Benefits of Working With Clay
Clay is one of the most effective art mediums for children to discover and develop their creative and learning skills. The process of working with this natural material to create a unique clay project supports personalized learning, sensory development, fine motor skills, self esteem, self expression, problem solving skills, discipline and pride in a child. In addition, clay has a well documented therapeutic quality that settles and calms children.
For a teacher or a parent, it is a special moment to witness a child’s joy as he or she creates a pottery project from a “lump of clay” or works on a pottery wheel for the first time. The children develop both fine and major motor skills as they handle the clay and feel it responding to their manipulation and imagination.
Want your kids to be smarter? Let them Play with Clay
A recent study concludes that dirt contains microbes that help your kids become smarter and has natural anti-anxiety properties. In May 2010, a local newspaper published an article* about research into clay by Dr. Dorothy Matthews. Dr. Matthews discovered that mucking about in good old Mother Earth calms and helps children focus when completing tasks due to the presence of vaccue bacterium in the clay. This bacterium produces serotonin in the brain stem by activating neurons and the serotonin that helps children to learn. The researchers noted that “we’ve become so urbanized that we risk losing a connection with an organism in nature that may actually be beneficial to humans.”
For over 30 years, Clay for Kids has seen how working with clay can produce a “magical” experience for kids of all ages. Clay is an organic composition of mineral and water that can calm the most active child. Children enjoy the tactile feel and mental stimulation and creativity that is provided by clay. Also, teachers utilize our school program to solidify curriculum concepts and help students to focus on their studies.
*Calgary Herald, May 25th, 2010 “Want your kids to get smarter? Let ‘em play in the dirt” written by Sharon Kirkey, section A.
Our Pottery Wheel
Many schools are excited about providing their students with the opportunity to work on our portable pottery wheel. This service is offered in our regular in-school workshop and our Artist in Residence program. If a class is booked for the creation of curriculum projects and wheel work, then two instructors are present; one to lead and clay making and one to lead with the pottery wheel work. The class will begin with project instruction the regular pottery wheel demonstration and the students will then start the curriculum project. Each student will temporarily stop their work so that s/he can create a second clay project on the wheel. Our instructors will help them to center the clay, shape the piece and then apply a slip glaze to the spinning clay work. Each piece will be fired in our kilns and returned to the students with a “food safe” gloss finish.
Clay for Kids is proud of the fact that we manufacture our own pottery wheel in Alberta. We always believed that a pottery wheel demonstration was essential to the student learning experience and experimented with commercial pottery wheels for several years. However, none of these wheels were rugged enough to with-stand the daily transportation and handling by our instructors. Also, we wanted to provide the opportunity for students to work on the wheel. Although our instructors could work on the commercial wheels, they were generally not suitable for children.
Our pottery wheels are designed and assembled by qualified technologists and tradesmen. The pottery wheel assembly has been tested by the Canadian Standards Association and is CSA approved. The wheel is small enough to be carried by our instructors but is still stable while spinning during operation. The diameter of the aluminum wheelhead is ideal for the smaller hands of children but is still suitable for adults. The wheelhead is “bowl shaped” to minimize splatter while the wheel is spinning as this is a concern in a crowded classroom. The speed of rotation is fixed at a rate that is most suited for children based our