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Clay, No Chaser

It’s really dirty.

It’s kind of brown.

It’s kind of cold, too.

It smells good.

It puts mud on us.

It is hard to squish.

If you tear off pieces, it’s easy to squish.

It’s very, very sticky, and it’s very, very messy!

It’s easy to stack pieces because it’s sticky.

A ball of clay on a piece of waxed paper, no cookie cutters, no tools.

At first the children were confused—what are we supposed to do with it?

I respond: What do you want to do with it? Smell it. Touch it. What does it feel like? Use your hands to change the shape of the clay.

Introducing children to clay WITHOUT adding tools or accessories provides them with the opportunity to experience the clay purely. When we give them cookie cutters and rolling pins and clay tools, we immediately set an unspoken limit on the possibilities of clay. It’s important that children explore hand-building with clay first so that they develop their own understanding of how this medium works. This leads to more creative and sophisticated work on the part of the children. They learn to shape, mold, and combine pieces in ways that are important to developing hand strength, imagination, and expression.

Then the addition of tools becomes simply that: an ADDITION to further the children’s original ideas.


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