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Representing our Blessings on Pottery Inspired by Southwestern Native American Art

Author: Allison Aubry


Crossroads Accelerated Academy

In this unit, students in grades 7th, 8th and 9th will be inspired by the art of Southwest Native American tribes, particularly pottery. The students will learn about Native American art history and the creation of large vessels using hand-building techniques. The students will be taught how to create pottery using a pottery wheel, while also learning hand-building techniques centered around creating pinch pots and coil pots inspired by Native American art. After the completion of the pottery, students will be asked to paint their work with a narrative in mind with an emphasis on symbolism. Students will be inspired by Pueblo Pottery specifically, and investigate their pottery covered in nested symbols, negative space, rain, clouds, feathers, and birds which represent blessings for crops, flowers, and health. The students will create their own wishes and blessings for either Philadelphia or the world.

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Full Unit Text
Unit Content

Introduction / Problem

As a visual arts educator in the city of Philadelphia, I like to create lessons that are culturally relevant to my students while also teaching an art medium and tying in some art history to give my students the most well-rounded art lesson they deserve to have. Unfortunately, a big topic of discussion amongst my students and staff this year has been centered around gun violence and loss in the city of Philadelphia. As I am writing this narrative unit, the city of Philadelphia has reached 500 murders. More than 90% of the victims are black males and in the last decade, the city of Philadelphia has lost over 30,000 black residents (Macdonald).  It has been incredibly hard to continue teaching art without this looming thought of what is happening outside of the walls of my classroom and how I can make a positive impact and change on my students to shift the narrative in Philadelphia. In a sort of serendipitous moment, I was studying the art and culture of Pueblo potters and was completely inspired by their ability to be selfless creators and create symbols and motifs on their pottery that represents blessings and well wishes that they have for their community and the greater world, not just for themselves. I decided to latch onto this idea, learn more about it, and think about how I can invite my students to engage in the fun art of pottery, while also starting a dialogue on what blessings and well wishes we want for our own community and world, specifically Philadelphia. One of the National Core Arts standards is “Connecting” and specifically Anchor #11 states, “Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural, and historical context to deepen understanding” (National Art Education Association). Students may have prior knowledge of what they believe to be Native American art history and culture, and I want to tap into that prior knowledge while also giving them a relatable perspective that can influence their artwork and understanding of how another culture creates with an art medium that we are using. In addition to wanting to focus on Pueblo pottery with my students, I find that teaching about Native American art history in particular can be complex and I have had prior fears of messing it up and wanting to avoid appropriation. After the extensive research and lectures done in our class with Dr. Lucy Fowler Williams, I feel confident in sharing accurate past and modern art history of Southwestern Native American tribes and bringinging it into my classroom. Lastly, I believe that a lot of my students are unaware that Native American art can be art from the past, but also contemporary. The Pueblo tribe has not been removed from their location and are still creaitng art today (Wenger). In my art room, I order the clay from a vendor and we unbox it and immediately create, which is incredibly modern. On the contrary, clay is a raw material that was a natural resource in the Southwest. As the Pueblo potters gather the clay from Earth, they maintain harmony by saying a prayer and thanking the Earth as they remove the clay from the ground as they move it on to its next phase of becoming a functioning vessel (Wenger).

The Knowledge Gained

An interesting parallel I started to think about is how Philadelphia is called “The City of Brotherly Love” and that the community of residents is a family that looks out for each other. This inspired me to dive deep into the family dynamic that exists within the Pueblo community, and specifically centered around the creation of pottery. As a ceramic artist myself who has recently learned how to create pottery on a wheel and by hand for the use of decorative art, I am seriously impressed by the functional vessels created by Southwestern native tribes. Creating pottery within the Pueblo community is built into their tradition and daily tasks, such as we would do laundry each week or doing our dishes. Every Pueblo potter today has learned the skills passed down from their mothers and family members and each has their own way of creating and designing (Guthe, p. 17).  This family tradition is special to the community and my students can relate to having their own family traditions or things passed on from generation to generation that is special to them and make a quick connection to the Pueblo potters. The clay vessels we create in the art room will be for decorative purposes. Since I do not have access to a kiln, the clay will not be fired and will be painted with acrylic paint and sealed with mod podge. For this reason, I will be instructing my students to think of their clay vessel as a a decorative piece that represents our blessings for Philadelphia and it could hold things such as keys, change, or jewelry. It can also not have a function and just be decorative. Clay vessels created by the Pueblo potters have been created for approximately 2,000 years (Wenger). In contrast to why we are creating our pottery, the Pueblo Native Americans created functional pottery for 3 reasons. First, the vessels served as a way to cook and store food or water, while also serving the food or water. Second, the vessels were created for ceremonial purposes. Lastly, the work, especially now in contemporary times, is created for trade and artistic purposes (Wenger).

