SCORE AND SLIP – Joining Pieces of Clay

Students use air dry clay to make a small texture tile as they learn how to join pieces of clay using the score and slip technique.

Required Time

80 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 1 to Grade 10


Art Techniques
Language Arts



Crayola Air Dry Clay Crayola Paint Brushes Slip Water Containers Rolling Pins or Piece of Dowel Plastic Placemats - 1 per student Pencils Garlic Press Paper Clips Masking Tape Wooden Candy Apple Sticks

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SCORE AND SLIP – Joining Pieces of Clay - Step One

Step One


  1. Make a gouging tool by taping a large paperclip to the end of a pencil.
  2. Make a pin tool by taping an open paperclip to the end of a pencil.
  3. Gather other tools such as a:
    - rolling pin;
    - dowel;
    - garlic press;
    - toothbrush;
    - bamboo skewer;
    - wooden candy apple stick. 
SCORE AND SLIP – Joining Pieces of Clay - Step Two

Step Two


  1. You use slip to help hold the clay together.
  2. To make slip begin by placing several lumps of clay into a container and adding a small amount of water.
  3. Mix the clay and water together.
  4. If it is too watery add more clay and continue to squeeze the clay through your fingers until it disolves.
  5. Mix the clay and water together until it is like thick cream. 
SCORE AND SLIP – Joining Pieces of Clay - Step Three

Step Three


  1. Make a small ball of clay and flatten it with your fingers and the palm of your hand.
  2. Use a rolling pin or piece of dowel to roll it into a flat shape about 1.5 cm thick - this is called a slab
SCORE AND SLIP – Joining Pieces of Clay - Step Four

Step Four


  1. Use the pin tool to scratch cross hatched lines into the clay where you want to join another piece of clay.
  2. This is called scoring the clay.  
SCORE AND SLIP – Joining Pieces of Clay - Step Five

Step Five


  1. Paint slip on top of the score lines.
  2. This is called score and slip technique.
SCORE AND SLIP – Joining Pieces of Clay - Step Six

Step Six

  1. Place a small ball of clay into the garlic press and squeeze it out.
  2. Place it on top of the scored and slipped spot.
  3. Gently blend the edges into the slab to make a smooth join.
SCORE AND SLIP – Joining Pieces of Clay - Step Seven

Step Seven


  1. Roll a long thin coil of clay.
  2. As you roll the clay spread your fingers and apply gentle, even pressure to slowly stretch the clay.
  3. Score and slip the spot where you will join the coil to the slab.
  4. Place the coil on the prepared spot.
  5. Use the back of your fingernail to join the edges to the slab.
  6. Smooth the clay with your finger.
  7. Add a small amount of slip if needed.
SCORE AND SLIP – Joining Pieces of Clay - Step Eight

Step Eight


  1. Use the gouging tool to scrape away some of the clay from the slab.
  2. Continue adding and removing clay to create at least 3 levels.
  3. Experiment with ways to make different textures.
  4. Always remember to score and slip before adding any pieces of clay. 

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • join pieces of air dry clay using the score and slip technique;
  • make two simple tools;
  • create a variety of textures and levels of clay on a slab;
  • build on their own and others’ discoveries to generate new ideas;
  • explain their process; 
  • express opinions about the artworks.


Have students:


  1. Place students into groups so they can share slip and tools.
  2. Gather plastic placemats one for each student.
  3. Make enough slip for each group of students to share - or have students make thier own small batch.



  1. Introduce air dry clay.
    - air dry clay is a special formula made so it can dry in the air in about a week
    - usually clay has to be baked in a large oven called a kiln
  2. Explain the purpose of today's class:
    - to learn how to join clay so that it will stay together after it dries because clay shrinks when it dries so if the join isn't made correctly all the pieces will fall off;
    - to experiment with the clay to see how many textures and effects they can create;
    - to test to see if everything stays stuck once the clay dries;
    - it's a time to play with ideas and see what happens.
  3. Encourage students to try to get as many different effects as they can, and to share ideas and learn from each other.
  4. Introduce the challenge.


The Challenge

  1. Make two simple tools, a gouging tool and a pin tool.
  2. Roll a small slab of clay of even thickness.
  3. Make a texture design that has at least 3 levels and many different textures.
  4. Join pieces of clay using the score and slip technique.


The Process

  1. Make sure everyone understands the challenge.
  2. Establish success criteria with your students, for example,
    I know I am successful when I have:
    - made a gouger and a pin tool
    - rolled a small slab of clay of even thickness
    - made a texture design with 3 levels
    - made many different textures
    - used score and slip joining technique correctly
  3. Demonstrate how to make the two tools. 
  4. Demonstrate how to use the garlic press and ask for ideas about how to use some of the other tools.
  5. Demonstrate how to roll a small slab of clay of even thickness.
  6. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  7. Observe students as they work. 
  8. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.


  1. Place students into small groups. 
  2. Ask them to: 
    - Compare their work and describe to each other what they did to get certain effects.
    - Consider how doing these experiments might help them if they were creating a clay project such as a sculpture or clay pot.
    - Talk about was difficult and what was easy for them.
  3. Share ideas with the whole class. 
  4. Ask them to tell how they felt about doing this activity.


  1. Observe students as they work – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting.
  2. Observe students as they discuss their artworks – speaks with a clear voice, looks at audience while speaking, points to areas in the artwork, provides accurate information, answers questions from the audience effectively.
  3. Observe students as they listen – looks at presenter, asks effective questions, supports ideas with evidence found in the artwork.
  4. Use a checklist to track progress. (Download - TECHNIQUES_tracking.pdf)
  5. Have students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Download - TECHNIQUES_self-assessment.pdf or TECHNIQUES_PRIMARY.pdf)