Using Clay in the Early Years
Clay is a wonderful material to use with any age…it is calming, grounding and possibilities for the imagination endless. I use clay with very young children and babies, often on a large scale, combining it with other unexpected resources, drainpipes, twigs, pipe cleaners, toy cars…….
Clay is often used as an introductory activity with a new group of children. Having a large pile of clay is inviting and can focus childrens’ attention in one place whilst at the same time being able to free their imaginations without any boundaries.
With this approach I am able to facilitate the creative process, listen and observe. I am able to learn a great deal about individual children, their imagination, their communication skills and language development.
Supporting Language Development
What I really love about clay is that it is inclusive to everyone. Working in this way doesn’t rely on spoken word and that means all children of all abilities and experiences can be involved and at the same time working in clay in such a flexible way Encourages verbal language development through the sharing of experiences, ideas and stories.
The children bring themselves and their life experiences to the creative process enabling myself and the staff to respond by collaborating and developing further creative processes that reflect the children’s interest and stages of development.
Early Years Curriculum
Whilst the children are exploring the clay, I document, record and photographs the children’s creative process, capturing their ideas, language and levels of engagement which can then be used as evidence of meeting learning goals. Using the documentation process as adults we can pay close attention to the children, developing further child led activities which reflect their interests and needs whilst meeting the requirements of the curriculum.
This process means that often we don’t have a finished product; the product is in the recorded evidence of the children’s high levels of engagement, imagination, and language use.
Clay can meet more of the curriculum than creative development. I have worked with children to discover the science of clay, watched the sun dry the clay and the rain disintegrate it. We have learned about changes over time and the science of liquid solid, scale and shape
And above all of that, it’s a material the children can manipulate offering them an enabling resource for indoor and outdoor work.
The joy of clay is that it can be made, changed, squashed, and made again. With minimum of care, clay keeps forever to be used over and over again making it a very cost effective resource that has endless capacity for imaginative worlds.