Thursday, April 19, 2012

Happy Earth Day! Celebrate with Clay!

This Sunday, we will celebrate our planet and show our concern and appreciation for the earth’s natural environment.  One of the most earth friendly ‘toys’ for children is clay.  When your children pull out their clay to play, why not give them a little education about it.  Clay is actually bits of earth, that over time, is carried from one place to another by water and deposited in areas where the water slows down to a trickle. 

If you have ever gone digging by the water’s edge, only to grab a handful of muck, that muck is clay.  As the bits of earth travel with water, they pick up all kinds of tiny rock and sediment, but by the time we pick up our box of clay from the store, the muck has been cleaned and refined so it is ready to use.

Even though the clay our kids play with is smooth, they will delight in experimenting with different texturesUnderstanding how a textured surface produces an imprint can be an aha moment for a child as they press an object. One experiment fun to try is to use the end of things, like markers, caps and even a cinnamon stick, to press texture into clay.

Go in the garage or show your child your workshop or tool chest and let them press interesting objects into clay.  Even better, go on a nature hunt outside to find different materials. 

A shell, a peach seed, coral and a produce bag

If you are looking for an easy clay project to let your kids experiment with textures, just create simple clay tiles, divide them into four squares and have kids press a group of objects onto the tile. You can make a theme, like seeds, leaves or shells. Or you can let it be more free-form and have them bring whatever they might find in the house, their toy box or the yard together to try.

The right texture can make trees with great looking bark and lots of attitude.

Then, you can talk about what the textures remind them of - the scales of a fish, the bark of a tree or the hair of a shaggy dog. You can use texture to create all kinds of animals … let your kids imaginations soar. Give it a try!  And give thanks to the earth for our clay!

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