Multi-Clay Experience for Early Years

This week I gave the children a multi-sensory journey with three different clays – mineral clay, foam clay and silk clay.

Mineral Clay
Mineral clay is a fantastic material for young children to play and experiment with. It’s so malleable, messy and versatile. If you find your clay has dried up just let it soak in some water for a while and it’ll soon soften again. Or if you make it too wet you can simply let it dry out a bit.

My clay had dried a bit so I broke bits off and put them into finger bowls. Water was added and the children enjoyed the slippery sensation of the water on the clay. They found that the clay made their hands messy so we made marks with the wet clay on sugar paper. Some of the children started to draw with the clay whilst others broke bits off and stuck them to the paper.

We used words like cold, slippery, messy and squishy when working with the clay.

Foam Clay
The Foam Clay isn’t really clay but small polystyrene beads in a sort of unsticky syrup. It’s great fun and not messy like mineral clay. The children had a great time pushing their fingers into it, squashing it, rolling it into balls and making cats out of it. We squidged it out flat and stretched it out watching thin fibers form between the beads. We gave the Foam Clay a big sniff and all agreed that it smelt very nice.

Silk Clay
Again not really a clay but a fabulous modeling material that can be stretched really far. We spent ages seeing how far we could stretch it and one little girl got half way across the room. We tried swinging the ‘ropes’ we made and watched them get longer the more swinging we did. To get the Silk Clay to stretch a long way you have to pull it quite slowly. If you pull it fast, we discovered, it simply snapps.

The Silk Clay is also incredibly smooth and soft to work with. I think the mums got as much fun out of this one as the children did. One mum, who’s a materials engineer, was fascinated by it.

After snack time I put out some mosaic tiles and buttons. The children had great fun pushing these into the different clays. We discovered that the shape from the mosaic tiles stayed in the clay after they were removed creating a pattern in the surface.

The Foam and Silk Clays come in 10 fab colours but they soon got mixed up and the children were playing with multi-coloured balls. I did try to make sure that the different clays didn’t get mixed up by having them on different tables.

All in all it was a very successful tactile experience for the children and we all went home happy.

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