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Archive for the ‘Lesson Plans’ Category

Florida Ruby-Throated Hummingbird Migration – Hummingbird Feeder Lesson Plan

Thursday, October 17th, 2013


(Click to Download Printable PDF document of complete instructions)

Florida Ruby-Throated Hummingbird Migration

Grade Level: 1-6

Subject: Science

Topic: Ruby-Throated “Hungry bird” Hummingbird Migration


By completing this lesson, students will learn about the Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds migration, and in the process demonstrate their problem solving, creative and critical thinking, math, geography, science, and observation. They will be able to connect to the Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds by creating the nourishment and feeder humming birds will need for their yearly migration.


Structure: Class Discussion

Purpose: Build Understanding


Time to Migrate!
Each fall and spring, the Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds travel to and from their Southern Florida wintering grounds to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
We will explore questions like these:

  • Why do hummingbirds risk a dangerous long-distance migration?
  • Where do they go? How fast and how far can they fly?
  • What do they need to survive and how can we help them?


Structure: Class Activity

Purpose: Connect to Daily Life


Hungry Birds!
If you burned energy at the same rate as a hummingbird, how much of your favorite food would you need to eat per day? Calculate the number of calories per ounce a hummingbird needs in a day (Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds need 10 calories per day and weigh 1/10 of an ounce.)
Figure your own weight in ounces.

  • If you burned food at the same rate (calories/ounce) as a hummingbird does, how many calories would you need per day?
  • How many calories are in one serving of your favorite food?
  • How much of this food would you need to eat per day?

Structure: Class Activity

Purpose: Connect to Daily Life


Seeing Red!
Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds rely on nectar as a major part of their diet. You can attract Ruby-Throated hummingbirds to your yard and help them along on their journey by providing a red tipped hummingbird feeder with sugar water.


You will need a plastic water bottle (16 fl), 1 hummingbird feeder tip and string.
You will need 1 part white granulated sugar to 4 parts water.
Boil the nectar for up to two minutes. Cool the mixture before adding to the feeder. You can store unused nectar in the refrigerator for up to weeks.

Hang you feeder where you can observe it and where it is safe and accessible to the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird. Clean your feeder every few days. Nectar will spoil rapidly when temperatures are over 60 degrees. To clean, rinse the feeder with hot water.


  • Plastic water bottle (16 fl)
  • String
  • Axner Hummingbird feeder tip, stopper, & glass tube (A132301)
  • Nectar

The object of this activity is to create a holder for a 12 oz water bottle fitted with an Axner Hummingbird feeder tip. The holder will cover the bottle, provide a way to hang it and make it visually stimulating for hummingbirds. The lesson also contains information on how to fill and maintain a healthy humming bird feeder and how to make the surrounding environment more “hummer friendly” by including nectar rich flowers in the landscape.

Choose a water or soft drink bottle with an opening which fits the plug of the Axner humming bird Feeder Tip.

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Trace around the base of the bottle, then measure the diameter of the circle.  Add the shrinkage percentage of the clay to assess the size the holder must be in order to accommodate the bottles length and girth when the holder is fired.

Wrap the bottle in a garbage bag to increase the size.  The bag should be loosely wrapped and secured with low tack masking tape.  (Later the bag will be pulled out.)

Use a string to measure the circumference of the wrapped bottle. Knot or mark it to indicate the correct length.

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Using thickness strips or the Axner Mini Roller, roll out two slabs.  One that is wide and long enough to be rolled around the bag swaddled bottle and another approximately half as wide.

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Cut the slab to length (just a little longer than your string) using an angled cut on both edges.  This will create more surface area for the clay to adhere to, resulting in a stronger seam.

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 Slip and score the two sides of the slab.  Roll the slab around the bag covered bottle and press the scored and slipped edges together.  Work the clay to create a strong join.

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Make a circle of paper towel and place on the second slab. Set the cylinder vertically on the other slab and paper towel, leaving a ½ inch margin on all sides.  Step back and assess if it is leaning at all.  If so, cut it at the bottom to create a vertical cylinder.  Reach inside the cylinder and gently remove the bag and bottle.  Then carefully work the inside seam together.


Cut around the cylinder, leaving ½ to ¾ inch extra all the way around depending on the thickness of the slab-this is the top of the lid.  Cut two strips from the remaining slab, join with a diagonal seam, then slip and score the lid edge. Attach the lid lip, checking to be sure the lid is snug.  You may then flip over

carefully and decorate the lid to match your feeder theme. Place a paper towel inside of the lid, tucking it carefully into the corner. Place the lid on the cylinder.


