Lesson: Pop Art Food Sculptures

It may be considered a crime to have this much fun at school- For both the teacher and the student!

5th Grade studetns planned, labled and prepped for making their CHOICE of food item out of clay.  They had to show me via a planning sheet which clay techniques they would use to create each part of their food item.  Each plan had to get the “Stamp of Approval” from me.  They had two, 45 minute class periods to work, and then we glazed and displayed them like a cafe in the media center.  I even made a “Menu” of clay skills, such as “Pinch Pot on a Stick” and “Slab Sandwiches.”

Enjoy the Delicious Views!



One of the best things about this lesson, is the display is getting people TALKING about art. They can’t walk by and not take a look. It’s irrisitable. I already have 4th graders planning what they are going to make next year. Talk about engaged learners!  If I can do this with 30 5th graders in a class, you can, too!  A quick shout out to a couple of my teammates, Allison and Michelle, (two amazing rockin art teachers) who had done this lesson in prior years.  Thank you for all of your tips and tricks to help this lesson go smoothly and for helping me get out of my comfort zone with clay! (Don’t’ forget, I suffer from Clayfobia!)

So, what did this lesson teach?

  • Problem Solving Skills (With each student doing something different, I could not solve all of their issues, they had to figure it out)
  • Planning Skills (Students had to plan everything out and strategically think about how they would construct something. I was nervous about it, but the plans really helped to focus kids)
  • Creation (Kids had to think about what method would best represent each food item, and how to make it look as realistic as possible)
  • Synthesis (Taking knowledge built from their K-4 art experience in clay and combining all of their prior knowledge to synthesize their knowledge.
  • Display and Aesthetics (Students were asked to think about what type of display would best represent their item.  Usually the teacher worries about the display- this time the kids had an active role)

Jessica Balsley

Jessica Balsley is the Founder and President at AOE. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.


  • Love your food and drink sculptures we also teach a similar project called ‘Supersized’. We look at Wayne Thiebaud, Ralph Goings, Claes Oldeburg and Kate Talbot to name a few!

    Check out our project brief below or search our tags for Food and Drink!


    Join us on Facebook or Twitter @departmentart

    • Mr. Sands- I checked out your website and you have so much great content to offer, Thank you for sharing your links and ideas. Great to connect with you.

      • Theresa Gillespie

        These are great! I’m going to have to borrow the idea. I’m doing clay cupcakes with my 4th grade…so I could expand the food theme to the 5th or 6th grade. Great job!

  • Those projects look fantastic! My eighth graders complete a similar project, except that they create fantasy foods… new products that they would like to see in the grocery store. My favorite so far has been Octi-PotPie, a pot pie in a tin pie plate, but with little tentacles hanging out of the crust.
    I have never thought of their projects as pop art, but I should use that as another lesson.
    The students in my classes create packaging for their food, and a magazine advertisements as well.
    I am not clay-phobic, but because of the brief time I see my students, they have a choice of papier mache or sculpy as their mediums when making the food sculptures.

  • these are really spectacular. Even the glazing is done with such care! Do you fire these on a very slow setting if they are thick? Or are they all hollow inside? I am just in awe!

    • Erica- They are all hollow. The kids have to include in their plan how they will make everything hollow. I’ve only had one blow-up. Ever. So, as long as I catch the thick parts really well and poke lots of holes, we are good. I fire them at a medium speed, cone 4. Thanks so much! I was pretty impressed, too for my first time doing it.

  • Dale Parker

    I am impressed that you get them to complete these in two 45 min. classes. They have done a wonderful job. I also am impressed that they plan and do their own problem solving.My 4th graders have been working on weaving in the round on paper cups. Very simple. They have had 4 40min. classes to finish. Some wove only an inch or two up the side of a 4 in. tall cup. There is so much, like your project, they could do, have the ability to do, but they talk non stop in class and I spend most of my time telling them to get back on task. They also have the attitude that doing the art is optional and that it is also ” too hard”. Makes me so frustrated with them. This is actually a new thing for them. I’ve been at this school for 11 years with much success. Any ideas on getting some reluctant, lazy kids fired up I’d love to hear.

    • Dale, You make some excellent points! The actual clay-making part took two days and then we took one more to glaze, and one before to plan, however 4 total class times start to finish isn’t shabby.
      As for some of your management issues, I dealt with some of those same things in the past… The most sucessful thing I have done is to revamp my classroom management is to learn from Michael over at Smart Classroom Management. I spent a week talking about my management plan and you can see the posts on that here. I hope this helps. I also know I spend so much time rushing these kids around and I hate that, but we have limited time and so much to accomplish. Hopefully being pushed for them is a good thing. Thanks for your great comment and honest feedback. Please keep in touch.

  • Megan

    I love this project. How cool! Is there anyway someone who doesn’t have an art teacher or an oven can make something like this?!?! What kind of clay would I have to use?

  • Nfkarts

    Where are the photos???

  • The photos seem to have gone missing. Gremlins! I will work at re-uploading them.