Stems: Diving deeper into the “languages” of Lego and Clay

Stems: Diving deeper into the “languages” of Lego and Clay

February 1st, 2019

Hello Stem families!  Welcome into our classroom this week…

It is hard to believe it is February already.  It has been a busy week in our classroom, two more of the Stems have turned 5 – a big happy birthday to Keenan and Olivia.  We also welcomed a new member into our class this week – Zachary has transitioned from the Roots classroom into the Stems.  Welcome!

Last week in the blog we mentioned Loris Malaguzzi’s 100 languages of children: “the infinite ways that children can express, explore and connect their thoughts, feelings, and imaginings.”  Just a few of the “languages” that are popular in our classroom right now are Lego, clay, and storytelling.  One of our goals in the Stems is to support our students to deepen their thinking and uncover new questions and curiosities.  This week that has led us to bring in books and pictures to discuss how some artists express their ideas.

Early in the week, we introduced some new books featuring artists who work with Legos.

At morning meeting, we looked at and talked about a few of the images in the books – such as a Lego sculpture that looks like melting ice or a giant Lego lion.  Looking at these books also gave us the chance to mention some of the qualities of a non-fiction book, pointing out how we can use the table of contents and page numbers to find the section that we are looking for.  These books have been available alongside our own Lego Catalog in the block area and have resulted in many conversations among the Stems… How did they make that? How many Legos did they use to build it? How big is it? How long would it take to build? (thoughts and questions that fit right in with our math concepts).

As the week went on, we also started to see some of the images in the books inspiring Stems to build or change their own Lego creations.  We are noticing that the Lego structures are becoming increasingly complex.

At the end of the week, Rainbow group started using Legos to build models planning for a group project.

Golden Star group will work on this next week, so be sure to check the blog next week for more about this exciting project. Also, if you are curious about what the Stems have been building, and how their Lego creations have changed since we started working with Legos be sure to take a look at our Lego catalog and documentation in the Block area.

Moving onto the language of clay…

To support the language of clay, we brought in a few handmade clay plates to notice the weight, texture, shapes, and colors.  And in our small groups, we looked at images of artwork and fine crafts made out of clay.

We talked about what the images reminded us of, noticed many different ways people use clay and were surprised that some of the artwork didn’t look like clay. It can be used in so many different ways! We followed this by thinking about our own ideas of what we could create with clay and many of the Stems worked in their idea books drawing or writing a word to represent their own idea of what could be made out of clay.

(Inspired by the images of ceramic pots, Riho works on her own idea of a “special cup”)


(Olivia illustrates an idea she had with the clay the day before.  If you look closely you can see the drawing of the clay tool and the arrows to explain how she used the tool to open the mouth of the animal she was making – her finished clay piece is the red item on the left – “a hippo with an open mouth”)

As we observe the Stems express their ideas in all sorts of ways, we are beginning to ask them where their ideas come from.  We have noticed that inspiration seems to come from books, stories, images they have seen, personal experiences and each other’s work.

(Zachary points out what he saw in the book that gave him the idea to make a Lego ice cream truck)

(Diego has decided he wants to make a ceramic plate like one of the ones in our class – he includes the details he sees as most important, which are on the bottom side of the plate)

(Leila includes “ah, ah, ah, choo!” when people smell roses in her dictated story, remembering that detail from the storytelling of “Robert the rose horse”).

(A snowman built by Emma inspires several other class members to make a clay snowman)

While we observe these connections and many times the Stems can tell us, sometimes when we ask where an idea has come from, the answer is just that the idea was “in their head.” That alone is an interesting thought, can a 4 or 5-year-old explain how an idea gets into their head? We would love to explore that a little further.   When you see your child working on a project or when they bring something home that they have made at school, try asking how they came up with the idea to make it.  And, if you feel up to it, ask them how they think an idea can get into someone’s head. It will be interesting to see what they have to say and we would love to hear about the conversations these questions bring up.

So many other things have been happening this week….

New ideas of how to use the tricycles on the playground, attempts at jumping rope, the “guess that number/guess that letter” game, following last week’s snow dough recipe again out on the playground and then adding more and more water to see what would happen, a discussion about classroom jobs and so much more!

Have a wonderful weekend!

  • Inga & Ms. Soni