A round ball of Earth - Clay work in the Early Learning Environment
Once upon a time there was a tiny round ball made from Earth. The ball grew and grew until it could fit into the palm of our hands.
That is how we start our clay session - with a story. The children assemble the ball by gathering clay and rolling it between their hands. The kids make small and big balls, long and short sausages with clay, they cut the clay with their fingers and print into it with shells, stone sand leaves.
This is a sensory experience that involves feeling the material.
Beading is a regular activity in our extra mural workshops. Children of all ages love it and it is an activity that can be graded and adapted to any age.
Beading promotes many different skills.
The various sizes of beads promote different grasps and encourage dexterity by picking, holding and tracing the beads onto a string. Strength and coordination in the small hand and finger muscles are promoted and the collaboration between the eyes and hands are developed which means eye hand coordination is enhanced.
The eyes have to scan the beads, find the desired one, discriminate colours, size and remember a sequence or beading pattern. Here visual perceptions as well as cognitive skills are at play.
Puzzle building is a wonderful tool to develop all the perceptual skills of visual closure, figure ground and visual discrimination which are all needed for reading and writing.
When we prepare activities for the children we work with, all these different aspects come into our minds.
There is a long list of skills that can be acquired by beading, making puzzles, board or movement games and other creative tasks. When we meet and sit together as a group all those wonderful skills are present but what stands out the most, when i am observing the buzz and excitement of the group, is the fact how much those activities bring us all together, help us to get to know each other, encourage us to talk to each other and slowly we become friends and a spirit of community is developing. The most valuable skill that a child can learn from any activity is social interaction. The value of human interaction, kindness, empathy, understanding one another and engaging in a positive, constructive way is the key to building up a strong foundation in education as well as in community.
Empathy is the starting point for creating a community and taking action. It is the impetus for creating change.
“It is squishy, its cold, it is soft or hard, rough,it is dry and when we add water it gets wet and smooth.” It changes in the process and can reflect how we feel, how much pressure we put into it or how soft we press it.
The children realize that their action has an effect on the clay, they can mould and fold it and it becomes a piece of material in which they can express themselves.
REFLECTIONS. BEAUTIFUL. UNIQUE
Clay work lends itself to enhancing Motor skills, self expression, creativity and confidence as the clay creations grow with practice and skills. We offer clay regular in our early learning program and with its substance it always brings so much solid holding and space to explore in a safe place to the children’s hands and minds. It has an overall calming effect especially for children who are hyperactive or anxious. Overall it is messy and wonderful and encourages to PLAY.