During the process of introducing modeling clay to the children, the experience has been very open-ended and leaning into creativity and sensory experience that it offers. The clay that is offered is bright and colorful with a doughy, smooth texture. Manipulating the clay by squishing, squeezing, pulling, and rolling helps the children to develop fine motor skills and strengthen their hands. It shows them that there is a process of transformation and helps them to see the power their bodies can inflict on their world. It improves dexterity, hand-eye coordination, and focus.
Clay for our classroom has been a therapeutic experience. The intentionality of offering it at calmer times throughout the day allows for relaxing investigations. By repeating this play, children can establish self-esteem, confidence, and naturally create objects with clay. Returning to experiences enables children to build the capacity to stay present with the clay and learn how to use tools – plastic and wood knives, rollers, and small wooden hammers – these are some of the tools that have been offered to the children as we start to dig deeper into our explorations of clay.