Cover the raised elements of your lid with a piece of paper towel.  Add two or three scrap strips of clay to protect the raised elements of the lid design.  Using a square of card board, flip the lid to expose the inside.  Carefully make a hole in the center which must accommodate the two thicknesses of the rope (and the shrinkage). Place the cylinder into the lid, leaving the open end up.



IMG_1082  IMG_1084

IMG_1086Cut darts into the open end as shown.  The object is to make a curved end to facilitate drainage of any condensate which accumulates on the inside of the container and to create and opening which will accommodate the bottle lip (and the shrinkage). Use slip and score and work the edges to create a smooth curve.

You may want to add some clay to the inside of the opening edge.  Just be sure to work it in.




The result should be a smooth opening ready to decorate according to your theme.





IMG_1095-1099  IMG_1100

Add the lugs for the hanging rope as shown. They should accommodate two thicknesses of rope (don’t forget shrinkage).  The rope can be knotted at the bottom or two large beads can be used to hold the rope in place.

IMG_1102  IMG_1106-1104  IMG_1107


Shown above is one technique to make flowers.  Use your thumb and finger as a pattern and your other thumb and finger to ‘cut” around them, then refine the uniform sized pieces you create.  Roll balls then cut in half to create flower centers. Use slip and score method to assemble flower petals and the wet texture tool to create texture on flower center.

Be sure the decorations do not interfere with the feeder tip or the hanging rope.


Visit December 1st for the glazing and assembly portion of this lesson….

Florida’s Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds: Tiny Travelers

The tiny, iridescent feathered hummingbird flaps it’s wings 80 times per second, making a humming noise true to it’s name. Hummingbirds live exclusively  in the Americas, ranging from Alaska in the North America to Chile in South America. The Ruby-throated hummingbird is the most populated of the over 17 different species of hummingbirds in Florida and the eastern United States. The Florida Ruby-Throated Hummingbird travels from Florida to Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula each fall, nearly 500 miles non-stop. In the spring they fly back from the Yucatan to spend the summer in the United States.  Here in Florida we see the tiny travelers bulk up for this long journey around late July to take flight at the end of October. In the countries of the Yucatan Peninsula the hummers begin their journey back starting late February to Mid-May.

Normally, a humming bird is the size of the average adult thumb and weighs less than a penny. They travel thousands of miles a year, eating nectar, insects and  finding safe spots to rest and refuel along the way. The hummingbird’s feet are used for perching only, not for walking or hopping. They hover, a unique bird behavior,  by flapping their wings in figure 8 pattern. The Hummingbird is the only birds who have the ability to fly forwards, backwards and even upside down for short journeys. Hummers use an incredible amount of energy for their size. During normal flight, their wings beat up to 50 times per second for females and 70 times per second for males. During their migration journey they can beat their wings up to 200 times per second.

All this activity requires tremendous amounts of energy. Hummers will consume about half their body weight in nectar daily, visiting up to 1000 flowers and eating 2000 tiny insects. They can feed five to eight times each hour, up to a minute at each feeding.  Like humans they require protein but their supply comes from insects, which make up about 25 percent of their diet. They hover mid-air to catch small flying insects, but often snap up insects on leaves or from spider webs as well.

Harsh weather conditions like hurricanes or early frosts are some of their greatest challenges every year. Part of their survival success is due to a special mechanism called Torpor. This low-energy state starts with them fluffing their feathers and adjusting their internal thermostats, decreasing their body temperature by half and reducing their heart rate from 500 beats per minute to a mere 50. They may even briefly stop breathing.  Ruby-throated hummingbirds go into Torpor when they sleep or are affected by cold or dangerous weather.

Before migration hummingbirds go on a feeding frenzy. They feed often and heavily for days- a state called hyperphagia by scientists. They double their weight, gaining fat to power their journey. The extra fat, called yellow fat, deposits around the hummers body cavity and organs. The stored fat provides more than twice the energy per gram than burning carbohydrates or protein. Yellow fat metabolism produces twice as much water than burning protein or carbs insuring protection from dehydration during long flights. Ornothologists have calculated that hyperphagia generates enough fuel for a humming bird to fly nearly 600 miles at 35 mph.

