Monday, April 4, 2011

Ceramic Whistles

- Clay
- Ceramic Tools
- Slip
- Popsicle Stick (one for each child)
- Plastic Ziploc Bag (one for each child, for storage)

My kids love making these ceramic whistles. I think it may have to do with the fact that they are functional. I didn't have the best opportunity to take pictures for step-by-step directions, as we all know how messy doing a ceramic lesson may be.

It did take me a solid 5 quarters or so to really get the method and procedure down. Here are some links that explain the process I did:

I like doing this project, too, because the kids really can almost make anything they want. It just has to have a mostly bulbous shape. 

A few key pointers:
- The mouthpiece needs to be flat when connected to the whistle.
- When carving out the airhole, you should be able to see inside the hollow whistle. If you see clay instead of an empty hole, it most likely will not work.
- The angle created really needs to be at 45 degrees. The biggest issue I saw most of my students have trouble with is making sure that 45 degree angle doesn't curve inside the whistle. It really needs to be a sharp, slanted angle. 
- I keep the popsicle stick inside when trying to make the 45 degree angle- take out when testing- and then place back inside for the ENTIRE project until each student is absolutely done and is ready to start drying out. This helps keep the mouthpiece in place once it is working. Once they "lose" it, it's hard to get back.
- To store unfinished projects, I place in a plastic bag, squeeze out the air, roll and tuck- sometimes spraying with a water bottle or wrapping with a wet paper towel. 

(I apologize for all these italics, Blogger is being weird...)


  1. Oh my this is so ambitious! I have a clay whistle a teacher gave me and feel overwhelmed trying to get 30 kids to make them. Yours are even more creative the one he gave me. I wonder. . . how hard is it really? Would you attempt it with a group of 5th graders? I always wanted to try it. Maybe I'll "go there" when I get up the courage and have time to practice. Did you have to practice a lot first?

  2. I will admit, it's a trickier project that requires A LOT of patience and listening. When I made my exemplar to try it out first, it came out perfect... so I'm thinking... oh this is easy peasy! I soon found out that even when you go slowly and step-by-step, there are students that just have a difficult time. I ALSO found out, however, that some students are AWESOME at this, so they become my helpers. I've actually learned some tips from them! haha...

    I do this with my 6th graders, usually with a class size around 25, and sometimes two 6th grade classes at once. I make maracas in 5th grade (should post some pics tomorrow) because it starts off the exact same way, just without the mouthpiece. It's the same open concept as far as ideas, and we joke around that sooner or later we're going to make instruments for an entire band.

    Anywho... it is a little difficult at first, especially if you're going off written directions. I personally prefer to be taught with an example right in front of me. BUT... once you get the hang of it, you know exactly what the kids need to fix and it's smooth sailing from there. You should hear the hallways when they get them back, it's whistles galore and the teachers have me to thank :).