This week we introduced real clay for the first time. Although we don’t have a kiln to fire finished products the experience of playing with real clay is incredibly enriching. The possibilities are virtually endless when you pair clay, water, paint, and glitter with a young child’s hands and imagination. I encouraged parents to grab a chunk and play with alongside their child as the manipulation of clay is very calming.
I started out every student with a small ball of clay on a tray and an assortment of tools. I learned quickly (it has been a while since I worked with clay) that plastic tools stick to the clay. I tried to supply as many wooden tools as I had, along with a few toddler safe knives and cookie cutters to inspire shapes.
After each child got used to the feel of the clay I added water. Water instantly makes the clay slippery and smooth, a texture that most children love.
Along with clay tools and water I encouraged students to paint directly on the wet clay with tempera paint. Most children welcomed the paint as it’s a familiar and instantly gratifying medium, where as the clay was very new for most. Painting directly on clay was a trick inspired by my dear friend Megan at Make + Believe.
We of course had to add glitter because glitter make everything better!
I love how each child, though influenced by the work around them, is still driven to explore and experiment in their own way on their own time. This group of students is a great example of how each child’s artwork is unique. One student made a glittered clay heart, one decided to coat a piece of paper in glitter/clay water, and the third is concocting a potion with glass rocks, paint, water and glitter (and wanted very little to do with the clay).
The clay project allowed for great conversations. We talked a lot about the feel of clay, it’s texture and temperature. We also discussed the marks each tool made, and the general shape each parent/child made together.
When children weren’t immediately drawn to work with the clay or needed a break from their clay work I encouraged painting.
I’ve been having a lot of fun teaching paper roll printing.