Pueblo potters start off the creation of their pots by using a mold known as a “puki”. The pukis are the base of the pots (Guthe, p. 27). The vessels are then created with four principal steps which include: the construction and making of the base, the building of the walls, the shaping of the walls, and then finally finishing the vessel. The walls of the vessel are built by creating coils and pasting them on top of each other.  (Guthe, p. 31). In relation to how we construct in the art room, I will have the students roll out a slab of clay, trace a circle template that they will use as their puki. In Pueblo pottery, the puki is eventually removed as it is just a mold that provides a base for construction (Guthe, p. 31). My students will be attaching their coil molds to their puky by using a scratch and attach method of scoring the clay with a knife and attaching the coil on top of the following coil. We will use a homemade slip that I made to ensure that the coils stay pasted together. I create slip by using old clay and mashing it with water and letting it sit overnight. After it sits overnight, I add more water and knead the clay with my hand and break it down until it has the consistency of thick oatmeal and can easily be dipped into with a paintbrush and used as “clay glue”. Native slips are created by digging up the deposited material by hand, placing it in the sun to dry, and then mixing it with water and storing it in other vessels. The consistency is of thin cream and is the color of milk. Native slips come in different colors and are referred to as Santo Domingo Slip, Red Slip, and Orange-Red slip. Each substance, after being fired, gives off a different color and is therefore used for specific purposes when applied to a vessel (Guthe, p. 31). Thinking again of how spiritual the act of creating pottery is for the Pueblo people, I will remind my students that we are one with the clay. Pueblo potters believed that when we die, we go back into the Earth and therefore back into the clay (Fowler). After my students finish stacking their coils on top of each other, they will have the option to keep the coils visible on the outside and inside, or to smooth it all together and mold it as the Pueblo potters do. When Pueblo potters lay all of their coils “rolls” into place, they work both the inside, the outside, and the bottom of the vessel until the rolls disappear and it is a uniform piece (Guthe, p.36). It was amusing for me to read that the Pueblo potters make a note to not add a lot of water in this process because although it is tempting to dip your hands in water to help the clay look smooth and speed up the process, it can cause the piece to crumble and look messy (Guthe, p.36). I will remind my students of this carefully sifted method of creation and remind them to resist the urge to dip their hands in their water or slip. Every time I do clay projects with my students, I truly feel a sense of harmony and relaxation. The student’s hands are busy creating and problem-solving, and teenagers love to get their hands messy as they build and create. Pueblo potters consider the art of creating their vessels to be a spiritual creative process and prayers are often said while creating the pottery (Wenger).

Decorating and Creating our Blessings

In terms of decorating, the Pueblo tribe focuses on painting and carving symbols such as rain, clouds, feathers, birds, signs of movement and flow, prayer, nested symbols, and negative space. These symbols are used to represent blessings for crops, flowers, health, and the general prosperity of their people, family, and the general world. On the band of pottery, common decorations include mammals, reptiles, birds, and human forms (Winifred, p. 119). Since the Pueblo potters live and work in the Southwestern dry climate, a lot of their work circulates around the theme of a prayer for rain to water their crops. This is represented with symbols of mountains, lightning and rain, leaves, flowers, clouds, and seeds showing growth and maturity (Milton, p.9). In some Southwestern tribes, they did not draw or carve symbols, but instead kept their pottery red and black with geometric shapes and patterns using different types of slips and polishing stones (Milton, p.11).  One of the blessings that the Pueblo people prayed for was water.  Water was represented as a serpent known as “The Avanyu” and a rain parrot (Pecastaing). A feather symbol is painted to represent prayer and the importance of praying daily (Pecastaing). Even simple geometric lines could represent water for crops (Pecastaing). Once again, I will redirect my student’s attention to think about where the materials from that we create with. The environment in which the Pueblo potters inhabited greatly influenced the tools and mediums in which they used to create their vessels. In contrast, where I buy our supplies from a vendor, the Pueblo potters are staying harmonious with Earth and grabbing materials locally. The black paint on some of the vessels is made from boiled plants or from an iron-infused crushed rock. Paintbrushes were constructed with the fibers of a yucca plant (NPS).

