The Den would like to send a massive thank you to our first Mystery Visitor. A parent, who is a secondary school art teacher, came to visit us and shared some of his skills with working with clay.
It's great when people come to visit us and share their knowledge and skills, as it demonstrates the wider community outside of Free Rangers, and also introduces our children to new techniques, tools and ideas.
We have used clay before at Free Rangers as we appreciate its potential for creativity and value its naturalness and sensory possibility. However, the children’s learning was enhanced further than we can normally facilitate by having an expert onsite.
The children were introduced to the clay, they used their senses to explore it as they felt its coldness and smooth texture. They watched closely as the clay was expertly sliced into squares using a traditional technique, using cheese wire. It was described as like slicing a loaf of bread. Each child then had their own flat square of clay, a blank canvas for them to add their mark to.
The children were guided, and shown how to roll their clay using a rolling pin and how to use tools, such as a fork, to make marks in the clay. Also, it was brilliant to see the children using natural resources to make marks as leaves and pine cones were available for the children to use to print into the clay.
We were also shown how to manipulate the clay into different shapes, including rolling the clay to make a sausage shape, then coiling the clay to make a snail. The children were introduced to the different language around clay that we wouldn’t normally use, thanks to an expert working alongside them.
Shape cutters were also used to manipulate the mud-like material. Using our hands as tools to manipulate the clay provides a sensory and exploratory experience.
When the tile shapes were finished we left them to dry, soon they will be ready to paint, fire in the kiln and then display. In this situation many children were focused on creating an end product, which is not always case. The exploration and creativity involved in playing with clay can give someone a greater sense of achievement, or even well-being due to its tactile and therefore potential theraputic properties.
Thanks again to ‘Mystery Visitor #1, We look forward to having more ‘Mystery Visitors’ in the Den to gain more experiences.