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Clay Animals: Imaginary Pets


Students will explore imaginary pets through drawing and clay. They will invent a pet and translate their idea into two- and three-dimensional representations. They will be challenged to create a sculpture that is balanced and freestanding. Students will add details and texture to enhance their imaginary pets. Students will write a fairy tale about their imaginary pet.

Grade Level



Drawing, Clay, Sculpture

  • Teaching Guide


Materials and Tools

  • Ebony pencils
  • Black tempera paint
  • Self-hardening clay
  • Drawing paper – 12 x 18”
  • Drawing paper – 9 x 12”
  • Paintbrushes
  • Plastic rolling pins
  • Clay tools 
  • Cardboard for templates
  • Sponges
  • Plastic forks
  • Trays
  • Ziploc bags
  • Metallic paint
  • Paint cups


  • Students will create a clay sculpture that demonstrates:
    • Additive and subtractive techniques
    • Tapping, rolling, coiling, pinching, and pulling
    • Attaching shapes through scoring and smoothing 
    • Incising
    • Textures with a variety of lines
  • Students will observe, analyze, and interpret lines and shapes.
  • Students will learn how to work and think like an artist.
  • Students will use their imagination to invent a pet.
  • Students will use black paint to create a gestural painting, including visual texture.


Greater Nicoya vessel in the form of a jaguar, AD 400-1350, Costa Rica, pottery, Museum of the American Indian
Terracotta zoomorphic askos (vessel) with antlers, ca. 1725-1600 BC, Cypriot, terracotta, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Clay relief tiles from Mexico
John Balistreri, Signal, stoneware, colored slip, glaze, 2014
Pablo Picasso, Wood Owl (Chouette), painted earthenware, 1968
Pablo Picasso, Two-Headed Vase with Faun’s Head and an Owl, painted earthenware, 1961
Tim Otterness, Life Underground, bronze, 2001, New York City 14th St Station
William Wegman, Stationary Figures, mosaic mural, 2018, New York City 23rd St Station


From Mud to House by Bertram T. Knight

Frida and her Animalitos by Monica Brown (Author) and John Parra (Illustrator)

The Three Little Pigs


For Multilingual Learners

  • Pre-teach vocabulary
  • Model
  • Use prompts and/or sentence starters
  • Use cooperative grouping
  • Use multimodality tasks
  • Use engaging texts and images
    and rich content
  • Use Total Physical Response (TPR)
  • Employ high-utility vocabulary and academic language 
  • Build social and academic language and knowledge through discussion 
  • Build language and knowledge through writing
  • Repeat vocabulary words as they are introduced


Clay Animals: Imaginary Pets

Written by Traci Talasco, Artist Instructor

Studio in a School NYC Team
Belinda Blum, Artist Instructor
Andrea Burgay, Associate Director
Julie Applebaum, Senior Director
Hasna Muhammad, Ed.D., Chair, Board of Directors, Studio in a School Association
Alison Scott-Williams, President, Studio in a School NYC 

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