Designing Clay Suns with Corn Kernels…

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We are constructing our weather themed chandelier at The Patch.  Friday each tyke constructed a bead thread using one of the colors of the rainbow.  We also added a few fun clouds.  Today, we worked on sun mosaics using dry corn kernels and a wonderful clay recipe that I have fallen in love with.

The day started simple enough.  We rolled out the clay, cut the clay with jar lids and the tykes designed their own sun as we talked about how nice it is to be outside on warm sunny days and that hopefully, today, we would be able to finally get outside.  Pretty simple.  Pretty straight forward preschool activity.  Pretty stress free activity….. I was so tickled with myself and so inspired by the intentional designs each tyke created. Yup….I was feeling like I had totally rocked this plan…..and…..then…..

My oven chimed to tell me it was preheated to 200 degrees.  As I carried the cookie sheet with our Rembrandt sun designs to the stairwell, I began to wonder exactly how hot 200 degrees felt to a corn kernel….I began to rethink the intelligence of using corn kernels for this project…

As I started up the first part of the landing, I mused that my air popper felt a LOT hotter than a mere 200 degrees.  It was probably like 400 degrees so that all the kernels popped to perfection.  I convinced myself that microwave popcorn probably reached an alarming 600 degrees…..And by the time my foot reached the last step, I had totally convinced myself that there was no need to worry about my oven catching on fire to the beat of corn kernels exploding….

Opening the oven door, everything went into slow motion as math equations and logic and reason and artistic flare all went to war in my head… I felt like Martha Stewart was on one shoulder saying, “It’s fine! If they do pop, think about the decorative popcorn string you can create to feed to the birds and squirrels in the neighborhood”, and Smokey the Bear was on my other shoulder sadly and slowly saying, “Only you can prevent forest fires”…..

I’m not sure how I chose Martha over Smokey, but the cookie sheet went in, the oven door was shut, the timer was set, and I went back downstairs hoping that the C- I made in high school algebra was good enough to keep all good in my hood…..

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I kept a close ear in case those kernels did decide to pop for the next hour.  Nothing…..Zip…..Nada…..I am so happy and relieved to report that corn kernels do NOT pop at a mere 200 degrees. Even after being in an oven for an hour.

Martha and I did a happy dance as I pulled the cookie sheet out of the oven, and Smokey wiped his brow in relief…The tykes all danced and clapped as their masterpiece was hung on our beloved tree limb….And….I’m still high fiving my obvious maturing math skills and calculations.

I wonder if my high school math teacher would add a few points to that C- to make it a nice fat, juicy, and well-earned C+……..

Here’s the recipe for the clay – it’s AWESOME and comes with a bonus: You can safely add corn kernels to the design….. 🙂

1 cup baking soda, 1/2 cup cornstarch, 3/4 warm water…combine in old sauce pan and stir constantly over low heat until the mix becomes thick and looks like regular play dough. Remove from heat and once it is cool enough to handle, knead until smooth.  I put the mixture in a zip lock back over night and it was still fresh the next morning for our sun creations. Cook on parchment paper for one hour at 200 degrees.  Turn oven off and flip pieces over to dry the bottom of the pieces while the oven cools down.

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Here’s to a day where Martha, Smokey and Ms. Patty all got to wear the “I Did Good” button…..

Until next time,

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