For this particular unit, I have been thinking of ways to talk to my students about what the current climate is like in Philadelphia. This last year, we have experienced two instances of gun violence inside and outside of our school, unfortunately losing 1 student in November 2021. It is hard to ignore and simultaneously is extremely difficult to talk about. When I read about how the Pueblo Native Americans decorate their functional vessels with representations of their blessings and wishes for their community and the world, I wanted to connect this to my students in a deeper manner. For the purpose of this project, students will look at the symbols and what the pottery represented in terms of blessings and wishes for the community and the world. Instead of selfishly only thinking of themselves as an individual, Pueblo potters think of art as representing the good they wish upon the whole world. The Pueblo history is not without failures even with all of its success, and their history through their artistic tradition will be a highlight for my students (Dittert, p.15).

Teaching Strategies

In my schedule, I see my 7th, 8th, and 9th-grade students every day for the whole year for 45 minutes each. This allows me to be very intentional with the lessons I plan, the daily sketches, and the structure of the class. I love having the students every single day because we can keep the learning going and make meaningful art projects that we can edit and problem-solve each day. Since I see my class every day, I am going to start each class with a daily opening photograph for the students to be inspired by for their work. After our daily inspiration, I am going to do a daily demonstration on both the pottery wheel and a hand-building method. Since our inspiration is Native American Pueblo Pottery, we will focus on hand-building techniques, but I will also let the students use the pottery wheels since we are fortunate enough to have them in my art classroom. After I do the daily demonstration and reminder of how to use tools, students will spend the remainder of the class independently working either on the pottery wheel or hand-building on a slab mat.

One of the teaching strategies I have created for this unit is I made a rotation of students who will be working 1:1 with me on the pottery wheel and who will be working in partners at the tables on the slab mats creating pottery by hand. The students will rotate each week to try different techniques to create their narrative pieces.

Before the students get into their rotation groups, their daily “do now” activity will be to grab their apron and clay tools and look at the Native American art on the board as an inspiration and talk with their rotation partners about how it relates to what we are doing in class and how we will use it as a source of inspiration for our pottery. After the class is settled in and we spend the first 5 minutes setting up, I will go over the expectations for the day and do a demonstration both on the pottery wheel and on the slab mat table and then send the students on their way to create on their own. The last 10-15 minutes will be saved for proper clean-up, as my students are trained in having appropriate studio habits, and clean-up is a part of their grade.

The consistent flash of Southwestern Native American pottery on the screen as the students walk in and allowing them to reflect with their peers is an intentional strategy I will use to have my students keep in the back of their mind the art history and culture we are taking inspiration from.

Classroom Activities

As a visual arts educator, I will be following the national standards for art education. The standards are quite broad and allow for me to have a lot of flexibility in planning the curriculum and how I execute in my classroom based on the availability of supplies and materials. It should be noted that I do not own a kiln and that the pottery I will be creating with my students will not be fired. The clay is air dry clay and will be painted with acrylic paint and then sealed with mod podge.

The materials needed for this project are pottery wheels, clay tools, slab mats, buckets, sponges, pottery clay, circles/slabs to trace, sketchbooks, pencils, reference materials to Southwest Native American Art.

Day 1: Introduction to Clay (Google Slides)
Lesson Objectives:

SWBAT: Understand the fundamentals of clay and how we will use it safely and appropriately in the visual arts classroom. Students will be able to practice studio habits by learning how to care for clay, clean up the art room space, and how to properly use tools before diving into the lesson. SWBAT understands the medium of clay and how it is used before engaging in the art history piece and project creation.

