My children love to use clay. Mostly we do open-ended clay play, without any prompts or suggestions on what to make. Occasionally though I like to show the children a technique or make larger sculptures, or give them project ideas.
I have lots of different resources for using clay with young children so I decided to make a list of the skills or techniques that we can teach children from around three years with clay, but perhaps from two with play-dough.
Clay play techniques to teach children:
- Straighten (roll out flat)
- Roll a snake
- Roll a ball
- Scratch details with tools
- Add pieces to a sculpture - for example, add an arm or leg to a person
- Snip with scissors
In Clay Play author Spramani Elaun lists techniques in two categories.
Simple Movement to Teach First:
- Rolling Balls
- Back and forth motions - rolling pin
- Cutting & Slicing - wood modelling tool
Simple Forms to Teach Second:
- Rope like coils - Snakes
- Rounded and circular shapes
- Mountain Peak
- Tear Drop
- Flat Pancake
- Cookie Cutter Shapes.
For our clay play, we like to use large tiles as a work surface and a small spray bottle to keep the clay moist.
We use Clay Technique Cards (at Teachers Pay Teachers) to take the children through each skill.
My four-year-old loves to make snakes, snails and curls! 🐌
Pinch. Don't feel like your child is too young to learn this. My four-year-old once made a beautiful pinch pot completely independently at Forest School. I was watching him from a distance anticipating that he would need my help, but he did it all on his own while observing his teachers and other students around him.
Cut - using a child-safe knife or clay tool.
Other clay related posts include: