Clay time is loads of fun for imaginative pre-schoolers. Just squishing the clay through their fingers is thrilling enough, but when they discover they can shape it to make actual two and three dimensional things, the excitement surges and all they want to do is create.
There are so many fun things pre-school students can do with clay, whether just for fun or as an extension of a class lesson plan. The simplest items for a pre-schooler to make in clay are the ones that require the least amount of manipulation.
Little hands that might have trouble creating miniature sculpture can easily roll, pinch, and clay into a variety of simple shapes that can be used as is or combined to create more complex items. The use of clay tools such as rollers and cutters can help facilitate the clay manipulation.
One of the easiest ways for the pre-school student to manipulate clay into a shape is to take a wad and roll it over a flat surface (cover the surface first) to form a log or snake. This shape can be decorated with other bits of clay or used to create something else, such as a simple coiled clay pot.
An even easier clay project for pre-school hands than the coiled pot is the pinch pot. All students need to do is roll the clay into a ball and press it into shape by pushing a thumb into the center. The end result will depend on how much clay is used and how much wider the student can make the opening. The child could even make a lid for his or her pot, and if using air-dry clay, have a permanent keepsake.
The most basic shape a pre-school student can easily make in clay is a ball. Three balls in graduated sizes can be stacked to make a snowman (blunt toothpicks or a drinking straw can be inserted in the clay to help hold the balls together if necessary).
Beyond balls and “snakes” plastic cookie cutters can help pre-school students create everything from unique, one-of-a-kind ornaments to embellishments to use in decorating other clay creations. As little fingers achieve more dexterity and figure out how much pressure to use so as not to distort their clay projects in progress, the basic ball and log/snake shapes can be combined to create 3D forms such as animals.
Working with clay is not only fun for pre-schoolers, it is an opportunity for teachers and parents to introduce a whole world of concepts as well as new vocabulary.