Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Chalice Children: A Program about Our Unitarian Universalist Community for Preschoolers

Activity 5: Play-Dough Chalices

Activity time: 15 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Modeling clay in a variety of colors, enough for at least an adult hand-sized ball for each child
  • Materials for decorating chalices, such as feathers, sequins, and chenille stems (pipe cleaners)
  • Small white paper plates, one for each child
  • Black marker
  • Paper towels, moistened
  • Optional: Digital camera or smartphone

Preparation for Activity

  • Locate some chalices (or pictures of chalices) to display.

Description of Activity

Children create a chalice out of play dough, then decorate it with a variety of add-ons.

Invite the children to the activity table. Describe the shape of a chalice. Note that it has a stem, a bowl, and (when lit) a flame. Show them a chalice. Remind them that the chalice is a common sign or symbol of our Unitarian Universalist faith (note: use our full name as often as possible, not our initials.)

Pass out a handful of play dough to each child. Invite the children to experiment with the modeling clay, twisting and rolling it. Ask if they’d like another color. Have them trade and share colors. Once the children have manipulated the modeling clay for a few minutes, invite them to create a chalice. Remind them of the key pieces: a stem, a bowl, and a flame, if they wish their chalice to be “lit.” Allow them time to experiment with different shapes of chalices.

Once the children have worked on their shapes, invite them to decorate their chalice by sticking on some of the materials you’ve provided.

As children complete their chalices, place each finished chalice on a paper plate, and label it with the name of the artist.

Invite the children to clean up. First, invite them to collect the unused modeling clay and return it to its container(s). Next, have them wipe up the clay spots from the table with moistened paper towels and then wash their hands.

Including All Participants

Playing with modeling clay is often a soothing activity for children with attention challenges. It may be beneficial for some preschoolers to simply play, rather than create a finished product.