"What is it?" is a natural first question in any new material experience and has been considered the "first stage" in working with clay. What are the properties of clay? How can we touch it, smell it, listen to it, and even taste it? And yes, we did have a few taste testers today.
We intentionally placed the two large blocks of clay on the table without tools and without small, portioned pieces for each child. We wanted to observe how they handled the material in it's "raw" state. What would they notice? How would they explore it?
"It's dirt." - Maxon "It's flat." - Giacomo "It's slime." - Janie "Maybe, it's chocolate." - Jack "It's not stretchy." - C.C.
"Okay, so what can I do with it?" is typically the next step in working with, and molding, clay. The children began to put the clay to a series of tests, which included pinching, pulling, squeezing, smushing it together, rolling it with the palm of their hands, stacking it, lining it up, etc. Jack and C.C. each discovered that a piece of string (from the clay cloths) would shape and cut the clay, while other children experimented with moving the large block of clay (and yes, it is heavy).
"I just need a little bit. I'm piling it." - Lochie "I'm just doing it with my fingers like that." - C.C.
Many of the children also began to label their work and give their structures names and stories. While their structures may not resemble these things as we (adults) may recognize them (e.g. castle), the children were clearly filled with joy and excitement as they manipulated the clay and shared their ideas. We hope to validate those ideas and thoughts as they explore and create, and we are already looking forward to more clay exploration tomorrow.
"It's a digger." - Cedar "A mighty mountain made of snow. No, a volcano!" - Jack "I made a castle." - Janie
Each child entered into this experience in a different way, and all of their comments, observations, and creations were equally diverse. We would love to hear any feedback that they may have given you about the experience. Please feel free to share this with us (via email, a note, etc.).