Kindergartners enjoy the tactile stimulation and challenge of manipulating a blob of clay into an interesting creation. You can present clay craft projects that help kindergartners learn to follow directions, identify geometric shapes, solve problems and master cognitive concepts that lay the foundation for reading and math. Playing with clay also taps artistic talents and supports the development of fine motor skills. Before entering first grade, students should grasp contrasting sizes, top and bottom, patterns and spatial relationships, which are fundamental ideas introduced by clay craft activities. However, you should determine whether any of your students have allergies to certain types of clay, such as water-based clay, before proceeding.
Provide kindergartners with a big ball of green clay to make into a caterpillar. Kindergartners are fascinated by caterpillars and their magical transformation into beautiful butterflies. Instruct children to form 10 smaller balls out of the clay you provided. Demonstrate how to gently push the balls together in a straight line to form the body of the caterpillar. If needed, pieces of thick, broken spaghetti can be used to connect each ball to the ball in front and behind. Add two short pipe cleaners for antennae. Paint eyes on the caterpillar after it dries. Consider combining the activity with a children’s book about caterpillars, such as “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle.
Clowns and Ice Cream Cones
Kindergarten students are capable of identifying shapes and combining them to form new objects. Provide two different colors of clay. Instruct students to select one color of clay and make a cone shape with a flat bottom. Next, tell students to make a ball using the other color of clay. The ball should be a little bigger than the widest part of the cone. Demonstrate how to carefully squish the cone and the ball together so they resemble an ice cream cone. Allow the new shape to dry. Pass out paint and glitter with instructions to decorate the cone. Alternatively, kindergartners can make a clown by painting a face on the ball and turning the cone into a funny hat.
Kindergartners can use clay to make gifts for grandma, Sunday school teachers or other special caregivers. Show kindergartners how to use a non-stick rolling pin to roll out a thin layer of clay on waxed paper. Distribute assorted shapes of cookie cutters, such as stars, snowflakes and hearts. Let them practice using cookie cutters to make shapes. Select a few of their best attempts and make a hole with a straw near the top of the shape. After drying, insert a ribbon through the hole for hanging as ornaments or to wear as a necklace. Children may also wish to paint and decorate their shapes.
Joan Koste, author of “Growing Artists: Teaching the Arts to Young Children” reports that clay is an excellent medium for encouraging children to express themselves artistically. For example, kindergartners can create a unique sculpture using clay. First, instruct children to make a sturdy clay base. Next, suggest that children add interest to the base by making impressions in the clay with burlap, bottle caps, plastic forks or potato mashers, for example. Finally, tell kindergartners to insert natural objects, such as cattails, shells, twigs, pine cones and acorns, into the base. Don’t disturb the masterpiece while drying.
- Growing Artists: Teaching the Arts to Young Children; Joan Koste
- Artists Helping Children: Clay and Dough Crafts for Kids
- University of Virginia Curry School of Education: The Very Hungry Caterpillar
- PBS Parents: Child Development Tracker: Your 5 Year Old
- Creative Learning Activities for Young Children; Judy Herr
- Common Core State Standards Initiative: Kindergarten
- Photo Credit Nadezhda1906/iStock/Getty Images
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