Red Flags
Always dig in a safe area—free from hazardous material.

Questions to Ask
Where do we see bricks? What do you think bricks are made of? What shapes are they? How do they get to be a certain shape? What could you build with bricks?

Science Connection
Clay is made up of very fine flat mineral particles of earth. When wet, the tiny particles stick and the clay becomes soft and pliable. When the clay dries, the clay particles stay together and the clay becomes very hard.

Why
To explore clay

What You Need

  • Paper milk carton
  • Ice cube tray or something else to use as a mold
  • *Clay-rich soil
  • Water
  • Stick
  • Cut up straw or dry grass

    What to Do
    Have the children place the soil in the mold and add a little water. Then they can stir the mixture with sticks and continue mixing while adding just enough water to make it thick. Next they should add the dry grass to the mixture and tap the mold to compress the mud. To bake their bricks, put them in a warm, sunny place. What do the children think will happen to the bricks?

    When they are hard and dry, the children can peel away the carton or pop the bricks out of the tray.

    Ask them to try building something with their bricks. What might they use as mortar to help stick the bricks together?

    Vocabulary
    Brick: A molded rectangular block of clay baked by the sun or in a kiln until hard.

    Clay: A kind of soil made up of very fine, flat mineral particles that stick together.

    Compress: To press together

    Mold: A hollow form in which something is shaped. The cartons or ice cube tray are the molds for this activity.


    Try This
    What types of molds would you need to make a house, a car, a tower?

    What would you use to make a bridge?

    How would you use 10 paper cup molds? What could you build?
    Try painting your completed structures.

    You might want to dramatize “The Three Little Pigs”. Discuss the different materials the children would like to use for the “houses”. Which material would create the strongest house. Why?

    *Clay is made of very fine, flat particles that stick together. To test soil for clay, take a handful and squeeze it. If it holds its shape, it has clay particles in it.

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