Animal Journeys

Lesson Plan


Students will use an animal of their choosing and imagine that animal moving around and through Hubert Candelario‘s Jar. They will write about (or share orally) the animal’s experiences and use their ideas to design a “jar with holes,” which they will build for their animal.

Intended Age Group

Elementary (grades K-5)

Length of Lesson

Two 45 minute lessons

Standards Area

Visual Arts


Students will be able to:

  • describe at least two steps of the process used by the artist to create the Jar;
  • use their imaginations to interact with a work of art;
  • communicate in writing (or orally for younger students) what they have imagined; and
  • use sufficient coil pottery skills to make a jar of their own.


  1. Warm-up: Have students call out as many different animals as they can think of in two minutes. For younger students, call out some of the animals and have them move around like those animals. For older students, call out some of the animals and have them describe the movement of each. (Older students tend to be shyer when moving their bodies in front of peers – use your discretion and knowledge of your students in deciding which activity is appropriate.)
  2. Show students Hubert Candelario‘s Jar. Have them share some of their impressions and observations about the jar.
  3. Have students imagine they are an animal moving around, in-and-out, and through the jar. Have them draw a path of their movements on photocopies of the pot to help give them a sense of the complexity of the shape and structure of the piece. Tell the students to answer the following questions about their animal’s experience with the pot (they should be prepared to share their answers with a partner):
    1. What is their animal looking for? Anything; or is it just exploring?
    2. What does their animal see?
    3. Is their animal having fun; or, is the movement too difficult or boring?
  4. Older students may write down descriptions of their journey and answers to the questions; younger students can share their ideas with a partner.

Day 2

  1. Warm-up: Give students some air-dry clay to play around with and to get a feel for the medium. Call out different shapes for them to make: sphere (circle), square, snake, triangle, blob, etc. These pieces of clay can be reused if not too dry.
  2. Return to the picture of the jar and talk about the process used to make it (information found in the “Details” tab of the About the Art section); engage the students in a conversation about the design and technical challenges the artist must have faced.
  3. Tell the students they will be making smaller versions of the jar for the animal they chose the day before.
    1. Their design should have the holes placed in a pattern that would be fun for their animal to move around.
    2. Allow them to sketch several ideas, share these ideas with a partner (including a rationale for where the holes will be located), and give/receive feedback for the final design.
  4. Building the jars:
    1. Demonstrate the coil pottery method (You can watch this video to get an idea of what to do if you are not familiar with the method).
    2. Remind students that they will cut the hole-patterns they sketched out earlier.
    3. Tell them to have fun – they will face challenges but should not get discouraged if it’s difficult.
    4. The goal is to learn what it feels like to work with and manipulate the clay in different ways to achieve a particular design.
  5. Have students show each other their jars in small groups, talking about their intentions, successes, failures, and overall feelings about working with the clay (good and bad!).


  • Paper or journals for each student to write down thoughts
  • Air-dry clay that is soft enough not to crumble when coiled and smoothed (6-8 oz. per student)
  • Newspaper or towels to cover work surfaces
  • Round cookie cutters of different sizes
  • Assorted tools to cut holes in the jars they will build (e.g. plastic knives, wood pottery tools, sticks from outside, etc.)
  • One black and white photocopy of the jar for each student
  • A video on the coil pottery method if you are not familiar with it
  • About the Art sectoin on Hubert Candelario’s Jar (included with the lesson plan) or student access to this part of Creativity Resource online
  • One color copy of the jar for every four students, or the ability to project the image onto a wall or screen


CO Standards

  • Visual Arts
    • Invent and Discover to Create
    • Observe and Learn to Comprehend
    • Relate and Connect to Transfer
    • Envision and Critique to Reflect
  • Language Arts
    • Oral Expression and Listening
    • Writing and Composition
    • Reading for All Purposes

21st Century Skills

  • Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking & Reasoning
  • Information Literacy
  • Invention
  • Self-Direction

About the Art




Hubert Candelario, United States

Who Made It?

“There are only four potters at San Felipe Pueblo,” says Hubert Candelario, “and I’m one. The other three are married to potters from other pueblos, and that’s how they learned. Me? I just had a feel for it.”

Hubert Candelario was born in 1965 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Before becoming a professional artist, he studied architectural drafting and design at the Pheonix Institute of Technology in Arizona. In the 1980s he developed an interest in clay and began experimenting with pottery techniques and form. He was inspired by the work of Maria Martinez (whose work is also on the Creativity Resource website) and was fascinated by ancient Pueblo pottery designs. Because there are very few potters from San Felipe Pueblo, Candelario did not learn techniques from others, but experimented with his own personal style. “As a contemporary Native American Indian potter I have no limits, only choices,” he says. Today, Candelario lives in Albuquerque where he works on his pottery full-time.

What Inspired It?

After learning the basic techniques used to create a piece of pottery, Candelario used his experience in structure and design to move beyond the boundaries of traditional pottery. When speaking about a similar “Holey Pot” Candelario said, “I have always loved structure and design, fields that I originally studied at school. While making this pot, I thought about ways to incorporate structural principles into the design. I began cutting away holes in a traditional pot to see how far I could push the limits of structure. It was a technical challenge that succeeded.”



The clay and slip that Candelario uses contain gold colored flakes of mica that give the finished pot a glowing and sparkling surface.

Round Holes
Round Holes

Perfectly round holes pierce the jar on all sides. According to Candelario, “the holes are like nature; they are the structure of cells.” He first forms the jar by using a traditional method of coiling clay from a bowl base. After letting the clay dry for a few days, he uses a circular template to draw circles and then carves the holes using an Xacto knife. He carves the bottom of the pot first, then turns it over and carves the top. If cracks occur at any point, he will start over from the beginning.

Funding for lesson plans provided by a grant from the Morgridge Family Foundation. Additional funding provided by the William Randolph Hearst Endowment for Education Programs, and Xcel Energy Foundation. We thank our colleagues at the University of Denver Morgridge College of Education.