Around the Bend

Lesson Plan


Students will examine the colors, patterns, shape, and purpose of the Large Jug (Aryballo). Students will then draw a simple design on both a flat and curved surface and explain the challenges of drawing on a curved surface.

Intended Age Group

Early childhood (ages 3-5)

Length of Lesson

One 30 minute lesson

Standards Area

Visual Arts


Students will be able to:

  • describe the artistic characteristics of Large Jug (Aryballo);
  • compare the processes of drawing on flat and curved surfaces; and
  • explain the challenges of creating art on a curved surface.


  1. Display Large Jug (Aryballo) and invite the children to examine it closely. What do they notice? How would the children describe the shape of this object? What kinds of animals and other living things do the children see on the Aryballo? What kinds of repeating shapes or patterns do they see on the vessel? What do the children think was the purpose of this jug?
  2. Pass around a few objects with curved surfaces such as a golf ball, tennis ball, and a bottle. Invite the children to feel the objects and ask them: What do these objects have in common? What is different?
  3. Ask the children to reflect on the following questions: Do you think it would be easier or harder to paint or draw on a curved surface or on a flat surface? Why? Discuss how decorating a round or curved object can be very difficult for artists.
  4. Tell the children that they will have a chance to compare decorating both flat and curved surfaces. Distribute pieces of art paper along with colored markers. Have the children create a simple design on the art paper, such as their first name or an easy-to-draw picture.
  5. Then provide each child with a Styrofoam cup. Tell the children to make a design on the cup similar to the one they just created on the piece of art paper.
  6. Invite the children to reflect on their experience. Ask them: Was it more difficult drawing on the flat piece of paper or drawing on the curved Styrofoam cup? Why? Which was more fun? If you had to draw a really big picture, would you want to draw it on flat paper or a curved surface?
  7. Remind the students that they are now experienced artists just like the artist who made the Aryballo! Be sure to display their matching paper drawings and Styrofoam cup art pieces around the classroom!


  • Assortment of objects with curved surfaces (e.g. tennis ball, golf ball, bottle)
  • Colored markers
  • Pieces of drawing paper
  • Styrofoam cups
  • About the Art section on Large Jug (Aryballo)
  • One color copy of the jug 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
  • Language Arts
    • Oral Expression and Listening

21st Century Skills

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

About the Art

Large Jug (Aryballo)

Aryballos with insects

A.D. 1400-1532


Who Made It?

We don’t know who crafted this jug, but because of its shape, we know that the artist lived during the time of the Inca Empire. Vessels such as these were made in both large and small sizes. The artist formed the jug out of clay, smoothed the surface, and then decorated it with colored slips that were made up of a mixture of clay, water, and mineral pigments. Finally, the surface of the vessel was burnished or polished before firing.

Ceramics made by craftsmen in the workshops of Cuzco, the Inca capital, were highly prized as tangible evidence of imperial prestige. Local imitations were produced throughout the vast territory conquered by the Inca, which extended from Ecuador in the north to Chile in the south. Numerous ethnic groups and independent political entities were not only conquered but also effectively integrated into a centrally administered political and economic system.

What Inspired It?

Vessels of this shape were used to hold liquids, especially chicha, a kind of beer made from corn. Very large vessels like this one would probably have been used on festive, ceremonial occasions. In the Inca Empire, commoners paid tribute to their local lords, religious authorities, and imperial administrators in the form of labor and military service. These authorities reciprocated with food, clothing, and other necessities. Most importantly, leaders held feasts for their tributaries, providing copious amounts of chicha. Serving this beer from an elaborately decorated jar such as this emphasized the wealth and generosity of the Inca state. Inca vessels of this shape are called aryballos because of their resemblance to similarly shaped ancient Greek ceramics.


Painted Decorations
Painted Decorations

The painted decorations on this vessel are particularly elaborate. Red and black flamingos form lines around the neck. The front of the vessel is divided into three zones: a vertical central panel with a diaper pattern (an all-over diamond-shaped pattern) that is flanked by two horizontally subdivided sections filled with insects and flowers.

The Lug
The Lug

The lug, found on the vessel’s shoulder at the base of the neck, is shaped like a jaguar head with a toothy mouth.

Ingenious Design
Ingenious Design

The handles and lug, along with a strap, were used to transport the jug. The strap was looped through one handle, up over the top of the lug, and then down through the other handle. The person carrying the jug used his back for support and tied the two free ends of the strap around his waist.

Holes at the Rim
Holes at the Rim

There are two small holes under the rim of the vessel that would have been used to secure a lid (now missing).

Pointed Base
Pointed Base

The pointed base was intended to be set in a depression in a dirt floor.

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.