The educational value of Creall clay
Clay can be used for a wide variety of creative purposes. The Creall® clay products offer an even more essential core value, however, as they stimulate the development of children in a unique way. The improvement of the sensory-motor skills is not the only developmental area that Creall® clay can have a stimulating effect on; it also spurs social-emotional and creative development. Creall® clay offers an enormous educational value to those who know how to implement it in their classroom. The way in which the brain proves to be connected to the hands is extraordinarily direct and powerful. The development of eye-hand coordination is clearly linked to the degree to which the brain is developed, and working with clay can play a balancing and stimulating role in this connection. Add the effect of colour and you’ll start to understand that there is an enormous potential in the material that we so easily call ‘clay’. Approximately between the sixth and the eighth year of life, an important period in the development of the brain takes place. The two hemispheres in the brain start to collaborate and specialize in order for the hands to be able to move separately.
It is of utmost importance to create a balance between the physical system and the subjective experience in the head of the child during this period. The emotional aspects also play a role in this precarious balance. Working with clay uniquely contributes to the search for a balance between the head, heart, and hands. It does so not only for the more average children but also for those children who need more attention in whatever way. According to recent studies, children are significantly calmer and able to take up information more efficiently when they have some kind of modelling material in their hands. We do not pretend that modelling materials and their application in creative arts and crafts afternoons are somehow new, but clay can be used in a variety of other ways in your classroom. For language and mathematics lessons, for example; such as when you are dealing with letters and numbers, sorting and seriating, perceiving colours and shapes, and spatial orientation. These are some examples of areas in which clay can prove to be an essential stimulation of the learning process.
Age 3, 4, and 5
Concerning young children, the degree of brain maturation is decisive for the way in which we choose to implement clay in our classrooms. Symmetry and movements are of paramount importance for this young group. Rolling clay is a typical gross motor skill that stimulates the symmetrical development stage. The child will only be able to use his or her hands separately after the symmetrical development stage. Sensory development is furthermore important in the toddler phase to correctly perceive the environment. In addition, the young child is especially sensitive when it comes to the perception of colours. The making of towers also stimulates spatial orientation, for example, as the most important thing is to ‘experience’ the material and its possibilities.
We are two friends
Hold a conversation about things that belong together. Then every child uses clay to make two things that belong together, such as a cup and saucer, apple and pear, sun and moon, fork and knife, pan and lid, et cetera. The children place the objects on the table when everybody is done with the clay. Then the children look for a combination of objects that they haven’t made themselves.
Long and short
Work in groups of up to six children. Every child receives his or her own colour of clay. Ask the children to use their own clay to make a long snake with their flat hands. When a child is ready, he or she can divide the snake into a long and short snake.
The children then sit in a circle and decide which snake is the longest and which is the shortest. They also name the colours and practice with them.
Age 6, 7, 8, 9
This is a period in which clay supports children in a multitude of ways. Children mainly use clay in order to learn to connect different skills with each other. Motor skills are still stimulated, but a child’s preference for colour also shows a lot about their emotions. The use of clay as a teaching material turns out to be especially efficient during this period. Working with certain colours and shapes, for instance, and making letters and numbers contributes not only to creative development but also supports the learning process more generally.
Sit in a circle with the children and discuss where they encounter shapes in their day-to-day lifes. Then start working with the clay. Every child chooses three colours and makes four sets of four shapes in different colours. Afterwards, the children form groups and make a “painting” by combining the different shapes.
Ask the children to model themselves from clay. Look into the mirror and try to translate that into a clay figurine. Look closely; where are your nose and ears, and how long are your legs? A follow-up lesson can be organized to paint the figurines. The figurines can then be placed in the middle of the circle. Who can tell whomever is depicted by a certain figurine?
Age 10, 11, 12
The somewhat older children can use clay to tell a story. It helps them to showcase their skills and can aid in the development of their spatial insight. Motor skills are still stimulated, and fine motor skills become increasingly important. Clay can take on a multitude of roles in this phase. A number of examples are specific assignments that complement the standard curriculum, creative stimulation, the making explicit of social-emotional aspects, and the awareness of the body and its proportions.
Write a story and use it as a source of inspiration for a clay model. A photo of the clay model can then serve as a cover for the story. Make sure that the photo tempts the viewer to read the story that it was inspired by.
Create a stack of cards that you have written objects on, such as a flower, spoon, tree, train, car, or dog. The children then work in pairs. They take a card from the stack and use clay to model the object that is written on it. Then the group tries to find out what the clay model represents by asking question to the pair of children who made it. A new card may be drawn when the group has found out what the model represents.