For young children the sensory world is a source of satisfaction, and imagination is the source of exploratory delight. And, it is these inclinations toward satisfaction and exploration that enlightened educators and parents wish to sustain… A culture populated by people whose imagination is impoverished has a static future.
~ Eisner, E., (2002).
Introducing and Using Potter’s Clay With Children
(excerpt from the Field Guide)
written by Judy Graves, co-founder of TPP
Potter’s clay is one of nature’s gifts that comes directly from the earth. Potter’s Clay is different from modeling clay, play dough or plasticine clay. Potter’s clay has a variety of attributes. It can be used with hands alone to offer a sensory experience that appeals to our tactile senses. Clay is a malleable medium that can be shaped and formed. It has an earthy, pungent smell to remind us that it’s a natural material created in nature.
The affordances of clay (the possibilities of what clay can do) are quite distinct from other materials that children often encounter. For example, clay can be squished, poked, shaped, carved and imprinted. You can add to clay by building up or subtract from clay by carving out areas to create depressions. Clay will hold its shape almost indefinitely. In addition it can be fired to create a final product. However, it best serves young children as both a tinkering and a thinking medium as children discover the many ways it can be transformed to satisfy their intentions. Clay as a thinking medium allows children to communicate ideas and emotions in non-verbal ways because clay can be transformed into both concrete images (representation of an object) or abstract ideas (expression of an emotion such as joy). In addition, Potter’s clay can be used with a combination of other materials for an intended purpose or used as an armature to hold objects in place.
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