By Jenna S.
The day is Thursday March 2nd 2017, its a quiet afternoon, children ages 3-4 are playing quietly in the classroom at several stations in the room. The art table is empty at the moment so I begin to set up the clay experience, I used one large bucket for water and placed it on the table to the side. I set up three placemats on the same side of the table and set out lots of paper towel beside each place setting. I gather my documentation materials and invite the children over to play. Children ran up immediately and I choose the three whom arrived to my table first. I instruct the children to locate and put on a smock and take a seat at the table in front of a place setting. Once the children are sitting I gain their attention and begin to instruct them on the activity. I start by naming the media, I tell the children where clay comes from and how we can use it to create forms and 3D shapes. I further explain the use of the water and how we manipulate the clay by wetting our hands or other tools we may be using. The children had a few questions regarding where the clay came from, it was quit a surprise to them. One boy asked “Do mud and clay live together?” I thought that was an excellent question and replied by explaining that the ground has many layers of dirt and mud, underneath it all is clay, but its very deep into the ground and comes in many colours. Including the children in as much as the process as possible is a great way to initiate a child’s sense of belonging and engagement.
I invite the children to begin to feel the clay with their hands, wetting the clay or keeping it dryer. I ask the children how It feels in their fingers, can they smoosh it between them and how does it feel? As I’m speaking the children look at their clay and begin to explore it, some smoosh it between their fingers and some children splatter water all over their lump of clay. One child picks up his lump of clay and plops it back down on his mat, splashing clay water on himself; I remind the children to wet their hands and manipulate the clay. One boy places both hands in the water bucket, now clay water, and exclaims “Where did my hands go?” I ask him why he thinks the water turned that colour. He replied “Because our hands are muddy!” One boy has wet his clay so much it is turning into water on his place mat. The children did not seem discouraged
The children continue to shape and mold the clay, wetting their hands without prompt on occasion, each child’s placemat is covered in mushy clay and water. One child picks up her clay lump and splashes it in the bucket, laughing as she did so. The group gets excited as the girl dunks her hands in the water bin to search for her submerged clay, exclaiming “I cant find it! I cant find it!” in a fit of giggles. The other two children reached there hands In the bucket to help the child fin her clay. She pulled her clay out of the bucket, one boy joyfully said “You found it, I thought it was lost forever!” I thought this was really cute seeing as its a small bin filled with water, I’m glad I could provide the children with an opportunity to express their imaginations and experience something new and exciting. We continued experimenting with the clay, one child had smoothed his clay into a flat surface using his wet hands and sliding them over the clay applying pressure to flatten it down. The child then started to use his fingers in a racking motion against the clays surface “I’m scratching it!” he showed his classmates at the table what he had done to his clay. One other child had used his finger to repeatedly poke holes across the surface of his clay lump. The group continued with their clay exploration until it was time for afternoon outdoor break and we soon began to clean up our clay experience together. I asked the children to use their paper towels to clean up any spilled water on the table and place their clay creations on the drying rack to set for a few days.
I wouldn’t really do anything differently with this experiment, allowing more opportunity to explore the clay with different tools to scaffold the learning and adding paint to our dry creations would be another fun way to extend this learning opportunity.
We hope you enjoyed experimenting with clay with us!!