Dylan’s first encounter with this ooey-gooey toy was when we went to a visit to his cousin’s house. We do this regularly every weekend. One day, we came to find her playing with clay. Dylan was so excited to join her. At first we thought Dylan couldn’t play with it yet, because he’s only 2 years old, but a quick browse at the toy store showed Play Doh for ages 2 years. We bought Dylan a kit and his little adventure began. While playing with him, I learned a few things of my own.
1. Go with your child’s interests.
When I set up the table for the morning’s activities, I had in mind learning the alphabet using clay. So I took out his little wooden alphabets and his flash cards together with the clay. My plan was to make alphabet imprints on the clay to give Dylan an idea of the shapes and forms of the alphabet. But, he wasn’t interested in that. He wanted to make things.
2. Give them opportunities for self-accomplishments.
So, I asked him if he wanted to make noodles (his favorite food). He was more than ecstatic. Here, we fed clay inside a noodle-maker (I don’t know what it’s called. Haha). Before, he would be content to just watch me make it, but this time he wanted to try it for himself. This was hard because it required him to push the plunger against the clay inside to get it out into its noodle form. When he was able to push a little, he pushed some more and he was so happy at his accomplishment.
3. Encourage their curiosity to learn new things.
At the same time, I was unconsciously making balls of clay between my hands. Dylan saw it and wanted to imitate it. So, I placed a little amount of clay between his hands and asked him to roll his hands together. He would do this and say “making balls”.
4. They’re not just destroying. They’re learning.
He got tired after a while and asked me to make the balls instead. He ended up squishing the balls. Rather than telling him to stop, I just let him. It was good exercise to strengthen his fingers for writing readiness.
Since we had different colored clay, I took the opportunity to run through his colors, instead. As he was lining up the balls, I would point to a particular ball and ask him what color it was. Dylan would pick up the ball, say its color, and then squish it between his fingers.
5. Encourage their creativity.
When he saw the balls together, he suddenly said “snowman”. I don’t remember him watching Frozen but he must’ve seen it watching Youtube. (Yes, he watches Youtube. With strict supervision, of course).
So I made different sized balls, put them together and asked him to put the arms in. I also asked him to choose the clay for his eyes, nose, and mouth. He willingly complied.
This is his first clay masterpiece. He was so happy and showed it to his father. We kept this snowman for a few days until it started falling off.
His favorite still remains to be “ice cream” and “noodles”. =)