Early Years Construction

I love presenting the children with the opportunity to do 3D work. That, and the fact that I’ve collected a mountain of bottle tops for collage, was how the idea for today‚Äôs activity was born.

Bottle tops
Craft sticks
Match sticks
Silk clay
Foam clay
Squares of card

Method and Making
All the materials were laid out on the table with a square of card and a pot of silk clay at each place setting.

It was very quiet to start with so I made a demonstration model. Then Joe and his mum came over to investigate what I was doing. Joe never comes to the art table but today he really enjoyed playing and experimenting with the silk dough. It is fantastic stuff.


When pulled gently you can make long ribbons of clay. These can be draped over, wound round or arranged on the piece you are making. However if you pull at it fast it snaps leaving a clean edge. It’s as soft as dough to work with but will set hard if left out to dry. Keep it in its pot and it can be used over and over. And when it starts to dry out simply add a bit of water to make it pliable again. We are all big fans of the silk clay at toddler group – I can’t recommend it highly enough.


The foam clay is good as well, but not as versatile as the silk clay. However it does give the children a different sensory experience and it’s good for making little animals or covering polystyrene shapes when flattened out.

May, James and their mums came to investigate what we were doing. James just wanted to take the lids on and off the pots of clay. May, however, got stuck in as usual and enjoyed organising the bottle tops and shaping the clay to make a mini sculpture park.

Harry made a funny creature with the foam clay and matchsticks. He also had a great time making a pendulum with the silk clay by stretching it out with a ball of clay at the bottom. He had a great time swinging it between his Gran’s legs and giggling.

More and more children had a go so by the end of the session most of my regulars had experimented and played with the materials.

Learning Outcomes:
Manipulation of materials
Finding ways to stick items together (not always successful but this is also a valuable lesson)
Developing confidence in experimenting and decision making.


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