Lately, we’ve been furthering our study of the alphabet in our summer school program by creating upper and lower case letters out of clay. In addition to furthering our study on the shapes and sounds of letters, the children were given a unique opportunity to form the shape of letters with their hands – to actually create the shape, not just write it in or not match it up, but create it. (This activity directly contrasts worksheets that we are all too familiar with: worksheets that instruct the children to write the shape perfectly with their pencil, not allowing marks outside the lines.)
Clay is a great medium for children’s sensory development, motor skills, self esteem, self expression, problem solving, discipline, pride and it has a unique quality that settles and calms children.
“The sensory experiences they encounter in our pottery studio are numerous and as they experience the texture and feel of the clay, the students express what they are sensing with uninhibited enthusiasm; “It’s cold, it’s wet and squishy, and it’s so heavy!” Clay asks to be poked, pinched, twisted and rolled and as they handle it, children develop both fine and major motor skills and realize that they have an effect on the clay as it responds to their manipulation.” – Patty Storms
In addition to furthering their knowledge of the shapes of letters, the children created unique texture with the clay: some children poked holes, some created lines, and some twisted the clay. Their investigation of texture and shapes allowed for a creative and unique learning experience because they are initiating the learning process and problem solving along the way. Projects where children create a tangible final product that they can hold, feel, and most importantly, show off, improve upon their esteem and pride.
Our favorite part of the day was comparing and contrasting thick and thin, big and small, smooth and rough, capital and lowercase, and letters, numbers and symbols.
After the children created upper and lowercase letters with clay, we worked on literacy by pairing certain letters together to create words, then discussing what the words mean and represent.