Hummingbirds rely on nectar as a major part of their diet. As human population grows, natural nectar sources dwindle and pesticides kill off needed insects the hummers struggle for food sources. You can create your own bright red hummingbird feeder*. These feeders are filled with sugar-water** they do require daily maintenance since the heat will affect the water. This sugar water recipe should never include honey, artificial sweeteners, flavorings or food coloring. They will cause damage to the hummingbird’s kidneys.

Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds live an average of 3-5 years but they can live up to 12 years. To ensure proper continual growth of the hummingbird population, you can invite them to your backyard with a variety of brightly colored red and scarlet flowers. Pink, rose, orange, and purple are alluring to them as well. You can plant flowers such as bee balm, cardinal flower, coral bell, four o’clock, foxglove, agastache (hummingbird mint) and yucca perennials. Hummers enjoy vines such as morning glory, scarlet runner bean and trumpet creeper. This collection of flowers and vines have a very high sugar content of more than 10% for the hummingbirds diet. The hummingbirds long and tapered bill is designed to get the nectar from the center of long, tubular flower. When the hummers are drinking the nectar from a flower or a vine, their bill is usually opened slightly, allowing their tongue to dart out and into the interior of the flower where the sweet nectar collects.

Even thought the Ruby-Throated hummingbird will migrate every year, they are solo fliers. They are very unsociable birds. They do not fly in a flock like ducks or geese. Researchers have concluded that they are better off as solo fliers since they are such small birds that it is hard for predators to see them when they fly alone. They stop frequently to feed on flowers or a feeder during their journey so the availability of flowers and feeders are few for a large group. Since they have very little body fat, flying as a flock, there is not enough air current to keep them together.

A Ruby-Throated Hummingbird migration can last anywhere from on to four weeks averaging twenty to twenty-five miles per day. During this time, they might stop for food, nectar and rest but most of the time they are flying. They will stay in one place for one to fourteen days before they reach their final destination. The males arrive and leave before the females in both seasonal homes to ensure their territory is suitable for mating. Like turtles, Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds will travel the same migration route their entire life span.

During their winter stay the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird is noted to migrate in abundance to the coffee farms in Mexico. The shaded areas produce such lavish flowers that are super sweet which they enjoy.

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird Feeder

You will need:

  • Clay
  • Glaze
  • Empty water bottle
  • Large garbage bag
  • Low tack Masking tape
  • Hummingbird feeder stopper and tip
  • Medium weight UV resistant rope
  • Slab roller or rolling pin
  • Thickness strips (for use with rolling pin)
  • Slabmat x2 (for use with slab roller)
  • Needle tool
  • Wet texture tool
  • Rib
  • Bowl or spray bottle of water or small plastic bag of slip


1 cup  Pure Cane White Granulated Sugar

4 cups hot boiling water

Boil the 4 cups of water on the stove top. Add the 1 cup of sugar. Mix the sugar and water until the sugar dissolves.

Carefully place the mixture into the refrigerator to cool, usually overnight. When mixture is cold, take the mixture out of the refrigerator and add to hummingbird feeder. wipe bottle dry after adding the water so not to attract ants.


Do not add red food coloring or dye to the hummingbird food. It has no nutritional value and can cause damage to their kidneys. If you have a good hummingbird feeder, there is no need to have red hummingbird food to attract hummingbirds.

Do not use the microwave to boil the water for hummingbird food.

Water boiled in a microwave has a tendency to start to rapidly boil over (sometimes described as an explosion) when the water surface is touched causing burns to the hands of the person making the hummingbird food.

Do not put hot hummingbird food into a  hummingbird feeder.

This can cause the tank on the hummingbird feeder to break and could possible cut the hand of the person filling the tank. Putting hot hummingbird food into a hummingbird feeder  can also burn the tongue of a poor unsuspecting hummingbird.

Do not use brown sugar, powered sugar, maple syrup, karo syrup, Splenda, Equal, Sweet’N’Low, or any other type of sugar or sugar substitute.

Only use Pure Cane White Granulated Sugar (the white grainy stuff) to make hummingbird food. The chemical makeup of other types of sugars is not the same as Pure Cane White Granulated Sugar  and can cause illness and death to a hummingbird. It does not matter what brand of Pure Cane White Granulated Sugar   you use, as long as it is the white grainy processed sugar.

Do not use Kool-Aid to make hummingbird food.

The chemicals in Kool-Aid are not good for hummingbirds and can cause illness and death to a hummingbird.

Bead Making, Made Easy – A Step-by-Step Lesson Plan

Friday, November 16th, 2012

NOTE: A complete PDF Bead Making Lesson Plan done to Florida teaching standards is available for download by clicking here!

