you've outlined.

      I hope Santa is good to you this year ;)

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • sallybea profile imageAUTHOR

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      4 years ago from Norfolk


      Thank you, you comment is very much appreciated.


    • Eiddwen profile image


      4 years ago from Wales

      A very interesting and thoroughly researched hub.

      Children love all craft activities and this gem I vote up for sure.



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