clay dough

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Imagination? Oh, Yeah!!!

Mi familia - ¡Todos!Mi familia - ¡Todos!When my kinderfriends first began playing at my clay dough center (home-made, of course!) I included some generic cookie cutters. Being the clever scrounger I was, I foraged used cutters and other tools in lots of places - thrift shops, hardware stores, and my "junk" boxes in the barn. At first, kids were thrilled with the huge selection of tools they could use to manipulate the dough. I kept things in a long, skinny basket on the center of the table and encouraged kids to use as many as they could during their art time. I was happy. Kids were happy. Play dough was sliced, chopped, pummelled, and tasted (I know, I know - we covered that in the safety stuff at the beginning of class, but five year olds HAVE to taste everything. Once.)

It's my pet elephant!It's my pet elephant!

After a couple of weeks, though, I noticed that the "giggle with joy" levels had dropped substantially. I kept observing and found identical "cookies" stacked on identical, tidy piles. Careful was winning over creative and kids were demanding bigger rollers to make the dough "perfect." A sweet grandma who volunteers on occasion noticed me watching intently and quietly noted, "Maybe they'd do better with fewer things in the basket." Yep. We were both thinking the same thing.

The next time kinderfolk came in, they were met with a fresh batch of dough, complete with a color change and zippy fragrance. (I love Kool-aid colors and smells - and admit it freely.) When the kids said, "Where's the stuff?" we responded with, "Today we're using our fingers as tools and our imaginations when we make things here." Sure enough, the giggle ratio soared and the kinds of things that choice classrooms are famous for - kids using their own ideas, sharing and building upon what other kids do, and putting things together to work together were in evidence. Yes - the noise level is a little higher, but that's a healthy thing. We're having more fun now and the dough is doing a great job of keeping up with multiple squeezing and pounding that only gifted kinderbuilders can offer.
Snow woman and smileSnow woman and smile

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