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3D Digital Artifact Collection

COMPARATIVE EXERCISE – POTTERY A to Z

ACOMA AND ZUNI POTTERY

This example of an artifact-based lesson demonstrates the comprehensive nature of the context support documents that are part of each artifact in the Artifacts Gallery. K-12 teachers, regardless of what level they might teach, can copy and modify the context support to create an effective and engaging lesson in science, math, Language Arts, Social Studies, and art. One need not know anything before you begin. We provide everything that you need in context support and can answer questions that might arise via our on-line support system. Try this lesson and see what your students have to say! 

WHAT YOU WILL NEED:
Acoma pottery artifact.1. Essay: “Background Essay – Pottery”
2. Quick Reference Guide: Southwestern Pottery
3. Glossary of Pottery Terms
4. Acoma Pottery Description
5. Zuni Pottery Description
6. Spin Set Image: Acoma Pottery
7. Spin Set Image: Zuni Pottery

EXERCISE:
1. Prior to class, read the background essay on pottery. You may want to make copies of the Quick Reference Guide and the Glossary of Terms for students.
2. Project the Spin Set Image: Acoma Pot

  • In groups, have students analyze the artifact and write down a description of the item. The description must be full and complete. It must include a description of the designs. No speculation or interpretation concerning use or design is to be accepted at this point.
  • When students have completed their analysis, have them report to the entire group. As they report, write down the characteristics/description of the pot in a list on the board.

                        Characteristics:

  • Traditional olla shape, black on white
  • Six “Heartline Deer” images on the center
  • Fine line, geometric designs dominate the olla.
  • Fine lines usually symbolize rain

3. Project the Spin Set Image: Zuni Pot

  • In groups, have students analyze the artifact and write down a description of the item. The description must be Zuni pot artifact.full and complete. It must include a description of the designs. No speculation or interpretation concerning use or design is to be accepted at this point.
  • When students have completed their analysis, have them report to the entire group. As they report, write down the characteristics/description of the pot in a list on the board.

                        Characteristics:

  • Polychrome, dark-on-cream.
  • Two “Heartline Deer” and center florets
  • Six birds encircle the base
  • The Zuni Rain bird, clouds and rain decorate the upper portion

4. ASK: COMPARE AND CONTRAST THESE TWO POTS FROM PUEBLOS NEAREST EACH OTHER.
            a. WHAT ARE THE SIMILARITIES?
            b. WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES?

5. TELL THE STUDENTS: RAIN IS IMPORTANT AND BOTH HAVE RAIN SYMBOLS. CAN YOU DETERMINE WHICH ARE THE RAIN SYMBOLS?

  • Allow them to determine which of the symbols might be rain symbols. Assist them with clues.

6. ASK: WHY DO YOU THINK THESE ARTISTS INCORPORATED RAIN SYMBOLS INTO THEIR POTTERY?
            a. Important here to reinforce the idea that making pottery is a spiritual effort.

NOTE:
YOU MAY WISH TO DISTRIBUTE THE QUICK GUIDE TO POTTERY IDENTIFICATION AND THE GLOSSARY.

IF STUDENTS ARE YOUNG, THEN WRITE THE IMPORTANT WORDS – SLIP, KILN, FIRE, COIL, SYMBOL – ON THE BOARD AND HELP THEM DEFINE THE WORDS.

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EXPERT OPINION

  • “Every object has a story to tell if you know how to read it.”
    – Henry Ford
  • “Dealing with objects is a great way to teach the different steps involved in analyzing different kinds of materials. With just a little background, you can get students to engage with entirely new materials in extremely fruitful ways.”
    – Anita Nikkanen
    Harvard University
  • “Using objects helps students develop important intellectual skills.”
    – John Hennigar Shuh
    Curator, Nova Scotia Museum
  • "Whenever I used objects in my EFL classroom, I was surprised by how many questions I would get. I was especially excited when students who usually sat quietly were tempted to ask a question based on my object.”
    – Jenny Wei
    Specialist, National Museum of American History
  • When we examine the parts, we get a new perspective on the whole. There is nothing like holding a dinosaur bone, or the smell of cedar baskets…”
    – Burke Museum
    University of Washington, Seattle WA
  • “Every object has a story, right? Actually that’s a bit limiting. Every object has multiple stories.”
    – Rob Walker
    designer of Significant Objects and How They Got That Way

Teacher Questions