Article Type Making Art Together Making Art Together Categories Infants and Toddlers Sculpture

Playing with Clay

Meghan Burch

Its been a beautiful Spring-y week here in MA, and though we haven’t had enough snow to make for soggy ground, I’m reminded that the rain and mud season is approaching. I am, therefore, reminded that week 3 (way back in January) of my Friday series for toddlers, Materials Play in the Morning, was all about clay.

A tray filled with a variety of clay shaping tools including a roller, sponges, corks, shells, and forks.
Knowing that most toddlers don’t have the hand strength/coordination to roll snakes or coils I didn’t try to teach any building techniques. I did display a variety of tools for making impressions in the clay.
Toddler hands manipulating grey clay on a tray next to a cup of water and several rolling pins.
Each guest who came got a tray to work on, a couple of golf ball-sized lumps of gray air or kiln fire clay, a small dish of water, and the invitation to just get a feel for the clay.
A line of rolling pins with various textures lined up on a blue tray.

The traditional clay rolling pins didn’t see any action. Most were interested in the tray of odds and ends.

I had a few parent/child pairs stay for only a little while. I don’t think the children liked the sensation of the clay on their skin. One parent/child pair worked quite a while, with the little one particularly engaged in putting a plastic fork into the clay. They also added more and more water to clay until it was a creamy slip on their hands. The mom had the idea to print their hands so I gave them a black piece of paper so they could press them onto a color that would contrast the light gray of the clay. I’m sorry I missed getting a picture of that.

Storytime in the Reading Library included a few related books: Clay Boy, Sheep in a Jeep, Hand Book, and Dirt on My Shirt.

I hope this inspires some fun and messy digging around at your place!


Meghan, smiling and wearing a grey shirt with a blue background.

Meghan Burch

Art Educator from 2003-2016, Meghan has a BFA in Illustration from Massachusetts College of Art and Design. She tries to think with materials and work with her hands every day.
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