I’ve always wanted to try a simple clay activity with my preschoolers! So I ordered some clay and gave this simple clay activity a go! The art activity was perfect for our morning chatting and creating together. – a blissful way to slow down and bond with my quickly growing boys. Here is how to introduce clay to kids.
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What can kids make with clay?
The answer is endless; anything goes! We got started by thinking about what we’d like to create.
The first step is to make a simple sketch on our paper bags.
It didn’t take long to take a quick look around our playroom to make the decision.
- My toddler touched and kneaded the clay without much design focus.
- Our almost five-year-old begin creating a cat.
- My six-year-old made toy balls.
- I made a milk bowl for the cat my middle child was making.
RELATED: Art is influential for child development. Don’t miss our entire list of art activities.
How do you make easy clay animals?
For my almost five-year-old, the trick was finding a plastic cat figure in his animal bin. He placed the toy cat in front of him for his sketch.
My preschooler made a sphere for the head, a large clump for the body, and added four stumpy legs.
The clay animal was easy to make and to his liking once finished. I think he surprised us all with how great the clay animal turned out!
What do we do with clay?
Clay has many benefits for young children and may also be an overlooked art supply for kids. The truth is, it has lots of benefits, just like many of the preschool activities we have here at Days with Grey.
Clay is a great way to:
- Create a conversation
- Explore texture
- Inspire creativity
- Navigate Emotions
- Relax the mind
- Strengthen fine motor muscles in the hand
To learn even more about the importance of art for kids, I linked to this educational article about the importance of art.
Are clay and playdough the same?
No, clay and playdough are not the same. The most significant difference is that after 2-3 days, the clay hardens to become a keepsake.
Playdough must be stored in an airtight container to keep it from going bad.
Both playdough and clay are excellent resources for increasing the strength and endurance of small hand muscles. Practice will ultimately lead to a more confident pencil grip.
Once my preschoolers finished molding the clay, we placed it in a paper bag to air dry. After a few days, the clay was hard, and we could paint what we had created!
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This air dry clay comes in terra cotta or white. It does not need to be baked and will dry overnight. Clay can also be painted.
Paintbrushes for Kids
Every set of paint needs paintbrushes. This set will last a few years as you paint with watercolors or tempera paint.
Crayola Washable Paint
When we first began painting, we used this set. It makes a terrific starter set for those ready to paint but not quite all in.
How to introduce clay to kids
Remember, introducing clay to kids is a sensory experience. We want children to take the lead in touching the clay and feeling how the clay changes shape. Invite your child to work with clay on a not rushed day.
- Line the table with brown paper bags to protect the top.
- Divide the clay among each child.
- Put the rest back in the container for future use.
- Invite your child to sketch something they would like to make.
- Invite your child to touch, move, and design what they have in their head.
- Allow the clay to air dry for 2-3 days.
- Paint the pottery!
PRO TIP: Art can be so calming. If you have the time, sit next to your child and create something yourself!
Who has time to search for ideas?
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This answer varies based on what age you are comfortable painting with kids. If you are ready but have questions, check out this post explaining how to paint with kids.
Teaching hands-on is following a child’s interest and learning style. It allows children to use their hands and mind to make connections through investigation and problem-solving. A child that loves to move will incorporate more gross motor activities. If your child works on pencil grip, slow down and review the fine motor activity list.
The best art ideas for kids can be mess free! This list of art activities for kids has 50+ ideas for easy art ideas, painting, and recyclable art ideas.