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State of Illinois - Pottery and History Curriculum Lesson for Homeschooling or Summer Enrichment

Updated on July 18, 2013
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Illinois is a state that is rich with history. Use this simple lesson to teach your child a little bit about the state. I have listed some facts about Illinois. You can simply read them to your child and then make the pottery project, or you can go deeper. Use one of the facts as a starting point for a project or research paper. Check out books from the library. See what other interesting facts you can discover about Illinois.

How you use this Pottery Road Trip lesson is up to you. Above all, enjoy making pottery with your child. It's a great way to be creative while learning.

Illinois State Facts

State Abbreviation: IL

Capital: Springfield

State Nickname: The PrairieState

State Motto: State Sovereignty, National Union

State Song: “Illinois”

State Bird: Cardinal

State Tree: White Oak

State Flower: Illinois Native (Purple) Violet

State Mammal: White Tailed Deer

State Gem: Flourite

Famous People Born in Illinois:

Bonnie Blair, Olympian

Tom Bosley, Actor – “Mr. Cunningham” from “Happy Days”

Hillary Rodham Clinton, Senator

Ronald Reagan, 40th President

Walt Disney, Creator of Disney

Robin Williams, Actor

Shel Silverstein, Poet and Writer

Bill Murray, Actor

James “Wild Bill” Hickok, Famous Marshall

Fun Facts:

The world’s first skyscraper opened in Chicago in 1863.

Superman’s home town, Metropolis, really exists in Illinois.

The first McDonald’s was opened in Des Plaines.

In 1865, Illinois was the first state to ratify the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. This abolished slavery.

The Chicago Public Library is the world’s largest public library. It has a collection of more than 2 million books.

Nabisco, the maker of Oreos, has the world’s largest cookie and cracker factory in Chicago.

The Great Chicago Fire happened in 1871. According to legend (although it was never proven), the fire was started by Mrs. O’Leary’s cow. Mrs. O’Leary had left a kerosene lantern in the barn, and the cow kicked it over, igniting the hay. This led to a tragic fire that wiped out the city. The Chicago Water Tower and Pumping Station were the only buildings to survive the Great Chicago Fire.

Let's sculpt Mrs. O'Leary's cow:

Start by making a ball. Squish the ball to be a circle.

Make sure you are working on a piece of cloth or canvas, because the clay will stick to the table (since we are squishing it).
Make sure you are working on a piece of cloth or canvas, because the clay will stick to the table (since we are squishing it). | Source

Shape the circle into more of a bell shape like this.


Wet your fingers and rub water on the clay to smooth away any cracks or lines.


Make two small worms to be ears. They don't have to be perfectly the same because you are going to bend them anyway.


Attach the ears and bend them to shape them.


Make a smaller peanut shape to be the nose.


Attach the peanut shape to the head.


Draw eyes.


Draw big circles for the nostrils.


Make a small, long piece of clay and scratch it to make it look like hay or grass.


Give the cow a mouth.


Attach the hay to the mouth.


Now, how could you accuse that face of starting a fire?



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