Teresa M. Moser

EDTE 228A - FA, Sec. 3

Dr. Guenter

Grade Level: Sixth grade

Approximate time: Two class periods, 1 hour and 15 min. the first day, 1 hour the second day.



This is a Visual Arts lesson in: earth clay construction and glazing, and Ancient Egyptian art. It is given in two parts, on different days, because of the firing process involved with earth clay products.


Students need to learn the properties and techniques of earth clay construction because it is a part of the Visual Arts curriculum. They should learn about the connection between this modern visual arts medium and Ancient Egyptian art. This interdisciplinary lesson helps make their study of Ancient Egyptian history more concrete.

Goals and Objectives:

(1) Artistic Perception: Each student will demonstrate his/her knowledge of earth clay construction by creating, inscribing, and glazing an earth clay Egyptian cartouche and his/her knowledge of key terms in the lesson through written assessment (VA Grade 6-1.3).

(2) Historical/Cultural Context: In this interdisciplinary lesson, during class discussion, students will explore the role that Egyptian art played in Egyptian society (VA Grade 6-3.1). Previously, the students have learned that there were other mediums typically found in Ancient Egyptian art, such as painting, and stone and metal sculptures, for example. Forming useful objects such as a cartouche, or nameplate, out of ceramic clay and glazing it, reveals yet another medium of expression consistent with the theme of Ancient Egyptian art and a type of medium typically used during the period (tomb carvings and murals).


Instructional strategies will include direct instruction, guided discovery, teacher demonstration, and class discussion.


Introduction (approximately 10 minutes):

The teacher will introduce the topic of Ancient Egyptian art, engaging students in a discussion in which they will be asked to name and describe the typical mediums used (painting, and sculpture in wood, stone, metal, and earth clay). The class will also briefly review the Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic writing system. Today’s assignment will combine sculpture using earth clay and Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic writing to create a model of an Ancient Egyptian nameplate known as a "cartouche" which was imprinted with the name of a ruler or god.

In Part One of the lesson, students will create their own cartouche by forming clay in a slab construction method, and inscribe it with their own name using Egyptian hieroglyphic symbols. Then, in Part Two of the lesson, they will glaze their cartouche to finish it.

Teacher will introduce the *vocabulary of ceramic clay processes. Teacher will then discuss the steps used in creating a slab construction project, as follows:

(1) wedging the clay to remove air bubbles so the piece will not explode in the kiln,

(2) shaping the clay into either an oval or oblong (whichever student desires); and, (3) using a straightened paper clip to inscribe his/her own name in hieroglyphic symbols on the face of the cartouche.

But before students begin their clay construction, they must take paper and pencil and the handout of Egyptian hieroglyphic symbols, and transfer their own name into Egyptian hieroglyphic symbols. This will serve as their guide as they inscribe their name in the cartouche.


- cartouche (An oval or oblong nameplate created in Ancient Egypt, inscribed with hieroglyphics, in the name of a ruler or god.)

- earth clay (A natural material consisting of a particular kind of soil, made of extremely fine particles of rock broken down into flat "platelets" of clay. Clay has the quality of "plasticity" because the platelets slide against one another when combined with water and they hold together.)

- green ware (Earth clay which has been allowed to dry and harden; in this state, the clay will break easily.)

- bisque (Earth clay after it has been fired in a kiln at a low temperature; the clay is now harder and ready for glazing.)

- glazed ware (Earth clay when it has been fired in a kiln a second time, after being coated with ceramic glaze to create a semi-transparent finish.)

- kiln (A clay-lined furnace for firing earth clay products.)

- wedging (A process of forcing air bubbles from the clay to gain a uniform consistency. Trapped bubbles will cause the ware to break during firing.)


Transcribing student’s name into hieroglyphics (5 minutes):

1. Using paper and pencil and your Egyptian hieroglyphics handout, transfer the letters of your name into hieroglyphic symbols which you can use as a guide to help you while you inscribe your clay cartouche. (Teacher shows already completed sample.) Students begin work on inscribing their name into hieroglyphics before teacher demonstrates slab construction.

Teacher demonstration of steps in slab construction (10 minutes):

1. Wedge the clay. Get a piece of ceramic clay (show how much) and begin wedging the clay to remove air bubbles. Wedge the clay for about 5 minutes.

2. Begin slab construction. After you have wedged the clay, you can begin slab construction by flattening the clay out on the surface of the desk and forming it into either the oval or oblong shape.

