Play and Clay

An integral part of life is continuous learning! As empowered role models at MTO Nursery we promote the freedom to feed our creative spirits.  

Joining the Clay Project hosted by the Haringey Early Years Team introduced us to the joys of clay in completely different ways. A number of intriguing topics were brought to our attention, opening up an array of exciting possibilities for our nursery children and since we strive to modernise our teaching techniques as often as possible, we’ve jumped on board!  

The project allows for this in a natural and experimental way. Clay has a beautiful malleable quality, which is inviting to most children. The value of clay play can be immense if executed with the child in mind. Since the product is reuseable and natural pieces can be added to exploration, it is an eco-friendly material with low levels of maintenance. Simply just add a cup of water and storage in an airtight container till next time.  

Providing a large mass of clay in the centre of a table or on the ground allows for free exploration, which children need to develop their understanding, problem solving and ideas. The benefits of clay are vast and run holistically across the different areas of learning. Whilst manipulating the clay, muscle strength is increased improving dexterity and co-ordination. Children who engage in clay activities are likely to develop good concentration skills, along with fine motor movement. Mathematics can be scaffolded as children begin to foster skills such as pattern making, identifying 2D & 3D shape and discovering weight and size.   

The project’s objective is to also be incorporated as communication tools, allowing non-verbal children to share their interpretations through clay, expressing their experiences and thoughts. Words such as twist, pinch and pound are introduced to build vocabulary during sessions. Once the foundations of a conversation are constructed, practitioners can provoke further ideas by using open questions and modelling techniques. 

Researching all the potential that clay has to offer has given the nursery a new outlook on the way we present, share, and communicate with our children. Further projects have since been born as a platform of expression and charity, such as the MTO Art Exhibition & Auction. Clay will soon be a featured area in our preschool and toddler room, we can’t wait to see the outcome that arise from its presence!