Making clay poppies with 5 year olds – what could go wrong??
One of the major parts of the Southend Schools Festival of Remembrance is our work with schools to build an exhibition near the Southend Cenotaph based around clay poppies made by the hands of the children – and it’s enjoyable in a way that a lot of art isn’t when you can’t draw or paint or even write very neatly. A big thanks to the wonderful leadership team at Hinguar Primary and Nursery School who gave us the chance to start our poppy making off early with the children of the Reception Class.
SSFR Project Artist, Mary Lister, led the children and me through squishing the clay between our fingers to make it more malleable, then rolling it out into a nice thin splodge to cut the petals out of. If the looks on the children’s faces were anything to go on then they were enjoying it as much as I was! Mary is great with the children, helping them out when they need it, putting them back on track when their attention wanders, and making sure everyone is getting the tools they need to make their own very unique and personal clay poppy.
So once we all had our 4 poppy petals cut out – in varying sizes despite all working from the same templates :D – it was time to gently join the petals together so that they started to look like the Corn Poppy they are representing. There might have been a few dropped petals and a couple of ripped one too, but despite the squeals of dismay this wasn’t a drama because Mary was on the scene and everything was put right and smiles were restored.
It can be tricky to join 4 petals in the right order without pressing them flat, ripping one through the other and or out you’ve got them in the wrong order when you think you’ve done everything wonderfully and the children guided by Mary seemed to manage but then I did with my several times mended poppy.
Then it was just a matter of rolling a ball of clay and squashing it into a button for the middle bit of the poppy and then we had a group of proud 4, 5 and 48 year olds with the finished article. Now they just have to dry for a week and we get to paint them - great fun!
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