We use a variety of mediums throughout the program including clay.
I decided it would be fun to make some stomach bowls. The bowls would have clay food and the ability to put real food in them too.
The age group I worked with are 4-5 year olds. We spoke about where our stomachs are, what they do, what shape they are. The main focus was to encourage abstract placement and understanding of the stomach. To have them visualize a stomach and then encourage them to create a similar shape out of clay.
This is a difficult thing for children this age to do as they are still developing their abstract thinking skills. So patience is important, some kids may have never even thought about what shape or colour a stomach is before.
First I gave out a bowl mould and a small piece of clay (note I had the bowl open side down but you could roll out the clay and slab it inside the bowl to take the shape as well). Kids were encouraged to use the PALM of their hand not their fingers to push the clay down to take on the bowl shape.
Next they took the clay off the bowl and again we discussed the shape of a stomach; is it a circle or oval shape? Given it is an oval shape we gently pinched the sides of the bowl to encourage more of a oval shape.
To form the esophagus and duodenum (where it connects to the intestines) the kids rolled out a piece of clay to make a tube. They cut the tube in half and pushed their thumbs into one side to create a slide or celery shape. They did this to both halves of the tube.
We spoke about the placement of the esophagus and duodenum. This is a good opportunity for kids to problem solve and use their critical thinking skills by posing questions rather than giving answers. Eg: Let's trace how our food goes to our stomach and out of it. Where do you think the esophagus attaches to the stomach? Do you think it would work if we put it on the side? How about the duodenum? Will the food be able to move down our body if it was right beside our esophagus?
The kids will need to put a little U shape in the side of their stomach bowl where they will put their esophagus and duodenum. Ensure they scratch and attach using a toothbrush and water!
Lastly they can build small pieces of food to go in the stomach. If some kids are struggling they can draw with a toothpick or skewer.
Ensure you remind them of the important rules to ensure their clay dries without cracking/falling apart:
- No clay should be thicker than your thumb or it won't dry
- Clay shouldn't be paper thin or it will crack, (you can make thin pieces but they must lay down onto thicker pieces)
- Always scratch and attach (ensure they always tap their toothbrush, 1, 2, 3, times on the side of their water container to knock off extra water as too much water will cause their clay to crack too)
***It is a good time to walk around and write their name and the year on the bottom of their clay while they are building their food.**