Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Clay Exploraton and Self-Portraits

Self Portrait- 3.5 yrs old
For our clay week, the toddlers began their exploration with a variety of tools: clay hammers, plastic pizza wheels, plastic scissors and textured rolling pins. They also learned about rolling the clay into balls and coils to create small pieces that are easier to handle.
The garlic presses have proved to be quite popular with the little ones!
The teachers then introduced the technique of making prints by pressing various objects in to the clay. This was also explored in the opposite way with our press molds, where the children pressed clay into a mold of a shape or design. When they peeled it up, the clay took the same form as the mold!
Pretty soon, decorative items and paint were brought out to add to the clay.
For the 1s classes, the easels are a constant source of entertainment and investigation!
The older classes worked on sculpture and modeling. The 3s class focused on general sculpture and were offered toy trucks on the table as an inspiration. Some children opted to try to sculpt a truck, while others worked on more abstract sculptures using toothpicks to hold small shapes together. The 3s/4s and the 4s/5s classes all worked on self-portraits. They began by looking at a mirror and drawing themselves with a pencil and paper. After this initial step, they began to sculpt their faces out of clay. Some even went on to sculpt their whole bodies, which required learning about "scoring and slipping" the clay to attach two pieces together.

A self-portrait from the 3s/4s class:
In addition to making self-portraits in the 3s/4s class, some of the children were still very focused on their "houses" from last week. As a proponent of emergent curriculum, I believe it's important to follow the children's interests and guide the project in a new direction if need be. Luckily, the teachers believe in this as well and are great at facilitating this process! In this case, the children decided that they wanted to create furniture and various items to go into their houses. Their teacher, Jhaya, helped them figure out how to use the clay (along with other materials) as a medium for this work. Here is a bed for a fairy house made from clay and fabric...
I love the idea of extending the "house" project over multiple weeks. This is a great example how a simple art activity can turn into a long-term project with the right enthusiasm and guidance. We'll see this week if there is any interest in continuing this exploration!
If you're interested in trying these projects at home, check out our Make+Believe Create With Clay! Supply kit. 


  1. I just love how you use different art materials with all ages. I was in such a slump at the art table lately, until I began reading your blog and realized I was being, 1. way to 1 dimensional, 2. not providing extensions to the open ended art materials I put out, and 3. I was being to Teacher Oriented. Today I put out play dough we made together, I left them alone with it for awhile to explore, then we added glitter, then sequins, then tools... usually play dough is a few minute project, today they spent all morning going back and forth to it. I was very happy. Thanks!!!

  2. That's great. You're right, the key to keeping the kids interested for long periods of time is to bring new things out slowly over to course of the exploration. So glad I could help!