Through manipulating clay young children learn about cause and effect and develop their motor skills. I start each child with a ball or slab of clay and encourage them to feel the cool temperature and soft texture. It’s important to touch clay and work it in your hands to understand it’s potential. After hand working I introduce both traditional and alternative tools. Using tools often helps children who don’t like getting their hands “dirty” engage with the clay.

For this clay project I offered recycled materials (cut up straws, plastic bottle caps, and mardi gras beads) along with pipe cleaners. Some really fascinating sculptures emerged.


After the recycled materials got going I added paint to the table. It’s fun for children to paint right on top of the wet clay without waiting for it to dry and because I don’t have a kiln (yet!) this lesson is more about the process than product so we didn’t have anything to loose.

Water helps smooth even the smallest little crack or blemish on clay and also creates a slippery texture. Each student receives a small sponge and a tiny bit of water in the bottom of a recycled applesauce container. If the student ask for more I give a little at the time. If a toddler dumps the water right away it’s no biggie because we use trays. Often times students will soak up the excess water with their sponge and squeeze it back out as this toddler is doing below:

This photo below is a great example of students learning from one another. They are both exploring and enjoying the slippery sensory-filled experience of water, paint and clay.

Below is a 45 minute collaboration with a 4 year old student, mother, and myself:

Here is a toddler tray at the end of class.

Below is an example from a six year old.

Smiles and art just melt me.