I almost didn't share my 3rd grader's clay projects this year, because I've been using basically the same lesson based on the book "The Pot That Juan Built" every year. When I went to delete the pictures, I just couldn't do it! I was struck by the lumpy pots, the pots that reminded me of my first experience with real clay.
In my hometown, there's only one art teacher and the students don't get a real art class until high school. But when I was in second grade, we had a special project! We were each given a ball of red clay with which we made bowls. I remember forming the clay and thinking how smooth I had made it. I was so proud! We even got to glaze the pots and the high school art teacher fired them in the kiln. I chose a pinky-mauve color. I kept the bowl until it fell in the sink and broke a couple years after I got married. I was a little sad that my lumpy pot, thought to be perfect by my 2nd grade self, was broken. I glued it back together and it broke again, as broken ceramics tend to do.
So the point here, friends, is to cherish those lumpy pots (and the smooth ones). Are my students' projects perfectly constructed? Nope. But they're elementary students who only get to use clay once a year. And the students are so genuinely excited about and proud of their projects that it makes me excited and proud, too.