As a high school ceramics teacher, remote learning has presented many challenges. Among them has been getting affordable and practical supplies for students to use at home. This DIY tool kit has done the trick for a cost of less than $1.65 per student:

  • A. A 12×18-inch piece of craft foam to use as a work surface. The clay doesn’t stick to craft foam, and the foam doesn’t leave unwanted marks on clay like canvas can. (Pack of 10 for $9)
  • B. A 12×18-inch piece of black construction paper for students to use as a backdrop when taking photos of their work. (Pack of 50 sheets for $4.19)
  • C. Large paperclips can double as a pin tool on one side and a loop tool on the other; just unbend one end for the pin tool, and keep a loop on the other side for carving. Taping the altered paperclip to the end of a pencil can help make it easier to use. (10 packs of 100 paperclips for $7.87)
  • D. A ½×12-inch dowel rod can be used as a rolling pin for slab projects and to practice the broomstick method. (Pack of 50 for $14)
  • E. Serrated plastic knives can replace both a wooden knife tool and also a serrated rib. (Pack of 50 for $5)
  • F. Two 1-inch washers and 7-pound fishing line make an effective wire tool. Cut the fishing line in lengths of about 15 inches and tie a washer to each end to make sturdy handles. (250 yards of fishing line for $2; pack of 100 washers for $13.15)
  • G. A used gift card makes a great smoothing rib and can be used to replace a variety of other tools. The plastic is thin enough to cut with scissors, so students can make custom shapes great for cleaning hard-to-reach areas. (Free)
  • H. A 2×2-inch piece of egg-crate foam makes an effective sponge. Ask your tech department to save foam from the boxes computers are shipped in, then cut the sheets of foam with a paper cutter or scissors. (Free)