The song “Itsy Bitsy Spider” is a favorite among the infants in our classroom. To expand on their joy for this song, the teachers incorporated the jingle into one of the infants Fall Festival projects with the use of clay and paint! We gave children clay to sculpt their own “itsy bitsy spider” and black paint to explore with. The children thoroughly enjoyed molding the clay with their fingers, getting their hands full of paint, and many of them proceeded to cover their clay mold with the black paint. For an earlier blog on the importance of sensory play with infants, click here.
Clay play with infants is so important because it gives them an opportunity to squeeze, pinch, poke, pull, twist, and create with the molding material. Clay is a useful medium for infants to explore form and three-dimensional shape because it invites physical manipulation through a variety of ways. Infants respond particularly well to clay because it produces an immediate and satisfying change to its shape and form when they touch hit. According to Lisa Terreni, “As young children’s skill with clay develops from having regular access to it, increasingly complex experiments with form take place that can result in the creation of sophisticated and accomplished clay pieces.”
We also continued our study of food into a new activity by having the children paint pumpkins to add to their classroom pumpkin patch. It was so funny to observe the children’s wonder and curiosity about the pumpkin… a fruit that was bigger than their heads! Many of them delicately painted the pumpkin with just one finger instead of using their entire hand. This activity was a great project for their fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and dexterity. The infants are slowly learning and becoming accustomed to the sensation of where their hands, arms, and fingers are and how they are moving. We also discussed the colors of the pumpkin, the colors they painted on the pumpkin, and engaged in a visual sensory experience. A strange observation is that not one child painted the color orange or red on their pumpkin… all of them painted contrasting colors. The pumpkins fascinated the children, and some made it a goal to cover the entire surface of the pumpkin with paint!
The infants also made their own interpretation of a spooky ghost by using paint on a wet, white paper cloth. All of the pieces came out wonderfully! The children loved smearing the cloth across their highchair and observing the puddles of paint change. Occasionally one of the children would do away completely with the cloth and play with the pools of colored water on their highchair area. They would manipulate the shape and finding such delight in observing that their actions had an effect on the paint.
During this fun filled project, the infants worked with moldable clay that they manipulated with their hands and fingers, a hard pumpkin that provided a visual sensory experience, and delicate, soft, wet cloth that made different patterns and colors every time they swiped it across their high chair! This project was a wonderfully learning experience and opportunity for the children to work on their fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, cause-and-effect relationship, sensory play, and to just get messy! We love providing opportunities for children to have unstructured play, where mess is welcomed and exploring has no limits. For a brilliant article on the important of unstructured play and how it is crucial to children’s development, we highly suggested reading this: Greatergood.berkeley.edu