AP3 Design a Japanese Tea Bowl

Imagine walking through a garden or the woods to the Japanese Tearoom. What would you see along the path?

Design a tea bowl for the tea ceremony. Your design may show what you see along the path today, or what you remember from another season. First draw your design and then paint over it with a watercolor glaze.

When the paint is dry, cut out your tea bowl to display in the display case.

Lesson Plan: Design a Tea Bowl

Target Grade: 3

Standards of Learning

History 3.12

Visual Arts 3.17, 3.25, 3.26


Students examine the form and design of Japanese tea bowls, and then design their own two-dimensional tea bowl for display.


  • Students will learn that traditional Japanese tea wares are different from tea wares used by people in the United States and other western cultures.
  • They will learn distinguishing characteristics of traditional Japanese tea bowls
  • They will design their own Japanese-style tea bowl for display.

Essential Question(s):

What is a traditional Japanese tea “bowl”?

How does it compare to western-style tea wares?


  • 45 minutes
  • Classroom with space for drawing or painting
  • Individual work


  • Coloring pencils or crayons
  • Paintbrushes and watercolor paints
  • Containers for water
  • Glue
  • Large poster board designed to look like a display case with shelves for tea bowls


Find examples of traditional Japanese tea bowls online and save for overhead projection.

Photocopy a Japanese Tea Bowl Pattern (AP #3) for each student.


  1. Have students recall their own special occasions—weddings, birthdays, graduations, etc. How do we know it’s a special occasion Children may mention dressing up, receiving invitations, exchanging gifts, and that Grandma uses the best china.

  2. Ask students to recall what they learned from the Tea in a Box presenters about the Japanese tea ceremony. What makes it special? Help them to recall the host’s special preparations, including the placing of tea flowers and the hanging of a scroll, and the use of special utensils and tea wares. Ask them to imagine going to the Japanese tea room right now. What is the special occasion for our tea? (Choose any.) What do we see? Help them to recall that traditionally guests enter through a garden or natural setting. What would that setting look like now, in the current season? How does it feel to walk through a garden, the woods, or the beach?

  3. Project images of Japanese tea bowls. Ask students to describe the designs they see. Many will be images from nature—flowers, trees, animals. Can they determine the season from the art on the tea bowl?

  4. Pass out the tea bowl patterns and the colored pencils or crayons. Ask the students to design a tea bowl with images from nature. They may be images that reflect the current season, or another favorite season. After drawing, have them paint over the tea bowl with a watercolor “glaze.”

  5. Have students cut out their tea bowls and glue them on the shelves of the poster board display case. Hang the display case on a bulletin board or tape it to the wall.


Ask students to look at the tea bowls in the display case poster. Have them write a paragraph that

describes the bowl they would most like to have during a tea ceremony and why. Or have students write a

paragraph that compares the Japanese tea ceremony with one of their own special occasions.


  • Have students design a tea scroll for the tea room alcove, or tokonoma.

  • Have students use the clay coil method to create a three-dimensional tea bowl, adding a coil at the base to form the special “foot” that distinguishes a Japanese tea bowl from other kinds of bowls. Seasonal designs can be painted on the bowls after they dry, but the bowls will be “for display only” unless they are glazed and kiln fired. (Visual Arts 3.11)



This link brings you to pages about the tea ceremony on the Kids Web Japan site.

Printable forms of these documents: AP3 Tea Bowl Pattern and Lesson Plan: Design a Tea Bowl

Tea in a Box© 2007, Washington and Lee University