Keywords: clay, pottery, water, clay tools, slab, pinch pot, coils, coil pot, scratch and attach, slip and score, slab mat, pottery wheel, pukis

Direct Instruction:
  1. I will start the unit by having the students grab their sketchbooks and read the board for their daily warm-up, which I have coined as their “Daily Sketch”. The opening prompt will be: Please write down or draw in your sketchbook anything that you know about clay or pottery. I will set a timer for 3 minutes for quiet reflection in their sketchbook.
  2. Next, I will tell the students to stop reflecting in their sketchbooks and to direct their attention to the board for a Google slides presentation on clay. The students will be encouraged to sketch or write down anything they see or hear in the presentation and save questions and comments for the end.
  3. Next, I will be going through the Google slides presentation (the presentation will be linked here when complete) focusing mostly on what clay is and how it functions in the art world, and how it is used to create art projects. After the presentation, I will ask the students if they have comments or questions before proceeding to the demonstration.
  4. For the demonstration, I will be having my students gather at our demo table in the middle of the room. I will be showing the students how clay looks and feels and pass around some fired bowls completed by me in different styles: pinch pot, off the pottery wheel, and coil pots. I will hint to the students to think about how pottery can be constructed to create a functioning vessel to give them inspiration for our projects. I will show students how to roll the clay into a ball and how to store it properly so that it does not dry out between days.
  5. To end class, students will be asked to take a plastic bag and write their name on it and put a clay ball in it to prepare for the next class.

Exit Assessment: Students must show their understanding of clay by carefully and appropriately wrapping their clay in a plastic bag before returning to the class shelf, cleaning each tool they used, and appropriately disposing of any trash, and wiping down their studio station. Students will be reminded that they are being assessed and graded daily on their ability to clean up their space as that is a key studio habit and responsibility that we practice in the art room daily.

Vocabulary: Here is a list of terms I will be introducing to my students the first week of this project as we learn about clay and pottery.

  • Slip: Watered down clay that has been kneaded and made to work as “clay glue”
  • Coils: Rolled out pieces of clay that resemble a snake
  • Coiling: The artistic process of creating walls by stacking coils on top of each other. Artists use the coil and scrape method to unify pot and make it smooth
  • Pueblo: Spanish for “people” or “town”.
  • Puki: a round, bowl-shaped object that is used as a support to create a coil pot.
  • Pinch pot: a pot created by pinching the inside of a clay ball with your thumb and fingers simultaneously
  • Kiln: an oven specifically made to fire clay to change its properties
  • Greenware: clay objects that are not fired
  • Fired: clay objects that have been baked at an extremely high temperature
  • Carving: using a tool to cut deeply into a vessel
  • Yucca: a plant that is native to the Southwest and its fibers are used to create paint brushes by some potters
  • Ancestor: a person who came before
Day 2: Clay Through the Eyes of Native Americans (Past and Present)
Lesson Objectives:

SWBAT: Understand the history of Southwestern Native American pottery, particularly that of the Pueblo tribes, and create connections and inspirations for their pottery project. Students will be able to appreciate the vessels that were created by hand without the use of a pottery wheel and use them as inspiration as they problem-solve with clay to create their functioning vessels/pottery.

Keywords: Southwest Native American, Pueblo Pottery, Pueblo, pinch pot, coil pot, clay

