Clay is a fascinating medium. It will keep the busiest toddler sitting and engaged. Clay responds well to hands or tools and presents the perfect amount of challenge and intrigue.
I usually filter out tools in two stages. First I offer a combination of larger tools that are a fun, wacky, and traditional such as: lego blocks, toddler knives, cookie cutters and rolling pins. After students have explored the first batch of tools I filter in more traditional and classic clay tools such as wooden knives and scrapers. I also offer up more zany tools like a butter slicer. Some of these require adult assistance the first time but most kids will run with it after one demonstration.
I got the fabulous idea to incorporate nature materials from Make+Believe. I enlisted my two year old son to help me collect moss covered sticks on a walk the weekend prior to the project and added leaves and flowers to the collection after dead heading in my garden.
We do not have a kiln so we focused primarily on process which included using wet paint on wet clay.
Painting tools is encouraged as much as painting clay.
The students had a great time painting the flowers, petals and sticks too.
The sculptures, textures, and creativity that emerged from this project were fabulous.
Some students created fairy lands and forests.
For students three and older I offered to teach pinch pots. Many were interested (and some parents too!) so we embarked on squeezing our ball and digging our thumbs into the middle, turning and pulling out the walls with our thumbs. Some of my students are born naturals with this process and had very successful pinch pots.
The chickens are six weeks old and still changing by the day. They have proven to be very docile and friendly with the kids.