I think many times when it comes to material introduction, we jump to the “create and make stage” yet forget the explore stage. Yes! The magic and wonder of the explore stage is crucial!
The language of clay! It’s different from playdough. Clay comes from the earth. The cold, messy, earthy aroma activates all the senses.You can manipulate it by adding water and return to a creation day after day by having the child cover their piece with a wet paper towel.
What are you making? That seems to be a consistent first question we always ask. But, what if we kept the wonder alive in our children and think about the relationship with clay or any other material?
Exploration Questions Starters
What do you notice about the clay?
I wonder how it feels?
How can you get it off the big block?
I wonder how we can stick the pieces together?
What happens when you add water?
Tell me about how it smells…feels…sounds…even tastes!
Explore Stages of Clay
1. Finger and Hand Play
Pinching, ball rolling, squeezing pieces are a few things this child manipulated clay with.
Rolling pins, cans, wooden dowels, and cardboard tubes are a few examples to use for rolling.
An avenue to use force!. Fabulous way to let the need be met.
Fine motor skills being executed here. Way to build those muscles for writing.
5. Addition of Loose Parts
A simple jam jar lid can provide a vast extension to the explore stage in clay
The simple task of piling turns into building tall and problem solving to make it stay.
Benefits of Exploring Clay
- Gives children the sensory experiences they so desperately need
- Develops their fine motor skills
- Opportunities for Storytelling
- Builds child’s ability to focus
- Ignites the children’s curious and creative nature
- Allows for a natural progression in their developmental stages with materials
And so much more!
Let’s foster the explore stage with materials in our classrooms! Let them linger and wonder a bit longer. Stay tuned for the explore stages with paint and glue in upcoming blog posts!
Comment below how you use clay in your room! We would love to see photos!