Thursday, July 21, 2011

Fantasy Play With Clay

This article about Fantasy Play from Amanda Morgan at Not Just Cute started me thinking about all the fantasy creations made by kids in my clay classes. I know some parents are concerned about kids exploring mystical ideas by making witches, wizards and other magical creatures. I have found, though, that most recognize the importance of letting their children explore the fantasy world and create from their imagination.
One clay project that appeals to kids is making wizards. I’ve been making wizards for years, originally inspired by The Hobbit. These days, Harry Potter is the lead wizard that keeps kids hungry for a little magic in their clay creations. In both cases, creating a wizard out of clay allows kids to take the image of a wizard from their mind's eye to reality. For many, creating with clay can be easier than drawing and allows them to add depth to their piece they may not be able to draw.
One element of the wizard project that kids and parents like is the chance to create “their” wizard. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve seen all the Harry Potter movies, in addition to reading the books. I’ll also be the first to say that what I imagine when I read the books isn’t always in synch with what the movie maker puts on the big screen. For that reason, it’s important that we have opportunities to explore our interpretation of the story and ideas by creating it what we individually imagine.
I also believe it’s important for children to translate their imagined wizards and characters into reality. I have found kids are very attuned to the details they have read or interpreted and they like to include those in their pieces. In addition, when they work on wizards in a group, they can see how their friends interpret and imagine the unseen as well. Discovering the different ways people interpret and actualize ideas and stories is an important skill for kids. Letting them explore those possibilities with clay is a great way to encourage their discovery.

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