7380 Girard Avenue, La Jolla

Gillispie School / Learn by Doing  / Constructivist Approach to Art Programing

Constructivist Approach to Art Programing

Gillispie is a constructivist school. Nothing exemplifies this educational philosophy more than our Gillispie ceramics program.

Students in grades kindergarten through sixth enjoy working with clay. The elementary ceramics curriculum builds on the Early Childhood clay experiences. Both divisions are fortunate to have kilns.

In the process of hand building with clay, children learn to realize their three-dimensional artistic visions experimenting with slab, pinch pot, and coil construction methods.

Examples of pinch pot modeling are the Grade 2 “monster” mouths, Grade 3 owls, and the Grade 1 Native American pots and bird’s nests.

Slab construction projects include Kindergarten suns and Grade 4 sushi trays. Coil pots are made in Grade 5. Grade 6 combines these methods in a mask making exploration.

We often tie ceramic lessons with grade-level social studies and literature units. In the past we have created penguins in Grade 1 to coincide with Antartica studies, fox habitats with Grade 3’s reading of “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” and collaborative sculptures of characters from “Island of the Blue Dolphin” as well as Gold Rush towns in the Grade 4.

Understanding the process of making a finished ceramic piece of art is a goal of our elementary art curriculum. Working with the wet clay, joining pieces with “tic, tac, toe” and slip, to the final glazed creation is an amazing journey.


About Gillispie School: Gillispie is an independent toddler through Grade 6 school in La Jolla, CA. We believe that learning is a journey in which children are active participants. Our students partner with teachers to further their academic, creative, and social growth, and we balance a child-centered approach that does not rush childhood with well-researched academic programs that demand higher-level thinking. Click here to learn more about our school.

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