Reggio Inspired: Clay Play

The following photos are from two classrooms at Rosa Parks Preschool, Mrs. Winters and Mrs. Terry. A huge thank you to the teachers!!

It begins with one slice of clay.
A blank canvas receptive to endless explorations . . .
Squishing and pulling pieces off.
Using a tool to make markings and indentations.
Exploring the ability the clay has to hold an object upright.
Making textures and impressions.
Working with the small pieces – focusing on the details.
Clay exploration pieces on display.  Mrs. Terry figured out how to make these great shelves.  Love it!

The clay pieces are allowed to air dry.
I noticed one teacher had put an acrylic finish over some of the dried pieces and it worked beautifully.

Provide clay boards.  A clay board is a board covered in muslin.  You can use a tray as well.
Provide a piece of clay on the board.
Do not instruct the children.  Allow open and free exploration.
Clay play works well as a small group center or station with 4 to 6 children.


  • Developmental growth:
    • Manipulating (squishing, squeezing, pulling, pushing, etc)  a piece of clay helps develops the child’s large and small muscles – improving dexterity.
    • Fosters eye-hand coordination.
    • Builds a child’s ability to focus/builds attention span.
  • Mathematical Understandings:
    • Fosters beginning pattern making.
    • Builds an experiential understanding of 3-dimensional shapes.
    • Tactical experience of size and weight differences
  • Literacy growth:
    • builds vocabulary – pound, pinch, roll, flatten, poke, tear squeeze, coil, stretch, squash, twist, and bend
    • Creative story telling with clay pieces

And so much more!

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  1. Christine says:

    What type of clay is this? I know you said it air dries, but is it suppose to be fired? Did they tell you if the kids leave the clay there, or take them home? I’m starting a preschool next year and have been so inspired by the Reggio philosophy!

    I just discovered your website, it has so many great ideas! Thank you!

    • Sally says:

      It is red clay. And yes, normally it would be fired but we let it air dry. The children did not take the clay home. Hope that helps!

  2. Shelley says:

    Best boards to use? Wood? Plastic? What would you suggest? Thank you!

  3. Sofia says:

    When giving the clay to children as a open ended material. What other equipment might u add. As I have a 4 day project to do with clay and have no idea what to do?
    Natural preferably.


  1. […] esteem and practicing fine motor skills, there is no end to what working with clay can achieve. Fairy Dust Teaching has some tips for inspired clay play and you’ll also find lots of great ideas on […]

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