Native American Pottery Lesson Plan

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

This lesson plan may be used to help students learn about Native American pottery. Students will be able to answer questions about the history of Native American pottery making and use content-specific language when describing the process.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson on Native American pottery, students will be able to:

  • Ask and answer questions about Native American pottery.
  • Use domain-specific language to describe the process for making pottery.
  • Students will recreate some of the decorations on the pots and discuss the symbolism.


90 minutes

Common Core Curriculum Standards


Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.


Identify key steps in a text's description of a process related to history/social studies (e.g., how a bill becomes law, how interest rates are raised or lowered).


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.


  • agriculture
  • ancestral land
  • artifacts
  • ceramics
  • civilizations
  • culture
  • fired
  • hunter-gatherer
  • indigenous
  • kiln
  • nomadic
  • pottery
  • pueblo
  • sedentary
  • settlement
  • slip
  • temper
  • wedged


  • Copies of quiz
  • Copies of the lessons
  • Paper
  • Pens
  • Access to reference materials
  • Chart paper
  • Markers
  • Miniature terra cotta pots
  • Acrylic paints
  • Paint brushes

Reading & Discussion Questions

  • Preview vocabulary with students before reading the lesson.
  • Read Native American Pottery: History, Facts & Symbols as a class, and discuss the following questions:
    • When did Native American pottery first appear?
    • What are some of the locations of the earliest Native American artifacts?
    • Where did the pottery making in the southwestern United States originate from?
    • Why is pottery different in various parts of the southwest?
    • Describe the lifestyle of the tribes who made pottery.
    • How was pottery first created?
    • Describe the coil technique for pottery-making.
    • Describe the slab technique for pottery making.
    • What types of materials were used to make pottery?
    • What are some techniques for decorating pottery?
    • How do firing techniques vary by tribe?
    • How do potters determine the decoration for each pot?
    • Describe the decorations of various pueblos.
    • How is Navajo pottery different from Pueblo pottery?
  • Ask if there are any questions, then give the students the lesson's printable worksheet to check for understanding.
  • Check the answers as a class.

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