Working with Clay

The children have had daily experiences with play dough and clay.  We have begun a study, allowing the children to familiarize themselves with each type of clay, in order to allow the children the freedom to create while learning how to use the clay as a “language”.

When the children work with clay they are:



·       Using our whole bodies – large and fine motor development.

–         We pound, pinch, roll, flatten, poke, tear, squeeze, coil, stretch, squash, twist and bend the clay into all different shapes and sizes.


·       Engaging in a multi-sensory activity

–         Clay can be slimy and wet, or hard and dry.  Different clays are different in smell and color.


·       Becoming familiar with another material to use as a “language”

–         There is no separation between the children and their work.  It is different from markers, paint, etc. because lines with markers and paint are unchangeable, however, a long coil of clay can become a snake, then a bowl, then a train.  Children enjoy the endless possibilities to transform what they create.


·       Stimulating curiosity

–         Intelligence, imagination, and creativity are engaged and fostered.




The children were provided several types of clay over the past weeks.  We gave it to them in different shapes, colors, and types.  Some clay was harder to manipulate than others.  We observed the children, and gave them time to familiarize themselves with the different types, to see how their curiosity drove this project.

We witnessed the children using their imaginations to create, they counted, they used materials to make impressions and manipulate the clay to name a few of the mini-projects that occurred.

Here is an example of one presentation of the clay.  On this day they were given brown clay in small balls.  Other days, they were given a solid block of clay, while other days the color might be white, or a firmer type of clay.

Each day was an invitation to try the clay in a new way.

It may surprise many adults to know that math turned out to be one of our main focuses as we worked with the clay.


Math was constantly incorporated as they worked.  The children enjoyed counting the balls of clay.  They would push them down, and count as they went down the line.

And at any point during the counting, one of the children would discover a new way to use the clay.  Pushing it into one of the provided materials, and observing his or her creation……


Learning to pinch and pull, roll and squeeze, in order to observe the properties of the clay….

This child, really put a big smile on our faces during our project!  He was observing how the teachers would take the sculptures the children would make, place them on a piece of paper, and write who and what it was.

Well, he took the liberty of doing it himself! lol!  He walked over with his “choo choo train” and wrote his name and what it was on the paper next to it!

Look how happy and proud he was……….




This child LOVES to make “snakes”.  This is her signature sculpture.  With every type of clay or play dough, this is what she creates.  She has even served as a teacher to some of the other children as she has taught them how to make “snakes”.    She lined them up next to each other.  Each time she added a new one, we took time to count them.  We continued counting and lining them up as she worked.


Through out the day, we always find creations left by the children on the table.  Each one different from the previous ones.

She enjoys using one little finger to delicately roll a “snake”…………

She is following her fellow classmate, and saying “roll it” as she makes them.

The “roll it” caught on, and we had several snakes made by the class that day…….


On a separate day, the clay was a provocation for a birthday party.

A group of children started gathering around the table singing happy birthday.  What this child created turned out to be a “lion cupcake”…..

He wasted no time joining in the party and created a “dinosaur cake”…….

And she made a “dinosaur cupcake” for the party…….

The only thing was that no one could taste the lion cupcake, but the one who made it, lol! ;(

Another day, the clay took on the form of an “umbrella”…….

now “two umbrellas”…….

Or maybe even a mid-day snack! ;0) ……………….

The possibilities were endless with the children, each day we are curious to see where the children take us in their work.  We continue to provide them the freedom to use the clay daily.  Daily experience with the clay allows the children to further their development in the stages of clay work.  As they continue to grow at our school, the work we see them create with clay will serve as a “language” to reinforce knowledge, and express their creativity.

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