Building an Earthen Oven at IICS

A step by step tutorial...

The individual activities that comprise the lesson plan are described below. This project can be done by one class or by several classes in cooperation with one another.

1. Children will gather information about how to build and use earthen ovens. Interviewing grandparents or other elders is an important part of the research process.

2. Children will present their knowledge to the school community -- other classes, teachers and staff, including security guards and groundskeepers.

3. Children will decide on the best location to build the oven. Things to consider include any dangers (i.e. near a tree or a gas pipeline), whether the smoke might disturb neighbours, and rainwater runoff. Students will draw a map of the school grounds and mark the area where the oven will be constructed.

4. Children will make a model earthen oven out of clay; once it has dried they will test it by lighting a fire in it.

5. Children will research the price of different building materials - clay bricks, AAC building blocks (YTONG), firebrick, clay powder, earth, straw (¼ bale)

6. Children can visit a pottery studio and do research on clay

7. Children can buy the clay bricks, AAC building blocks and firebrick from a construction supply store (Inşaat Malzemeler)

8. The children should unload all building materials by themselves and bring them to the construction site using a wheelbarrow.

9. As soon as weather conditions allow, construction can start (check the forecast online)

• build the foundation out of wooden blocks and stones

• create a layer of firestones by placing them on top of the foundation

• build the first wall around the firestones with clay bricks

• layer newspapers on top of the fire stones and then build a dome of sand

• make sure the opening of the oven is well-supported; use a bucket when placing the clay bricks (this will be removed later)

• build a dome with the clay bricks, relying on the clay powder mixture for support.

• fill all holes very well with the clay powder mixture

• mix the clay, earth, straw and water together very well using your feet

• apply the mixture on the oven and cover the entire surface carefully

• decorate the surface of the oven with mosaics or drawings

• let the clay dry for 5-10 days (according to size of oven and weather) and then remove the bucket and empty the inside of the oven (take out the sand)

• within a few days, light a small fire in the oven in order to dry its inside and outside

• install a door over the entrance

• build a waterproof roof to protect the oven

• the oven can be painted or decorated with chalk and clay mixtures

To avoid accidents while the oven is hot, build a fence around the oven.