Clay modeling has many educational benefits for kids. Read on to know how clay-modeling activities improve your child's hand-eye coordination, motor skills, dexterity, creativity, and attention span
"The important thing is to create" - Pablo Picasso
Clay is a substance that can be molded into an endless number of forms. Humans have been making objects out of clay for ages - pots, plates, bowls, sculptures and so on.
Put clay or play dough into the hands of kids and see how it stimulates their imagination and creativity. Watch as they enjoy the texture and doughy consistency of the clay and try to mold it into interesting shapes.
Clay modeling is an activity that is therapeutically beneficial to kids in many ways. One important benefit of clay modeling is the role it plays in early childhood education. Read on to learn how you can use clay craft to enhance your child's learning and creativity.
Hand-eye coordination is a neurological process where the visual input provided by the eye is used to guide the hands in performing a task. For example, catching a ball, writing, pouring water into a glass, etc., all need hand-eye coordination. Moreover, having good hand-eye coordination can improve your child's agility, athleticism and handwriting. Using clay during playtime will also help her engage the muscles in her hands and arms.
Everyone makes mistakes, especially in the process of learning something new. Sometimes, these mistakes can be discouraging, especially if they are hard to erase. But, when it comes to working with a lump of clay, your child can easily correct the mistakes. It's easier for your child to learn and keep trying new things when he knows that clay modeling mistakes don't have to be permanent.
Since your child will be more comfortable in making mistakes while using clay, he is likely to learn better. A research paper, 'Unsuccessful retrieval attempts enhance subsequent learning', by Nate Kornell, Matthew Hays and Robert Bjork published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition (2009) studied this theory. The authors found that people tend to learn better when they make mistakes compared to when they don't.
These skills involve the development of the muscles in the hands and fingers. While similar to hand-eye coordination skills, fine motor skills differ as they do not necessarily require the involvement of our eyes. For example, typing can be a fine motor skill, without being a hand-eye coordination skill when practiced by a skilled typist.
A paper titled, 'Fine Motor Skills and Early Comprehension of the World: Two New School Readiness Indicators', by Claire E Cameron et al, published in Developmental Psychology (2010) found that 'having good fine motor skills in pre-school is a strong predictor of a child's later academic achievement in reading and math'. So, learning how to accurately use her fingers to get just the right shape out of clay can help your child improve her fine motor skills and be better at academics.
Being creative is an attribute that is highly valued today. Using clay can allow your child to apply creativity in molding different clay objects as per his desire. And, since one advantage of clay is its versatility, your child can explore making many different objects through clay modeling with even a small amount of clay.
Play-based learning centers around guided play. In such play, children are still in charge and spontaneous, as they would be in free play. However, parents/educators also actively participate by curating the environment in such a way that the child can learn the intended lesson. This type of learning also comes under the umbrella of activity-based learning.
A study published in Educational and Child Psychology (2009), titled, 'Play, cognition and self-regulation: What exactly are children learning when they learn through play?' by David Whitebread, Penny Coltman, Helen Jameson and Rachel Lander talks about the importance of play-based learning. The authors state, 'The experience of the 'play' condition was particularly effective in preparing the children for effortful, problem-solving or creative tasks which require a high level of metacognitive and self-regulatory skill.'
This means that including play in learning would allow your child to acquire better academic skills. Clay can also be used as a tool for teaching different subjects to your child. For example, she can mold numbers and the letters of the alphabet out of clay to get better at numeracy and literacy. She could even learn about science by testing the various attributes of clay and by experimenting and observing how clay reacts to heat, cold, water, etc.
1. Happy Birthday cake:
This is an interesting clay craft activity for tiny tots. Materials needed are mainly yellow, green and white-colored clay. Here is how to do it:
Ask your child to make his own Birthday cake using the above steps.
2. Rain cloud and sun
This is another interesting clay modeling activity for young kids. For this project, your child will need mainly yellow and blue-colored clay. Here is how to make it:
Ask your child to try making her own sun and clouds using the above method.
Here is another interesting clay modeling activity for your child. For this project, he will need mainly orange and green-colored clay. Here is how it's done.
Your child will love these clay-modeling activities.
As mentioned earlier, there are numerous educational benefits of playing with clay for your child. Using clay can help him explore ideas creatively, improve physical dexterity and fine motor coordination, and problem-solving skills. So, even if his school does not use clay in classroom learning, you could get your child to use it at home. After all, it's fun to play with clay!
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