Do you ever feel like you are the “Clay Doctor?”… No “surgery” of broken that you can’t handle?.. I sure do!
Recently, after a month of clay on display, I was ready to send home clay pieces with all of my students. I have struggled over the years with how to safely and EFFICIENTLY send home clay with 500 students at two schools. There is absolutely no way I can purchase hundreds of dollars worth of bubble wrap to get this job done, and I am always looking for ways to maximize and not waste instructional time…. So, lets explore together other options for sending home those precious little ceramics.
Option 1- Bag it Up
The first method I try, which does work well, is the small paper bag. This doesn’t exactly protect the clay from breakage, but does send it home in a nice little package. My hope is, that by sending it in a stapled bag with a message, it will at least not get shoved in the bottom of backpack, but be handled with a little more care. It makes it seem like something very “special” is coming home.
The downside to this? It takes time. Whether you as the teacher bag these up yourself or have the students help you, it does take time and organization to successfully carry this out. I don’t manage to use this method with all of my groups, however, I do with the younger grades and with no exceptions, I make sure Kindergarten goes home this way.
Option 2: Send it Home “Naked”
Sometimes the clay pieces are odd sized. Sometimes I am short on time. Sometimes I just hand back the clay “naked”.. No packaging, no bag, no protection. I lecture and lecture. I tell the students to put this in their bag in a safe pouch in their backpack, maybe wrap their scarf around it or put it inside their shoe. Sounds pathetic, but I am trying instill some responsiblity in the kiddos, too. This is their precious clay, they must find a way to get it home safe. Life is not protected by bubble wrap. Most of the time this works…Except for one instance this year…
I get a call from a parent. It goes something like this “Johnny’s art came home today. Broken. If you just would have called me, I would have come and picked it up so it would have come home safe”… Uh. I tried to explain it was the student’s responsiblity to get the clay home safe, and we talked about this in class. I also tried to explain that I had 500 parents at two schools and it would be hard to call each and every one and let them know it was clay take home day. You get the picture.
….. Fast forward two days later, another teacher at our school saw this same student slamming his backpack on every library shelf as he walked by… So you tell ME how that clay got broken. Am I being to harsh when I say that at some point kids need some personal responsibility without mommy or daddy covering their every move? Enough said on the situation.
Option 3: Conferences and Concerts
Some teachers set up all the clay in their art room during conferences or during a concert. Then, parents can swing by and pick it up when they are in the building. Great idea in theory. The reason I don’t do this, is because too often you get half of the parents to show, and half to not show and you are STILL stuck with the task of hunting down the remaining stray clay parents/students and potentially sending it home no safer then it would have been before.
And when the worst happens…..
This was brought into me one day last week:
Poor Kid. She was so excited to share her pot with her mom (who teaches at our school) she ran up to her mom with her pot in her hands. Tripped. The pot flew to the floor, bounced (yes bounced) up and smacked her in the forehead and then shattered. Destructive, I tell ya! She had a HUGE goose egg and her pot looked worse than the above shot. This is me gluing it back together at about the halfway point. I returned it with a band-aid on it. All better now! I don’t mind helping out a student by playing “Clay Doctor”… Maybe I am too nice.
So, this brings me to the ultimate question, which I am still searching for the best answer on:
How do you safely and efficiently send home ceramics pieces with your students?
Please share, I am sure we all have some pretty creative solutions and can really help each other out.
(Pssstttt- Can’t get enough of the clay talk? Check out my posts on Clay Week, which chronicles the process I use to organize and orchestrate working with clay and 500 students, along with a few great lessons.)
Now if I could just figure out how to send it home…