Lesson Purpose

Bead making is one of our very first arts, as humans. Beads are still made from many natural materials, both organic such as animals, stones and shells, or botanical and inorganic like minerals. Primitive man wore necklaces made from animal bones, claws and teeth of slain animals. They learned to create polished wooden beads, colorful seeds and pieces of palm, bamboo and tropical hardwoods producing attractive necklaces and bracelets. As clay and glass became more readily available the use of beads socially and economically flourished. Beads have been used throughout the world for many different reasons such a religious, i.e. rosary beads; trade or currency, i.e. Aggrey beads from Ghana; spiritual, i.e. worry beads; and for playing children’s games such as the Owari beads. The history of beading is a story of social and economic impact on people of every continent and culture, and revival of old ideas into new.

Some Lesson Plan Highlights…

  • A thorough introduction of the history of bead making is included in the Lesson Plan
  • Each student will be able to identify different types of uses for beads. They will then create beads in different colors and styles to be worn or to be traded with fellow students.
  • Age group recommendation: Approximately 5th Grade through High School (and beyond)!
  • Step-by-step written instructions as well as images are provided
  • All tools and materials required to complete Lesson Plan are listed, as well as product numbers for easy ordering
  • Grading/Scoring scale included

(Downlaod PDF document for complete instructions)

What will my students be able to do when they finish this lesson or unit?

How to use clay and create a beautiful bead, thinking of the processes and skills involved. The student will learn by exploring with clay, what the clay body can/not do. By creating beads, the student will learn how to create shapes and combining them with color by using their hands and various tools.

As the Instructor, what assessment tools will I use?

After completely this Lesson Plan, students will be able to identify different types of uses for beads and through presentation of their beads, each student will be assessed on if the beads are complete and were done neatly. The student will also be assessed on the creativity of the beads in relation to their use.

If you have any questions regarding the Lesson Plan, please feel free to email us at: or leave a question in the “Leave a Reply” section below this posting.  Have fun and good luck!

Blooming Bowls or Bug Bowls

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

These bowls are simple to make. We put almost every step in this lesson so you can make one even if you have never worked with clay.

So bring your “I can do it!” attitude and let’s make some bowls!

First things first… Clay dos and don’ts;


  • Use water sparingly
  • Wipe your hands off on a cloth frequently.
  • Be aware of where you are telling the clay to go by noticing the angle between your fingertips and middle knuckles.
  • If the table is too high, put your work in your lap (on top of your cloth) or work standing up.
  • Allow the dirty water sit so the clay settles, pour the clear water off and put the clay sludge in at trash bag or lined trash container.


  • Dump clay filled water down the drain (it will clog pipes).
  • Put lots of water on your work.
  • Do not throw clay (unless you have a potter’s wheel).
  • Don’t handle your work carelessly, it will break.



Start by cutting a slab of clay off of the large “pug”. Use a wire tool, a sturdy string or fishing line




Cut the slab into 4 smaller parts (six if you are working with very young children). Make two (or three) smaller.



Make the larger pieces into balls. Use the palm of your hand. Clay is one place you are allowed to smack loudly!



Start forming your bowl by holding it in one hand as shown. Then use the thumb of your other hand to form the middle hole. Leave it a bit thick at the bottom.


Here you see the right hand doing the pinching and the left is just holding the piece. Starting at the bottom squeeze a little between thumb and fingers, turn the piece two finger widths and squeeze again. When you have moved all the way around the piece move up a thumbs length and do the process again. Note that the clay is going the way the finger is angled.

You can repeat the process until the bowl is thick enough to hold it’s own weight and thin enough to “feel right” when you pick it up. This may take some practice. If your piece collapses, carefully crush it without trapping any air inside and make the clay into a ball, wrapping it to use for “decorative sprigs” later.


You now smooth the bowl if you want to. Then use a knife (fettling or butter knife) “to form the “foot”. The “foot” of a bowl helps the bowl sit firmly on the table without rolling.


The wider the foot, the more stable the bowl.  An excessively large foot makes a bowl heavy and can adversely affect the look of the bowl. Here you can clearly see a flat spot is cut at the bottom of the bowl. Trace a square on the flat area, then carefully cut away,starting at the flat spot with the slice narrowing at the curve of your bowl.

