Pretend Porcelain

Pretend Porcelain lesson plan

What kinds of designs have you seen on dinner plates, teapots, and vases? Porcelain is just one of many Chinese inventions.

  • 1.

    Many items we use everyday were invented in China centuries ago. Find out how porcelain has been made for more than 2000 years. You will find that it traditionally is decorated with blue and white designs of bridges, tea houses, boats, and willow trees.

  • 2.

    Use Crayola® Air-Dry Clay to make decorative replicas of Chinese dinnerware to show what you are learning about Chinese history, inventions, and traditional designs. Working on a clean dry surface, roll a ball of clay. Then decide what you want to sculpt—perhaps a plate, bowl, or teapot. If you change your mind, add a little water and start again!

  • 3.

    Plate. Flatten the ball. Use a craft stick to cut out a plate. Pinch the outside edge with your fingers to create a rim.

  • 4.

    Bowl, vase, teapot, or cups. Push your thumb into the middle of a clay ball. Keep your pointer finger on the outside. Pinch and shape until you have a pleasing form. Make handles or a spout by rolling small snake-like shapes. Scratch the pot surface with a craft stick. Slightly dampen the area with your finger to attach a handle or spout. Roll out and cut a lid to fit.

  • 5.

    Smooth the surfaces with damp fingers. Air-dry your pretend porcelain for 2 to 5 days.

  • 6.

    Cover your art area with paper. Decorate your sculptures in traditional Chinese blue designs with Crayola Tempera Paints and Brushes. Air-dry the paint before you prepare a display showing these and other Chinese inventions.


  • LA: Read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grade level text complexity band independently and proficiently.
  • LA: Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.
  • LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
  • LA: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.
  • LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.
  • SS: Describe ways in which language, stories, folktales, music, and artistic creations serve as expressions of culture and influence behavior of people living in a particular culture.
  • SS: Describe how we depend workers with specialized jobs and the ways in which they contribute to the productions and exchange of goods and services.
  • SS: Explore ways that language, art, music, belief systems, and other cultural elements may facilitate global understanding or lead to misunderstanding.
  • VA: Select media, techniques, an processes; analyze what makes them effective or not effective in communicating ideas; and reflect upon the effectiveness of choices.
  • VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of experiences and ideas.
  • VA: Integrate visual, spatial, and temporal concepts with content to communicate intended meaning in their artworks.
  • VA: Analyze contemporary and historic meanings in specific artworks through cultural and aesthetic inquiry.


  • Possible classroom resources include: Fantastic Inventions and Inventors: True Stories from Ancient China by Kang Zhu; Made in China: Ideas and Inventions from Ancient China by Suzanne Williams; The Chinese (Technology of the Ancients) by Kim Dramer
  • Invite a local potter to visit with the class. The expert should focus on how pottery is sculpted, fired, and decorated. Students compose questions for the expert prior to the visit. Afterwards, students post learning to a class blog.
  • Students investigate Chinese imports to the United States from the 17th to 19th centuries. What types of items were imported? Why did U.S. citizens not purchase these same items made in America? Students discuss the items and analyze why these were the choices for purchase.
  • For a holiday, such as Mother's Day, students use their knowledge of porcelain and pottery to create an original vase as a gift for their mothers. Incorporate a symbol that represents motherhood, love, etc. on the pottery piece. Prepare it for giving by wrapping it in homemade wrapping paper.