How to use clay with kids

 

Kids love working with their hands, and there's nothing better for fighting boredom than clay projects. Kids can knead it, divide it, form small figures – and they can destroy and knead it again!

Clay - an element wich is fun and a fantastic sensory integration learning experience for children and adults at all ages.

In the context of Working With Clay the child/adult discovers and learns:

Math concepts: 2d shapes - 3D shapes - creating any kind of shapes and figures/sculptures

Fine-motor (Muscles): strengthen all muscles of the hand

Taktile (Touch): Cold - warm - soft - hard - moistures - dry - wet

Smell: earth or soil, straw

There are a few things kids need to know about clay, and you should have a specified work area. But once you set up the area, the only thing left to do is start creating. Set up the work area by displaying paper, wax paper or a tray onto a table. You can give the kids tools for working with the clay. Cookie cutters, old silverware, toothpicks, rolling pins and pizza cutters all make good clay working tools. Unless if you want to use clay in combination with straw, for creating bricks or making big sculptures, you will need an outdoor place to mix the clay-straw-water with hands or feet. Make sure the kids know not to put the clay in their mouth.

A small jar with water is also very handy. When your fingers are a little bit wet it's much easier to even the clay.

Especially with small kids you don’t have to prepare great pieces of arts. You can even just ask them to touch and knead the material. In the beginning you should let them experience this outrageous, wet and soft material. When they got to know the characteristics of it and found out how to use it best it’s the right time to start forming the clay!

At the beginning, the clay is still very hard. It must be kneaded well! Maybe you must help your kids at that point. Then you can choose one or two of the following projects – or you can make up your own project!

A HANDPRINT

Form a ball out of the clay. Then flatten it to a 2cm high disc. With wet fingers you can even the sides of the disc. Now your kid can press its hand/hands (or even its foot) into the clay. If you want to hang this on a wall, you should insert a little hole. If you put in a maccaroni at that place the hole will be neatly done.

If you want to connect two pieces, simply scratch some lines into the related areas. Dampen them, join both parts together and smoothen.

A LADYBUG

The kids create the form of a ladybug from the clay (they can make a ball and flatten it a bit). With a toothpick they can draw lines to indicate wings. They can also draw a mouth and eyes with it. With a pencil they can press some dots into the wings.

A SNAIL (laying)

Form a long and a short rope out of clay. Roll the long one like a snail’s house. The short rope will be the body. Connect both, house and body, as mentioned before by scratching lines, dampening the areas and smoothening it. With a toothstick you can draw eyes.

A POT

Cover the inside of a small cup or bowl with some tissue. Form a ball out of the clay and put it into the bowl. Now pull a hole into the middle of your ball with your thumb – but the thumb shouldn’t touch the ground. Widen this hole carefully with your finger. Slowly the clay will be pressed towards the bowl and will be brought into the shape of a pot. The sides should be about 1cm thick. Finally, even it with wet fingers. It can dry inside the bowl.

You can take the pot out of the bowl and scratch patterns into the wet clay.