Adding clay pieces to a clay form with slip is called “sprigging”. You will now make decorative elements which will attach to your bowl. Remember, if the sprigging is too heavy the bowl will tip to one side instead of being upright on the foot. One way to make things light is to make them hollow. If you close a form completely, poke a hole in it when you are finish, or the trapped air might break it.


Make your sprigging design, then lay it out without sticking it on. Once you have the “bugs” worked out, it will be time to attach everything.


Make little slices where you wish to attach a piece. This is called scoring. Then place a drop of water on the scored area, do the same with the sprig then press them firmly together. The scoring creates a great deal of surface area, the water creates a way for the clay particles to move easily. The pressure helps them line up and be strong with their new neighbors. The smaller the sprig, the less pressure is required.


Here is a little trick to make your limbs interesting. Apply a little pressure with dull side of the knife, then draw it along, allowing the rope of clay to roll. Do it both ways if you like for a pattern of diamonds or squares..



Then you set the piece aside to dry. Let it dry for two weeks. If the piece is wet when it is painted the paint will blister. If the piece feels cool to your cheek it needs more drying time.

Paint the whole piece with clear, white, black or red gesso. Let it dry for a day.



Paint your piece carefully, starting on the inside. Take care not to break your sprigs as you work around the piece. Wadded paper towels or foam can be used to lay the piece upside down without damage.

The bowl at the front has had a coat of clear gloss acrylic medium. The bowl at the back has been painted with acrylic craft paint only.

**Click here to view or download a PDF version of this Lesson Plan>>

Revitalizing Neglected Landscapes with Organic Seed Blossoms

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

This lesson written by: Rosanne Sloane

Lesson Purpose:

We are going to create seed blossoms which we will be able to toss onto abandoned land. Each student will learn about our native wild flowers, choosing a flower they like and writing a brief description on it.

BACKGROUND: When Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon arrived in Florida on Palm Sunday in 1513, he named Florida, La Florida, “land of flowers,” in honor of the Spain’s Easter celebration. There was at that time an abundant wildflowers as far as the eye could see.

As communities grew, native Floridians people and new settlers utilized native wildflowers for a variety of things, from medicine and food to aesthetics. They recognized wildflowers’ places in nature’s hierarchy and their importance in the plant and animal kingdoms.

As years passed with the destruction of natural places in Florida in order to develop modern dwellings such as homes, schools, and businesses, with it’s the once beautiful landscape lost many of its wild flowers. Recognizing the loss of such beauty, many Floridians tried to save the wildflowers within in their own communities.

Florida’s flowers include more than 4,100 kinds of spontaneous occurring plants. There are 2,800 Florida native plants. Florida’s 2,800 native plant list includes trees, shrubs, vines, ferns, grasses and flowering herbaceous species. In the spirit of Lady Bird Johnson’s Highway Beautification Act created in 1965, we are going to help revitalize neglected landscapes with the use of clay and wild flower seeds.

DOWNLOAD: Organic Seed Blossom Lesson Plan>>

Organic Seed Blossom Recipe

DOWNLOAD: Organic Seed Blossom Recipe>>

Makes six ping pong size seed blossom

All materials in this recipe and instructional sheet are cheap or free, easy to find, and are natural and organic.

(Note: Buy seed mixtures of native flowers and plants to your area. Not only will they grow well, they will not crowd out other plants, disrupt bird and insect populations, or do other environmental damage.)

  • 1 tablespoon of chili powder as a pest deterrent (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon of water

(Add water as needed to make meatloaf like consistency. Water is for forming the clay, do not water seed blossom when finished.)

What you will need for mixing and storing Seed Blossoms:

  • Yogurt container with lid
  • Empty Egg carton


Mix 5 parts clay with 1 part compost and 1 part flower seeds into the container. Put 1 tablespoon of water into the mixture. Add water a necessary but make sure not to make your mixture into a goopy sloppy mess!

Knead with hands into a ball, flatten it out like a tube and cut 1” spacing or to desired size. We would recommend wearing latex gloves when rolling the balls, tubes, and making the actual blossom.

Take each cut and make into a small ball and place into egg carton to dry.

Place egg carton by a window to help dry. Please allow 3 days to days thoroughly before tossing.

Choosing a Site

Choosing a suitable site is as crucial as choosing suitable seeds. Some might view seed blossom tossing as “vandalism.”

Best Site Choice

We want to make sure the land has been orphaned and would be suitable for wild flowers. We want to attract other wild life to help pollinate the wild flowers to be.

Here is a good check list to consider when searching for a site.

