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Taking Clay Outdoors – 5x5x5=creativity at St Saviours Infants

by James on March 9th, 2011

After last week’s session with the children using clay and found materials to think about shelters and houses, Tracy continued to talk to them during the week, to find out what they would like to do next.

There were two main threads, the first to use the clay again, and the second to follow up the shelter designing by making a big shelter for the children ‘to get inside’.

We decided to take things one step at a time and provide more clay for the children first, but with a completely open brief, and to take the clay back outside to Paul’s Garden where our investigations first started.

The children were also given access to the bamboo canes, string and mark-making materials that they used in the garden previously.

It was a really exciting session. We had the same core-group of children who I have been getting to know and vice-versa, but this time Tracy also opened the session up to a few other children to come along too. We wanted to provide other children with the opportunity to experience the sessions and to bring new ideas and strengths into the group, whilst maintaining our existing relationship with our core group of children.

We’ve also been thinking about our research question – what is it that we want to learn from the children’s investigations this year?

We need it to be fairly open so that we can follow the children’s interests, but focused enough so that our own interests are satisfied, that the school feels that it is learning from our research, and so that they can use it to support other children to learn through creative, outdoor play in the future. Its going to be something around the role of different materials/resources in supporting children’s creative play in the outdoors, I’ll come back to that in future posts!

To sum up the session, there was an amazing range of different interests and ways of working within the group, with a surprising variety of ways in which clay was made use of, but the different interests and roles kept coming together to form little clusters of children, sharing ideas and working in teams.

A shelter created by one girl using bamboo was made stronger by clay being added to the joins by another boy, whilst a third child drew a door and worked with me to attach it.

One boy seemed to use the clay to create a map on paper, with linear marks like pathways leading to a decorated mound, and ‘an eruption, like a volcano’.

Other children worked together to add sticks, flowers, and recycled plastic cutlery (brought as clay tools) to an old bird feeder, exploring weight and balance as the ‘sculpture’ swung and spun and heavier sticks fell off.

Finally as the session came to an end I asked the group what they wanted to do next week, and the majority are still keen to work together on a shelter, so that’s what we’re planning… plus a bit more clay for a boy wanting to continue designing/making house models, and the continuation of the hanging, flowered, bird-feeder sculpture.

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