Sensational Ceramics – Education Pack

The aim of the small touring displays of ceramics with handling collection is to give children and the general public an opportunity to see work from the Aberystwyth Collection. The themes have been chosen to support learning and interest in ceramics but can also be used to develop other activities around art work, creative writing, and historical and social issues. Some suggested activities and topics are listed below.

Sensational Ceramics is intended to raise awareness of the different senses and how they are all part of the way we experience the world. People who have an impairment in one of their senses may develop others more strongly to compensate. For example, the visually impaired will often develop a much greater awareness of sound and touch.

The senses

What are the five senses?
What is meant by sixth sense?
What parts of the body are more sensitive to touch – why the tips of the fingers, or the lips?

Using the senses

How much can you tell by looking at an object the way it would feel? Look at objects in the exhibition and talk about how they would feel. Which ones would you want to touch?

The handling collection could be used to allow workshop participants to think about visual impairment. Before anyone sees the collection each person is given an object in turn. They try to describe their object for someone who cannot see it and the others try to draw it.

Or, people feel their object inside a black plastic bag and try to describe what they can feel.

Thinking about drinking vessels and the senses

What kind of things do you like to drink out of – a china cup, a glass, a stoneware mug, a plastic cup?
Why do we often drink out of polystyrene cups nowadays – in what places? What are their advantages or disadvantages?
What is good about ceramic drinking vessels – as opposed to glass, metal, wood, plastic or paper.

The sound of ceramics – musical instruments

Look at some of the different musical instruments that can be made out of clay
Percussion – drums, rattles, bells
Whistles, ocarinas, flutes like recorders (see pack for additional information)
Sound – listen to the different kinds of ring you can get from flicking a finger against the side of a vessel. Why do you get different sounds?
Higher firing temperature and smoother clay body tends to give a higher sound.

Texture – Clay texts and early writing / Braille

The earliest writing was on clay tablets and is known as cuneiform. It was developed in Mesopotamia and uses the way that soft clay hardens as it dries and retains impressions. If it is fired it becomes completely permanent. For an excellent website with education activities and interactive work see

Cunieform is a kind of three-dimensional writing and is a bit like Braille the system of writing used by blind people. See the example in the education pack. See also the Lippa Dalen cup with Braille around the rim. In 2005
the first exhibition of a project called Blind Art was held.

Word games and sheets for photocopying for use with younger children


Glossary (download)

Information Books and catalogues
Big Pots video – shows three potters who use the quality of clay in a very vigorous way.