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Shake Rattle and Roll Lesson Plan

Lesson Plan Idea by Gregg Dollings / Artwork by Emma, 8th grade, Bailey Bridge Middle School
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Lesson Plan
Grades K-6
Art, Music


Students can create their own clay instruments while learning about musical influences both past and present. This hands-on, 3-dimensional, interactive lesson plan can be used for any age or skill level. It can be used as a cross-curricular activity with music, history or science (turn the character into an animal!). This plan is very affordable and uses self-hardening, air dry clay, and readily available materials in the classroom. It is ideal for those without access to a kiln. (Suggestions and tips for those using a kiln are found below.)


  • Students will study and learn about famous musicians and their historical impacts (both past and present).
  • Students will learn symmetry, and create original three-dimensional musical instruments (percussion).

Supplies Needed

Amaco® Self-Hardening Stonex, 25-Lbs., White
20-Piece Potter's Tool Kit
Art-Time® Tempera Pint Assortment, Set of 12
Multi-Media Gloss Varnish, Quart
Paint Brush Set, Seconds, Set of 42, Assorted

Recommended Products for Kiln Fired Clay Rattle:
Amaco Versa Clay #20, 50-Lbs.
Amaco Velvet Underglazes and/or Amaco Majolica Gloss Decorating Colors


Content Standard #1: Understanding and applying media, techniques and processes.

Content Standard #2: Using knowledge of structures and functions.

Content Standard #4: Understanding the visual arts in relation to history & cultures.


Adjust quantities and add all items at once


Step 1

With a clay cutter, slice off approximately 1 pound (more or less can be used) of Amaco® Self-Hardening Stonex clay.

Step 2

Slice clay again and make two equal balls.

Step 3

Using your thumb as a pivot point, make two equal shape and size pinch pots. (Hint- Stick your thumb straight out and let the clay hang on your thumb while forming the sides of the pot. This helps with uniformity of thickness of the sides and shape).

Step 4

Place 5-15 different shaped small beads into one pot and place the second pot on top of the first pot pinching the edges of the pots together.

Step 5

Cut 4-5 small holes in the bottom of the pinched pots or "ball-shaped" figure to allow sound to resonate.

Step 6

"Pinch" on embellishments to form character and or carve clay accordingly.

Step 7

Allow several days to dry before paint application. Should be "bone-dry"(no longer cool to the touch).

Step 8

Apply paint. Allow 2 hours for paint to dry before applying varnish..

Step 9

Apply varnish. (Hint - Varnish helps to hold and strengthen appendages, making them less brittle).

Tips For Kiln Fired Clays

This project can be made with kiln-fired clays. Follow the same process but use pre-fired clay balls for the rattle sound instead of plastic beads. Pre-fired clay balls can be made from different clay bodies and can be of different sizes. This will produce different sounds. Use the score-and-slip method of joining two pieces of clay. Additionally, use Amaco® glazes instead of paints and fire accordingly. As with any fired piece, it is recommended that you bisque fire your rattle first at a slightly higher temperature (cone 04) before proceeding to a glaze firing (cone 05). This helps to eliminate any air pockets or microscopic "junk" found in all clay bodies. Also, when firing thick pieces, it is recommended that you allow as much drying out time and kiln "soak" time as possible to help prevent cracking, or damage of piece or kiln in the firing process.

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