What Is Pottery?

What Is Pottery?
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   5.39

     challenging words:    sieve, particle, archaeologists, geometric, porcelain, splendid, purpose, greek, phrase, material, millimeter, molds, potter, works, traveled, artists
     content words:    Middle East, Pueblo Indians

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What Is Pottery?
By Colleen Messina

1     Usually, artists are careful with their creations. However, one kind of artist throws his work around! Potters have a great time "throwing a pot" to express themselves.
2     Pottery is not just a form of creative expression. It had a practical purpose for thousands of years. Ancient people had to create pots to hold their food and store it. They didn't have Tupperware long ago. They didn't know how to make metal or glass, so they used clay. They would mold the clay and then bake it in a hot oven so it became dry and hard. Baking clay objects was called "firing," and the fired clay objects were called pottery.
3     Archaeologists found that people long ago used to build fires in shallow holes in their floors. They coated the insides of these holes with clay. When the fires burned, the clay hardened. This may have given them the idea to use clay to make pots. These people may have also used clay to coat the insides of baskets. Maybe someone accidentally dropped a basket into the fire. While the fire destroyed the basket, the clay baked and left a hardened bowl in the fire. Everyone was much happier eating from bowls at meals.
4     Clay was used by potters long ago because it is a natural material that is found all over the world. Clay is made up of very small particles. Each particle is only about a thousandth of a millimeter across. That is so small that you could put hundreds of thousands of them on top of a pin. They have a flat shape. Their size and flatness makes them stick together when they are wet. This makes clay hold its shape without falling apart.
5     Let's pretend you are a potter and want to make some pots to sell. First, you have to dig up chunks of clay. Then, the clay must be ground into a fine powder so it mixes well. You have to remove all the other stones by putting the powder through a sieve. Different ingredients can then be added to the clay to make it higher quality. Some clay needs coarser ingredients added so it can hold its shape. Then, the clay soaks in water and is kneaded to a perfect texture. Long ago, people thought a lot about how to make good clay.

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