Wednesday, May 5, 2010

natural play with clay

Clay is a rich natural play experience for young children.  It's soft and responsive sensory qualities are irresistible to most preschoolers:  they poke it, squeeze it, hit it, pinch it and pound it.

Clay experiences don't need many bells and whistles.  Just clay and stretches of uninterrupted time to experiement with it.  When kids first start to play with clay they are  discovering "what does clay do?" before they move onto "what can I do with clay?"

Here we set up a simple clay experience - 
balls of clay and a basket of sticks we collected from outside:

If you or any of your parents have some old tiles lying around from renovation projects,
they make perfect base boards for clay play.

Going on a nature hunt to collect materials to use with clay can enhance the play experience.

These little fellows aren't interested in making an end product.
Like any art experience with preschoolers, it is the process that is important.
They are learning "what happens if I...?"

Natural materials are perfect to use to texture clay, or to create sculptural forms.

With lots of time to explore and experiment with clay in all its forms, look at what kids can create using natural materials:

This post is a part of Backyard Mama's Children and Nature Blog Carnival.


  1. We just received 25 lbs. of clay and I have a bundle of sticks from a hydrangea I pruned last fall. I can't wait to turn them loose!

  2. I've been wanting to do some play with clay - so I guess here's my inspiration.

  3. And for parents a little scared of the mess factor, I have always found the white clay used for porcelain a little kinder to clean up :)

  4. I love that white clay too Christie - and there are also some kids who are not big fans of touching clay at first - the white clay can be more appealing to them. (reminds me we should get some for preschool!)

  5. That looks wonderful! I think we'll have to stick with playdough and mud up here, but I hadn't thought of using natural materials with the playdough.

  6. Oooooh I love it. Play dough is great for sure but clay is totally irresistible stuff!

    Donna :) :)