Direct Instruction:
  1. To start class, students will grab their sketchbooks and look at the board to see a pukis and try to guess what it is or what it is used for. The students will draw or write their responses to the vessels/pottery. The timer will be set on the board for 3 minutes. When the timer is up, I will ask the students to stop their silent reflection and I will navigate into the lesson.
  2. Next, I will jump into my presentation on the history of Pueblo Pottery (will be linked here). The focus I will push on the kids is to think about how the vessels were created. I will teach the students what the pottery is made of – the specific type of clay and how it is gathered. This will then be contrasted with contemporary pottery today. I will ask the students to think about the symbols and designs they see and what they think it means. I will emphasize with my students how pottery is a part of who Pueblo people are, how it is a very old tradition and how meaningful it is for them as a community. We will pause for a moment to think about how learning about another culture’s history through art is important in enduring their legacy and telling their stories.
  3. After some viewing of the pottery from the past and present, I will have the students talk about the symbols they saw and brainstorm for 2 minutes with their rotation partners what they think the symbols mean. Next, I will dive into the history of nested symbols, negative space, the use of birds, and other symbols to represent blessings for their crops and prosperity.
  4. For the demonstration of the day, I will show the students a list I wrote of some of my dreams and blessings for the whole world/our planet. For example, “I am hopeful that the world can find peace. I want everyone to find moments and spots of similarity even when we may disagree or be from different backgrounds”. After sharing this list with my students, I will show them how I generated symbols and motifs that could represent these blessings or dreams on my pottery. Some symbols I will be designing will include some geometric and non-geometric shapes to represent peace in the world. Pueblo potters do not individually focus on themselves when thinking of blessings and creating pottery, but more so thinking of what can be better for the community and praying for people around the world.
  5. Next, students will have independent work time to think of their blessings and dreams and start designing them in their sketchbooks for reference. I will remind the students that having this pre-work in their sketchbook will give them special inspiration as they create their vessels with these dreams and ideas in mind. I will ask them – does knowing what you are creating the vessel for (or what it will represent) make it more meaningful for you? How do we think the Native American tribes view this ritual / art-making?

Exit Assessment: The students will be asked to think about how symbols, materials,   and forms can represent bigger ideas in art and give viewers a way to look at the art and interpret what it means. For example, we are creating pottery with and decorating with our “blessings symbols” that represent our bigger ideas such as peace brought to Philadelphia, the world healing from the COVID-19 pandemic, good health for all, etc. Students will be asked to clean up their materials appropriately and reminded that their sketchbooks will be checked for participation in today’s activity.

Day 3: Pueblo Influence, Inspiration, and not Appropriation

Lesson Objectives: To continue on our lesson from yesterday, I will have the students understand the historical elements of Pueblo pottery. In particular, I will have my students see that Pueblo pottery is non-linear. Family is very important to the Pueblo people and I want to think about traditions within their own family that have been passed through generations after they learn that Pueblo believes their ancestors are always present, with old pottery and new pottery having a direct relationship to each other.

SWBAT: Students will be able to generate ideas in their sketchbook on blessings and wishes that they have for Philadelphia / our / their community or the world. Students will be able to recognize the symbols the Pueblo Native Americans used to represent their blessings in particular.

Keywords: Ancestors, Pueblo pottery, Native Americans, clay, pukis, coil pot, slab, clay tools, pinch pot, hand build, blessings, wishes

Exit Assessment: Before class ends, I will ask a few students to volunteer and share what symbols they came up with to represent our hopes, blessings, and wishes for Philadelphia / our community / the world.

Day(s) 4-8: Pueblo Pottery Inspiration, Creation Time / Pinch Pot / Coil Pots

Lesson Objectives: The students will be creating their version of a pukis by creating a circle base for their coil pots and then creating their coils to stack on their pottery. When the students have finished their coil pot, they can move on to creating a pinch pot. For students that finish both sets of pottery skills, they can help their peers, clean clay tools, or draw their symbols and ideas in their sketchbooks.

SWBAT: Students will be able to create a coil pot by creating a circle base similar to a pukis and stacking their coils on top. Students will be able to create a pinch pot using their hands. Students will be able to use clay tools appropriately and safely. Students will be able to engage in appropriate studio habits.

Keywords: pukis, coil pot, pinch pot, clay, clay tools

Exit Assessment: Since the students will be busy creating daily, they will be asked to show their ability to appropriately clean up after themselves and take care of the clay tools and the art studio space.

