Stems: The language of clay and using recipes

Stems: The language of clay and using recipes

January 25th, 2019

Hello Stem families,

Welcome into the classroom this week…

As we mentioned in last week’s blog and as you have seen in our classroom, we have introduced clay into our classroom.  Working with clay is a fantastic way to support fine motor development.  Fine motor skills are those that involve a refined use of the small muscles which control the hand, fingers, and thumb.  All of which are important for writing and for taking care of self-help tasks like tying shoes and buttoning and zipping clothes.  It can be a bit harder to manipulate clay than playdough, so it really gives those small muscles a good workout.

By exploring clay with the Stems we are not only supporting fine motor development and artistic expression but also giving them the opportunity to express themselves in new ways with the language of clay.  As already you know, the Stems are full of stories and have so much to say, so we thought this was a perfect time to present them with another “language” to express their ideas.  Loris Malaguzzi, the founder of the Reggio approach, is well known for talking about the 100 languages of children, “the infinite ways that children can express, explore and connect their thoughts, feelings, and imaginings.” We are very excited to see where the language of clay takes us!

Wondering what our clay exploration has looked like so far?

We started out last week by first using our hands as tools and seeing the different ways to create shapes and discover what we can do with the clay.  The Stems discovered they could roll the clay into balls, flatten the clay into circles, roll the clay into long tubes.  Some used both hands to pull the clay apart or pushed their fingers inside the clay to change the shape.


Later we introduced clay tools and they experimented with how to use the tools, sharing ideas with each other. As they worked we observed how they were using the tools, and asked them about what they discovered they could do with the tools.  As a result, we heard some really interesting descriptions and saw the Stems making suggestions to each other about how to use the tools.



Initially, all of the clay went back into the bag each day, but this week now that we are working with air dry clay, some of the Stems have started saving their creations.  And, some are even choosing to paint their clay pieces once they are dry.  Here are just a few items that have been created this week…




To help you see the amazing work that is happening with clay in our classroom, we are documenting their work along with observations and their descriptions. We will be hanging these photos and documentation above the Stems art area.  Be sure to take a look at drop off or pick up and ask your children to tell you about it further.

Another activity this week which really engaged the Stems was working together to follow a recipe.  We see lots of pretend cooking both inside and outside, and little by little we have been adding cooking tools to pretend areas as well as including food-related stories and actual cookbooks into our book collection.  But this week we took it one step further by following a recipe for a sensory dough called “Snow Dough.” Following a recipe is a great way to show the Stems how we use reading and math in our everyday lives.

During our small groups we initially talked about the recipe, using the visual recipe you see above.  We then took turns measuring, counting out amounts and adding the ingredients.

Some of the stems wanted to feel the cornstarch and noticed it is very soft and noticed the scent of the lotion.  After we got all the necessary ingredients added to the bowl, the stems took turns mixing everything.

When the dough was ready we took it out onto the playground to use. At the end of the week, a few of the Stems were curious what would happen if they added water to the dough – creating their own science experiment and transforming it into a new sensory material to play with.  Just one more example of how the Stems are always thinking of how to take learning to the next level.

We hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Ms. Inga & Ms. Soni