Creative Engineering with Clay in Second Grade

It was a fun afternoon of assembling and disassembling, constructing and deconstructing, and putting together and taking apart – all in the name of creativity and science for second-grade students in Mrs. Vickery’s class at Matthew Paterson Elementary.

In order to become expert builders, students first learned some new lingo. The students discussed the words “build” and “wreck” and the many available synonyms for those words. For the word “wreck,” they easily provided several appropriate and creative responses:

Students construct figures at their desks with clay and toothpicks

 “Something is destroyed,” said Lilliana Szczepaniak

“It fell down,” added Mason.

Other answers included “smush it,” “knocked it down,” “smashed,” and “mess it up.”

During a recent fundations lesson, the students learned about prefixes and suffixes, particularly “de-” and “dis-.” There was another word to add to their list: “deconstruct.”

After reviewing their vocabulary, the students were provided with a hands-on opportunity to become engineers and sculptors. Working in small groups, they had a chance to construct different figures using clay and toothpicks. As one student constructed, the others sketched the result, each taking turns as the lead builder.

For each figure completed, students used their imaginations to visualize different things:

“It looks like an upside-down ice cream cone that is melted on the bottom,” said Ava Carroll of one of the figures. She imagined either strawberry or orange flavored.

“Now it’s a tower,” said Ashton Ramdihal, turning the figure a different way. Depending on how they viewed the figure, each student envisioned something different using their imaginative thinking.

At the end of the lesson, each student took a share of the clay home to keep.

“You can practice constructing, assembling or building things and then deconstructing, disassembling or taking them apart,” said Vickery, bringing the lesson back to the vocabulary the students learned.

Happy building, young engineers and sculptors!