Castles in Clay

Here is a very successful clay project that my Grade 5s worked on last month!

My Grade 5 theme is Medieval and Renaissance art, and I thought it might be neat to look at castle architecture and build some castles out of clay. I got some inspiration from a picture of a clay castle that I saw on this K-8 Blog.

I only see each of my Grade 5s classes for about 12 weeks (1 term) and during that time, we try to explore as many different art materials as possible. With that in mind, I chose compress the project into fewer classes by opting to do the facade of a castle (rather than a 3-D model), and using air-dry clay. In this lesson, I also wanted to focus on as many ceramics skills as possible: slab-making, texture application, and the score and slip technique.

The first thing I had students do when they came into art the first day of the project was to have them draw "the castle of their dreams" in their sketchbooks. This really got everyone's creativity flowing. Then I showed them a short Prezi full of castle architecture images to get them even more inspired.

I showed students how to throw and roll out a slab of clay. They lightly drew the outline of their castle with a wooden stylus and used exacto blades to make nice clean cut outs of their castles.(I also had some pieces of canvas pre-cut for students to do their clay work on so that it wouldn't stick to the art tables.)
NB: Next time, I would have students make their slabs about twice as thick as we had some unfortunate breakages with castles that were too thin and fragile.

Then students started to divide up the castle and added texture to different areas. I have some great texture plates in my classroom, as well as scraps of textured material that worked wonderfully.

Finally, students added on the windows, doors, and other details with the score and slip technique, which I demonstrated.


Work in progress....

The castles were left to dry and then painted with acrylics and coated with gloss in the next class. Metallic paint worked very well on the air dry clay.


Finally, the castles were displayed together and propped up with these great little acrylic easels.

Here are the amazing results:


The possibilities are endless for lesson extensions and cross-curricular connections! (ie. making figurines to go with the castle, writing a story or poem etc....)


  1. I really like this idea! I pin on my Pinterst board! It's very original and your students are very talented!

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