  1. Make sure the site is not a conservation area?
  2. Make sure the area is not privately owned.
  3. Make sure the land is not set aside for agricultural purposes.
  4. Make sure the site is abandoned and can be benefit from the seeds.
  5. Make sure the site is not a future construction site.

There are some Don’ts that need to be followed:

  1. Don’t throw seed blossoms at people, animals, buildings, vehicles or windows. Please make sure that nothing or no body can be damaged or harmed by your flying seed blossoms.
  2. Don’t throw them on land with inadequate growing conditions. If there is sun light and no obvious soil for the plants to anchor themselves causing them to perish.

Don’t use the seed blossoms as a form of aggression or vandalism.

Lesson Resources

Wildflower Power Air Dry Clay Tiles

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

Lesson Plan by Rosanne Sloane (download Rosanne’s Wildflower lesson plan>>)

How To Make A Wild Flower Power Air Dry Clay Tile

Download a PDF of this blog post showing how to create Air Dry Wildflower Tiles>>

Take a 25lb brick of Laguna Mexo-White Self Hardening Clay and cut a 1″ x 12″ x 12″ thick slab of clay.

1. Place the clay on a slab roller canvas or on newspaper to be roller out to a 25” x 30” slab.

2. Roll the clay through the slab roller or under the rolling pin.

 3. Slab the air dry clay until you get to ¼” thick.

4. Once you have a slab ¼” thick you can place a slab mat on top to erase the canvas marks or you can leave them.

5. Please your slab of clay on a clean piece of paper or clean work area.

6. Take a square cookie cutter about 2” x 2”. (If you want larger tiles you can use standard sizes such as 4” x 4” or 6” x 6” or a 8” x 8”.)

7. Cut as many tiles as you can from you 1st slab of 25” x 30” clay.

8. Please your stamp or stencil on top the tiles you have cut out to create the imprint you are creating. Make sure to spray the tile with vegetable oil or talc powder for quick release from the clay.

9. Press down on the stamp evenly or etch out the stencil at this time.

10. Pull back the tile or stencil carefully.

11. Examine the impression.

12. Once you examine the impression, continue stamping.

13. After the tiles have been cut and stamped, designate someone to smooth the edges.

14. You can smooth out any wrinkles or creases on the sides or top at this point.

15. Place tiles on a board to dry for the next three days.

16. Once dried, you can apply acrylic paints, spray paints, glitter, cork, rubber, or any other multi-media material to jazz up the tile.


The BirdProject Lesson Plan – By: Tippy Tippens

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

The BirdProject is a very important cause to the Laguna Clay Company.  The BP Oil Spill in the Gulf was devastating and we wanted to find a way to give back to the local community.  The white ceramic birds inside the soaps are glazed with Laguna Clay Co.  blue crackle glaze. We were proud and honored to donate this glaze to Tippy Tippen’s BirdProject.  Please enjoy reading and learning about the BirdProject.  As always, we would love to hear your thoughts and comments, as well as hear about your personal experiences.

The BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Disaster has destroyed and continues to destroy local culture, our environment, and our wildlife. Both the long-term after effects of this disaster and its ultimate reach are yet unknown. BirdProject’s mission is to raise and maintain public awareness of the Oil Spill and to help provide funding for Environmental Cleanup Initiatives and aid for affected wildlife.

BirdProject provides work to the area by teaming exclusively with local artists, suppliers, and manufacturers and building positive partnerships between a range of New Orleans communities. Working with community and education based Operation Reach helps highlight this important issue in the minds of teenagers as well as teaching new skills in both green technologies and entrepreneurial creativity.

BirdProject is manufacturing an exclusive edition of black, bird-shaped glycerin soaps. Each soap contains a white, ceramic bird, made from Louisiana Clay and Laguna Clay Co. glazes, which remains as a keepsake once the outer soap has been washed away. The use of Glycerin – a biodiesel by-product – helps bolster awareness of green energy initiatives while emphasizing smart usage of manufacturing waste.

Through the daily act of washing, you will eventually free the clean, white, ceramic birds inside – potent symbols of restoration and recovery. The soap is shaped to be cradled in your hand and is a powerful representation of all creatures affected by the spill.

The soaps are manufactured from natural, locally sourced ingredients: biodiesel glycerin from Operation Reach, fair trade olive oil, aloe, activated black charcoal, and a light cypress scent – reminiscent of Louisianan bayous.