Day(s) 8-12: Symbolism & Motifs Introduction, Painting & Glazing

Lesson Objectives: In their sketchbook, students will have written down or sketched out what their wishes for Philadelphia or the world are. We will explore and look at the symbols that the Pueblo potters used to represent their blessings and wishes for the community. We will talk about how artists use the elements of art and principles of design to create new symbols, drawings, and ideas to represent an idea in their art. I will have students focus on the art element of “line” and “shape” and think about how they can transform different lines and shapes to form a symbol or motif. After they have established their ideas, students will be able to carve or paint their designs onto their pottery. After the painting is complete, students will glaze their pottery with mod podge to seal the work. I do not have a kiln, so my students use acrylic paint on their pottery and then seal it with mod podge to make it shiny and preserve their work as best as possible.

SWBAT: Students will be able to create symbols and motifs to represent blessings for Philadelphia, the world, and the community inspired by the artwork of Pueblo potters. Students will be able to carve designs into their clay pottery. Students will be able to paint their designs on their pottery using acrylic paint and paintbrushes. Students will be able to glaze their work using mod podge. Students will be able to practice appropriate studio habits in terms of cleaning and respectful use of art supplies.

Keywords: Pueblo pottery, clay, glaze, mod podge, acrylic paint, pottery, carving, design, symbols, motifs, representational art, blessings, wishes

Exit Assessment: The exit assessment for this portion will have the students talk about the symbols they created on their pottery and what it represents. The students will also be required to appropriately clean supplies and maintain our studio as a part of their exit from the art room daily.

Day(s) 12-14: Gallery Walk, Reflection, Critique

Lesson Objectives: After all of my students finish their pottery projects, I will ask them to display their pottery on our tables and we will engage in a gallery walk. First, I will have the students walk around with a timer displayed on the board to countdown when we will stop the gallery walk. After the students have successfully viewed each other’s work, I will have a few students volunteer to talk about their pottery and their process. They will be encouraged to talk about how they came up with their symbols and what blessings they represent. Students will be encouraged to ask questions and make connections to our art history lesson on Pueblo pottery. At this point in the year in class, my students have been well trained on how to critique artwork and participate in a gallery walk.

SWBAT: Students will be able to participate in an engaging dialogue in their art creations and the art of their peers by doing a gallery walk in the classroom and viewing each other’s pottery. Students will be able to critique other students’ art and also self-reflect on their own and their processes. Students will be able to talk about their art. Students will be able to relate their art experience to the history and culture that we learned of the Pueblo potters.

Keywords: Gallery walk, pottery, Pueblo pottery, critique, self-reflection, art gallery, art

Exit Assessment: Students will be given a post-it note to write down what they learned and place it on the dry-erase whiteboard in the front of the room as a part of the gallery walk.

Extension, Finish Early: In the art room, especially during longer projects, students will finish at different paces. For students that are finished ahead of schedule, I will be having them extend their thinking by looking at Pueblo revolt art. In terms of extending their thinking to situations that are familiar and relevant to them, I will give students a football helmet template and have them redesign a logo and team name for American sports teams. These students will be given articles to read about the controversy surrounding the Washington football team’s previous name and relate it to their understanding of Native American history in this country, their understanding of who the Pueblo people were, and what the Pueblo revolt was. The students can use the same symbols they used to represent blessings and wishes for the Philadelphia community and the world to create a new football team name and design.


Guthe, C. Eugen. (1925). Pueblo pottery making: a study at the village of San Ildefonso. New Haven: Published for the Department of Archeology, Phillips Academy, Andover, Mass., by the Yale University Press.

The author, Eugen Guthe, takes a deep dive into pottery making at San Ildefonso, a Pueblo pottery community located in New Mexico. The study contains an ample amount of images that describe the type of clay used in the pottery, the various forms of decoration, and how the pottery is formed and created. Guthe examines how the clay is harvested and collected by the Pueblo people in various parts of the region and how it reacts differently to air, water and sun. The different types of slip and paint applied to Pueblo pottery are also observed.

Chapman, K. Milton. (1938). Pueblo Indian pottery of the post-Spanish period. Santa Fe, N.M.: Laboratory of Anthropology.

Chapman explores how Pueblo pottery is not always scattered with symbolism and story-telling. In one chapter, Chapman includes images and information on how fine clay slip is rubbed onto pottery using a polishing stone and fired to turn a deep red or a shiny black. This is in contrast to the Pueblo pottery that was created with symbolism with dominant themes to ask for rain for crops and other blessings.

