"Clay is so much fun!" - Zoe and Win
During the Brown Room year, the children are introduced to many materials and techniques. Often, they are exploring these materials for the first time (e.g. clay instead of play doh). When we plan experiences, we are thinking about a lot of variables - some we can plan for and others that we cannot. In Brown Room, we also know that some children's first day with a material will be other children's 2nd or 3rd (due to the staggered scheduling). All of these things impact how we might set up an experience/provocation and document it.
For Wednesday, September 28th, we knew that it would be all 9 children's first experience with clay (in Brown Room -- understanding that some may have worked with it during summer camp). We decided to set up the tables with two 25lb blocks of red clay. We did not provide any clay tools, but invited the children to work with their hands (and bodies).
These are some, but not all, of the questions we considered as we prepared for the day.
You may notice that in our preparation, we considered whether the children would take the whole block of clay, make smaller pieces, and then create larger (stacked) structures. Or, we considered that they may pinch/pull smaller pieces and arrange them on the table. On Wednesday (28th), we primarily observed whole >> small >> whole/stacked work.
The blocks at the end of the day:
Day 2: A slightly different approach
For day two, we set up the two large blocks, or what was left of them, and three smaller (wedged) blocks -- Pierce helped wedge them the day before ("I'm wedging it up.").
As the children entered the studio, they all gravitated towards one size block or the other, and most of them stayed near that same block for the time that we were in the studio (30-40 minutes).
The big blocks
At the large blocks, we observed a lot of pinching, pulling, and patting. The children pulled small pieces off and began to flatten it with their fists. This technique quickly spread among the children working with the large blocks of clay. This group also danced and laughed (a lot) while working side by side and together to create large piles of clay pieces torn from the big blocks.
Adaline, Cully, and Henri
Once the blocks of clay were lighter in weight, George discovered that he could lift it. Pierce encouraged George as he brought the piece over to add to their tower of clay.
"Three clays!" - George, 3.2 years
The children at the three smaller blocks had a quieter approach to the clay. It was also their first day with clay (Eliza, Gracie, and Will are not at school on Wednesdays).
Will, Gracie, and Eliza each made smaller pieces of clay from the wedged block. They flattened them with their fist, but also bent, stacked, and shaped the pieces. Then, we noticed that they were playing "peek-a-boo" with us! On this second day, the joyful energy in the studio was contagious!
"I made a hole." - Pierce, 3.0 years
Poking holes in the clay was also a popular approach to exploring the clay. Both Pierce and Will used their fingers to poke designs in the clay.
The Outdoor Studio and Kiln
On Friday, we took the clay to the outdoor classroom. We also introduced the children to the Clay Guardian and the kiln.
"Clay!" - George, 3.2 years