BirdProject’s production model is highly scalable, enabling cost-effective runs for both local and national retail outlets. 30% of the retail price will be donated directly to the Gulf Restoration network and the IBRRC. Profits will provide funding for follow up products including raising funding/awareness for wetland restoration.

BirdProject is the launch product from, MATTER L3C, a new design company based in New Orleans. About MATTER: Eco-intelligence, creativity, and innovative philanthropy unite at MATTER L3C: an industrial design & consulting studio based in New Orleans, uniquely focused on raising awareness and funding initiatives that advance social change. A portion of all proceeds flow to causes that impact the health, happiness, and sustainability of our communities both locally and for our neighbors around the world. MATTER L3C helps to make the world a better place by creating products and collaborations that matter.

Since my relocation to New Orleans from Brooklyn, NY to help in oil spill cleanup I have had the wonderful opportunity to volunteer for Audubon. This day was amazing in the ability to see so many healthy pelicans in an oil-free natural, habitat and a massive thank you to Lexie Montgomery, the incredible Audubon Volunteer Coordinator and new friend.

** Click here to SHOP BirdProject products – BirdProject donates 50% of profits to the Gulf Restoration network and International Bird Rescue. Profits will provide funding for follow up products including raising funding/awareness for wetland restoration and other social intiatives.

** Click here to watch Tippy Tippens in a short video of the making of the BirdProject **

** Below are photos of the making of these lovely birds… Click on the image to see the process in greater detail **

In The News:

**BirdProject’s Bird-Shaped Soaps Remind Us Gulf Spill Cleanup Isn’t Over**

By: Maria Matis, with 07/18/11

“The symbolism of the soap extends beyond its shape. Intentionally black to represent oil, each bird washes away to reveal a white ceramic version inside. “The white ceramic bird represents hope, and is to remain as a symbol of progress and recovery,” Tippens tells Ecouterre.  Intentionally black to represent oil, each one washes away to reveal a white ceramic version inside.”

**Symbolic soaps raise funds for oil-spill cleanup operation**

By:, 07/11/11

“Symbolically, the soaps represent the washing of a bird whilst simultaneously linking that process to human activity as they wash themselves. A further function of the design is that it has helped raise awareness for a rescue operation at a time when many feel swamped by calls to give to worthy causes. Those trying to achieve similar goals, time to start thinking creatively!”

Fired-On Images Lesson Plan

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

This Lesson Plan uses Fired-On Images along with Laguna Clay and Creatable Colors to create unique and beautiful tiles to be enjoyed by all!

Click Here to download the complete printable step-by-step intstructions for this Lesson Plan – (PDF)

Click Here to download the actual Fruit image used for this Lesson Plan (PDF)

Note: We have created links to help you find the exact products used in this Lesson Plan.  Simply click on the highlighted material you are interested in and you will be directed to our site if you would like to learn more about the materials or purchase them.


Option 1: Color is added as Under-glaze (Majolica style)

A. Size image and print out on plain paper to trace or directly onto Clay Carbon
B. Paint bisque tile LM362 with 2 coats white EM2101 Laguna Creatable Color Glaze, let dry
C. Trace image on to dried white glaze surface








D. Paint in the lines with 1-2 coats Creatable Colors assorted colors (this fruit crate label sample used Red, Medium Blue, Green, Yellow and Orange).







Decorating Hints:

  • Print the image onto a sheet of Laser compatible transparency film. That way you can hold the image over the tile as you paint to make sure the color is exactly where you want it.
  • Use masking tape or liquid masking fluid for crisp lines and edges.

E. Fire to Cone 06







F. Print image onto Fired-On Images MS Transfer Paper using ANY Canon or HP Black-only Laser printer or copier.

Printing Hints:

  • Print on the glossy side of the paper, one sheet at a time, placing in the manual feed slot of the printer.
  • HP or Canon Black-only Multifunction Laser Printer/Photocopiers can be used as standalone.
  • Fired-On transfer printers without the need of a computer hook up. You just put the image onto the copier platen and print directly onto the transfer paper.









G. Cut out image close to edges
H. Soak in warm water






I. Lift image with backing paper intact and place on tile using one hand hold film down and carefully pull out backing paper from underneath with the other hand
J. Line up with image push water out with paper towel or soft brayer.