Dittert, Alfred E., et al. Generations in Clay: Pueblo Pottery of the American Southwest. Northland Press, 1980.

Dittert explores the history of Pueblo Pottery and also examines their successes and failures over the years. Also, the geographical history of the area explains the use of different clay and slips that are used.

Austin, M. (1934). Indian pottery of the Rio Grande. [Pasadena, Calif.]: [Esto Pub. Co.].

The author explores how the best pottery is found in the area of the Rio Grande because of the need for a deep pot to hold boiling water for corn. The other tribes may not have focused on creating such beautifully done pots because the function they needed for food was more reliant on barbequing and using animal rawhide materials. Aside from using the pottery for boiling corn, the tribes in the areas of New Mexico and Arizona are mostly desert and rely heavily on preserving water in these large vessels.

Gladwin, W., Sayles, E. B. (Edwin Booth)., Haury, E. W. (Emil Walter)., Gladwin, H. S. (Harold Sterling). (19301933). Some southwestern pottery types. Globe, Ariz.: Priv. printed for the Medallion, Gila pueblo.

The authors of this text provide wonderful images of different types of southwestern Native pottery and give great descriptions of the type of vessel shape, the type of clay and slip used, the form of paint applied, and descriptions of each piece. The images and sections of pottery provide an ample amount of information for a classroom looking to understand why different types of vessels were created, how they were created, and for what purpose.

MacDonald, Tom. “Philly Officials Address Gun Violence Epidemic as Nearly 500 People Are Murdered.” WHYY, WHYY, 24 Nov. 2021,

As a Philadelphia resident and a School District of Philadelphia teacher, I have become hyper-aware of the increase in violence in our city and how it affects my students. This article explains the horrifying numbers of how gun violence is particularly affecting the black community.

Pecastaing, Nick. “Pueblo Pottery Meaning and Symbolism.” Indian Pueblo Store, Indian Pueblo Store, 7 May 2021,

Wenger, Lauren. “Of the Earth: Pueblo Pottery.” Visit The Hershey Story Museum, 17 Feb. 2016,

This article gives a brief overview of the history of the Pueblo potter’s and their process of creating vessels.

“National Visual Arts Standards.” National Art Education Association,

As an art educator, I rely on the National Art Education Association’s visual arts standards. These standards guide me into how I create my curriculum. I read the standards and then work backwards. First, I think of a medium I want to teach going with the standard, and then I move on to figuring out the associated art history and culture associated with the medium.

“We Grow Amazing Art Teachers.” The Art of Education University, 15 Dec. 2021,

This is a great website for art educators and even non-art educators to use. There are endless resources on here, including the worksheets I shared in my appendix that can be used as a handout for students as they create their clay pottery.

“Welcome to the Clay Studio.” The Clay Studio,

This is another great website I have used to retrieve the latest information on best practices when using clay in the classroom. The Clay Studio also provides free printable posters and flyers on how to create different things in clay. Below, I included some of their exemplars from their website.

“Pottery of the Ancestral Pueblo.” National Parks Service, U.S. Department of the Interior,

This website is a great resource to serve as a starting point for educators to understand what is being offered at a national level in terms of curriculum for Native Americans. I referenced some of the information in my lesson plans.


“National Visual Arts Standards.” National Art Education Association,

  • Anchor Standard #1. Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work.
  • Anchor Standard #2. Organize and develop artistic ideas and work.
  • Anchor Standard #3. Refine and complete artistic work.
  • Anchor Standard #4. Select, analyze and interpret artistic work for presentation.
  • Anchor Standard #5. Develop and refine artistic techniques and work for presentation.
  • Anchor Standard #6. Convey meaning through the presentation of artistic work.
  • Anchor Standard #7. Perceive and analyze artistic work.
  • Anchor Standard #8. Interpret intent and meaning in artistic work.
  • Anchor Standard #9. Apply criteria to evaluate artistic work.
  • Anchor Standard #10. Synthesize and relate knowledge and personal experiences to make art.
  • Anchor Standard #11. Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural and historical context to deepen understanding.