Clay is an excellent sensory art material that can benefit your toddlers and preschoolers. It is naturally from the earth, not synthetically made. It helps with imagination, creativity, attention span, and fine and gross motor skills.
Benefits of Clay Play
- Motor skills – pinch, grasp, knead, flatten, roll, stretch, mold clay into a shape
- Eye-hand coordination
- Sensory Play – how does it feel: texture, sticky, wet, cold / smell – earthy smell
- Problem solves: how much clay should be rolled, flattened or stretched? Should it be small, thick or long pieces? As the child problem solve, they make choices to help with the process. While making birds, some children started with bigger pieces of clay. As they built the bird, they realized the beak and eyes needed smaller bits of clay. The biggest piece of clay was used for the body. The letter B was formed by rolling and curving the clay. After curving the clay they pinched it together to form the B. They notice the letter P was formed before the B. However, adding one more curve gave them the B.
B is for Bird
What colors begin with the letter B?
The week before, we invited the children to make bird sculptures. With open-ended questions, we asked, “Can someone describe a birds body?”, “How do you think the bird should be made?” The children told us we needed head, beak, belly, and feathers. As we discussed the birds’ anatomy, clay was introduced. It is recommended to use small group activities not large groups as clay can be a bit messy.
The clay was cut into small pieces and kept in a Ziploc bag; we had enough pieces for eight children. Cutting the clay in advance saves class time and avoids chaos. During the sculpting process, one child assisted the toddlers with theirs; she demonstrated how the head, body, and beak needed to be formed. She showed them how to knead, twist, break, pinch and push the clay.
That collaboration helped to make several birds that were air-dried and sent home.
Clay balls are added to the nest as bird eggs.
After playing with clay for days, my son made this baby boot similar to the one in his bedroom. And that’s precisely what playing with clay does. It fosters creativity and leads to more creations, even ones not related to the activity.
I encourage daycare providers, caregivers, nannies, and childminders to try the clay in your daycare – Miss Sue.
Want to know how to start your home daycare?
Here is a roadmap created by Denisse Garcia at Porch.com – click the link
When I opened my daycare fourteen years ago, I wished I had this valuable guide to help my process. Be sure to use the checklist.
XoXo – Miss Sue