K. Fire to cone 06

Option 2: Color is added as Over-glaze

1. Paint bisque tile LM362 with 2-3 coats white EM 2101 Laguna Creatable Color Glaze
2. Fire to cone 06
3. Print sized image onto decal paper using any HP or Canon Black-only printer
4. Cut out close to image edges
5. Soak in warm water
6. Pick up with backing paper intact and lay onto tile …using one hand hold down film and pull out backing paper with the other hand
7. Push water from center outward with paper towel or soft brayer
8. Fire to Cone 06
9. Paint in the lines with assorted Creatable Colors Glaze

Over-glaze Hints:

  • Over-glazing onto a smooth pre-glazed surface can be tricky if the glaze or brush is too wet.
  • Use a dry brush with glaze that is the consistency of paste (put some liquid glaze on a scrap glazed tile and let dry until the right consistency)








10. Fire again to cone 06

Stoneware Instructions (Cone 5 Glaze)


Overglaze Method:

A. Paint your cone 5 ware with 2 -3 coats Versa 5 White Glaze MS301
B. Fire to Cone 5
C. Apply Transfer as instructed
D. Fire to Cone 06
E. Paint in the lines with assorted Creatable Colors Glazes
F. Fire to cone 06.

Stoneware Hints:

  • It is possible to do the under-glaze image decorating method with Versa 5 Glazes. Just use the white as your Majolica base coat and Versa 5 colored glazes as your coloring medium.
  • Keep in mind that Stoneware cone 5 glazes shrink and so the image will need to be resized before decal application.

More Info and Where to Buy Hints:




The Ceramic Twizzler® Tile Mural LESSON PLAN

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

This Lesson Plan is a collaborative effort made from Laguna B-Mix Clay with Grog and AMACO Velvet Underglazes and Clear Glaze.

Please enjoy this very imaginative Ceramic Twizzler® Tile Mural Lesson Plan by clicking on the links below. Stephanie Osser developed this Twizzler® Lesson Plan after attending a ceramics workshop for faculty and staff at Babson College.  She is the studio manager/ceramic artist-in-residence for a small ceramics program based at Babson College, a business school, in Wellesley, MA.  She comes to ceramics from her career as a book illustrator.  Her forte is bas-relief tile and sculpture and is currently involved in a commissioned bas-relief group project for the Cambridge Hospital Alliance in Cambridge, MA. Stephanie has also been chosen to be a resident artist in Denmark this summer for six weeks at an international ceramic research center called Guldagergaard.  There she will work on her own narrative work in bas-relief tiles and sculpute and new technology in silk screen and decaling her drawings on clay. To learn more about Stephanie and her current and past projects, visit her personal website at:

Click here to view the Step-by-Step Lesson Plan instructions on Laguna Clay’s website

Click here to download a Printable (PDF) version of the Step-by-Step Lesson Plan instructions


Paper Clay Clan Totem Pole Lesson Plan

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

Objective: Use Laguna Paper Clay to create a collaborative classroom “Clan” Totem Pole, without firing in a kiln.

Presented By: David D. Gilbaugh, and Jennie Koons

Grade Levels: 3 & 4 (Adaptable K-12)

Background Information: The traditional use of Totem Poles is an ancient one held by many cultures around the world. Totems serve as a visual statement and record to commemorate and share the cultural history of a people. Totems come in four types including Crests, History, Legends, and Memorials. (Single lesson plan).

NOTE: Magic Water was mentioned in the CAEA Paper Clay Workshop.

Magic Water, product # IP238-G

Everyone needs some “magic” in their day.  Laguna Clay makes Magic Water for the ease of those who do not have a full selection of raw materials in their studio.  Use Magic Water to enhance clays ability to bond leather hard to dry clay pieces together and to create Magic mud to mend cracks in bone dry or bisque ware (a small addition of paper to regular clays will also aid in this process).

CLICK HERE to Download the Totem Pole Lesson Plan

2-Florida Endangered Species Lesson Plan – Science Quest Project

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

Lesson Purpose: With the rapid rate of development in Florida, protecting endangered species and their habitat is becoming more critical. Some of the animals in the State of Florida have become extinct or are near extinction. This lesson plan will help promote and ensure the just and kind treatment of animals. Through artistic expression such as clay, students will be able to share and display their knowledge about Florida’s Endangered Species so that they can help improve the quality of the lives of these animals.

Note: This lesson plan can be applied to any state!  Here is a link to find out more information about endangered species in your local state.

This lesson was written by: Rosanne Sloan, Sales Associate for Axner Pottery and Ceramic Supply Co.

Lesson Grade: 5

Lesson Plan Worksheets

<Endangered Species Lesson>

<Endangered Species Science Quest>

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