3. Finish the surface and edges. Students can use a straightened paper clip, a plastic fork, and a plastic straw to decorate their cartouche. Here’s how:

a. Inscribe your name in Egyptian hieroglyphic symbols into the surface of the cartouche with paper clip.

b. You can use a plastic fork to decorate the edges.

c. Use a straw to punch a hole in the top so a shoelace hanger can be threaded through.

4. Teacher explains that the fourth step, firing in a kiln, will be done by Teacher outside of class time.

Student work on slab construction (40 minutes):

1. Teacher directs students to begin work on their slab construction cartouche at their desks, following steps as outlined above.

Clean-Up (10 minutes):

Each student will be responsible for his/her own desk and supplies and must: clean his/her desk and any tools used and put them away, and use paper towels and water to remove all clay from surfaces. All leftover clay will be placed in the bag with the bulk clay for later use. Students will put their green ware in a designated area of the classroom for drying, and later firing.

NOTE: Teacher will arrange for cartouches to be fired before Part Two lesson.


Review (5 minutes): Before beginning work on glazing the cartouches, Teacher leads a brief class review of the previous lesson. Here are a few possible questions to lead the review with:

1. What is a slab construction and how do you make one?

2. Describe the process of wedging and tell why you do it?

3. What is a cartouche and in Ancient Egyptian society, who were these made for?

Teacher demonstration of glazing procedure (5 minutes):

Teacher demonstrates and describes glazing procedures before students begin this step.

Student work on glazing procedure (35 minutes):

1. Students will choose a ceramic glaze from the choices available and glaze their bisque ware cartouche.

2. Get a small water container, a paintbrush, and 2 paper towels from the sink area. Select a glaze color and pour a small amount of glaze into your container. Put the lid on the glaze bottle firmly so the glaze doesn’t dry out. Return to your seat.

3. Put your cartouche on the paper towels to keep your desk clean. Carefully paint the glaze on starting at the backside, and turning the project over to paint the front side after the back has dried for a few minutes. DO NOT APPLY THE GLAZE HEAVILY; use a thin layer.

4. When you are finished glazing your cartouche, lay it on the newspaper at the back of the room to finish drying.

NOTE: Teacher will arrange to have glazed bisque ware pieces fired. After this firing, teacher will provide students with a leather shoelace at another class period, so they can thread it through and create a hanging wall decoration.

Clean-Up (10 minutes):

Return to your desk and begin cleaning up: Wash all tools and brushes with water at the sink. Wash the top of the desk with damp paper towels. Put lids tightly on glaze containers. Rinse out the water cups and stack them by the sink. Wash your hands and throw away used paper towels. Return to your seat.

Closure (last 5 minutes of Lesson 2):

Following clean-up, hold a short class discussion:

1. Review the four steps of the slab construction process from wedging to firing.

2. Write a chart of comparisons between English letters and Egyptian hieroglyphic symbols:

a. one-to-one correspondence, and

b. shape or form.

3. Contrast the differences between writing on paper and inscribing in stone or clay.

a. Which lasts longest?

b. Which takes the longest amount of time to create?

c. Which is most difficult?

4. What did you like about this assignment?

5. What was your favorite part of the assignment?


The assessment will be based on:

(1) The student’s completion of the clay cartouche assignment, using the steps and instructions given in the lesson.

(2) Through informal assessment, teacher will monitor student participation in class discussion on Ancient Eyptian art mediums and hierglyphic writing system.

(3) The student’s successful completion of a written assessment based on the lesson. See the bottom of this page.




Der Manuelian, Peter. Hierglyphics from A to Z: A Rhyming Book With Ancient Egyptian Stencils for Kids. Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1991.

Kitchen, Lisa. Lesson Plan - Paper Making. http://www.csuchico.edu/cguenter/Four Arts/VA/VApaper.html

Webster’s New World Dictionary. Guralink, David B., Ed. 2nd College Ed.

Simon and Schuster, New York: NY. p. 219.

California, Department of Education. Content Standards, Visual and Performing Arts, Grade Six. Sacramento, 2001.

California, Department of Education. Content Standards, Social Studies and History, Grade Six. Sacramento, 2001.

Joshi, Vijay. "Egyptian Tablets May Be First Record of the Written Word." San Francisco Chronicle. 16 Dec 1998.

Simmons, Michael, and Sharon Smith. Developmental Children’s Art: A Compilation of Articles and Handouts. 2001.


Here are two websites students can use to further explore Egyptian hieroglyphics:



What are the four steps in an earth clay slab construction?





Define the following terms.




earth clay:



green ware:



bisque ware:



glazed ware: