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Core Meaning and Clay Modeling: A Lesson Plan

Updated: Nov 14, 2020

I think clay modeling is an excellent way to really visualize the core meaning of a particle/adverb/preposition, and then creatively explore how other meanings are connected to the core meaning.

Keep in mind that I analyzed the particle OUT myself, using the PHaVe dictionary and a bit of research. From what I've seen, everyone that analyzes these kinds of words comes up with a slightly different interpretation. Which is fine - that's what you want to see when your students are modeling these words in clay. It's the creative and individualized visualization of these words, and the connection to concepts already in your mind, that brings these words to life. So have fun with it! Maybe you'll get stuck on a few verbs like "check out"and wonder where the heck this word fits into the scheme of things. And maybe you'll come up with a unique and individual way to connect it with the other meanings. And if you do this, guaranteed, you'll remember the meaning of that word for the rest of your life.

Here's a lesson plan to play around with - don't forget to download the materials at the end of this blog!

Lesson Plan #2: Exploring OUT using Clay Modeling

Purpose: To guide students to a visual and spatial understanding of the word OUT and how the meanings are all related to a single core meaning: leaving a container.


· Blackboard or whiteboard with writing utensil

· “Clay Modeling Handout for OUT”

· “Talking to Your Clay - OUT”

· Modeling clay

Lesson Plan:

1. Using concentric circles (see handout), illustrate the core meaning of OUT and related meanings on the board. These are illustrated in the “Clay Modeling Handout for OUT”

and in the video “Adverbial Particle OUT”

Make sure to begin with the core meaning “OUT is LEAVING a CONTAINER.”

3. Discuss example phrasal verbs and sentences with the students.

4. For additional support, have the students create a mind map using the new information, like this one:

Again, start with the core meaning. Link connected meanings to the core meaning on the mind map.

5. Hand out “Clay Modeling Handout for OUT” and “Talking to Your Clay - OUT” sheets to students.

6. Model the first model with your students – the model of the core meaning. Guide the students through the process.

7. Discuss what they created. It is fine for them to say, “I can’t explain it, but it makes sense to me.”

8. Continue modeling all the meanings of “OUT” as much as time allows. You should spend about 7 minutes per model once the process is understood.

Lesson Plan #2 - Clay Modeling
Download DOCX • 21KB
Clay Modeling Handout for OUT
Download DOCX • 62KB
Talking to Your Clay - OUT
Download DOCX • 23KB

And last but not least, the link again to my video on OUT, just in case you missed it in another post:

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