In the Classroom

Science Discipline(s)

Biology, anatomy, physiology


Medical science, cardiovascular system

Activity Title

Clay-Ate the Cardiovascular System


  • Twenty pounds of red clay
  • Twenty pounds of blue clay
  • 100 half sheets of laminated template paper
  • Paper towels
  • Sharpies
  • Plastic knives
  • Plastic rollers
  • Completed models/examples
  • Cardiovascular system models/diagrams


Advanced Preparation:

Before the start of the activity the clay can be divided into smaller cubes so that it can be easily portioned out to students.


  • Obtain a piece of red clay and roll it into a ball the size of a milk dud or peanut M&M.
  • Then shape that small ball into a sort of strawberry – this is the heart.


  • Roll out some more clay into a thin rope, this is an artery, more specifically the aorta, and attach it to the right side of the heart.
  • Curve the aorta around the heart to form a loop.


  • Expand the aorta throughout the arms and legs.


  • Obtain some blue clay and roll it out into another thin rope, these will be the veins that carry the deoxygenated blood back to the heart.
  • Attach the veins to the left side of the heart.
  • Expand the veins throughout the arms and legs.




  1. What are the major components of the circulatory system, and what do they do?
  2. Why is it important that left and right sides of the heart act separately?
  3. Where does blood enter and leave the heart?
  4. Why do we use both red and blue clay?
  5. What is homeostasis, and how can the cardiovascular system be used to maintain it?


  1. The major components of the circulatory system are the heart, arteries, veins, and blood vessels. The heart pumps blood to the lungs to become oxygenated via arteries and then receives the deoxygenated blood back through the veins. Blood vessels transport the blood throughout the body.
  2. It is important that the right and left sides are separated and act separately because it prevents the mixing of oxygenated and deoxygenated blood.
  3. The blood enters the heart through the right ventricle and right atrium, and leaves it through left and ventricle and left atrium.
  4. We use the different color clays to differentiate between the oxygenated (red) and deoxygenated (blue) blood.
  5. Homeostasis the regulation of the body’s functions. The cardiovascular system can thermoregulate by releasing heat via opening up the blood vessels near the surface when the body is overheated. They can also constrict and restrict the flow of blood to the most important organs when the body gets too cold.

Next Generation Science Standards

  • PK – grade 3 students
    • 1-LS1-1, 2-LS1-1, 3-LS1-1
  • Grade 4 – 6 students
    • 3-LS1, 4-LS1
  • Middle school students
    • MS-LS1-1, MS-LS1-2, MS-LS1-3, MS-LS1-4, MS-LSI-5
  • High school students
    • HS-LS1-1, HS-LS1-2, HS-LS1-3, MS-LS1-4,