The Art Studio has been buzzing lately with lots of wonderful clay work from students in kindergarten through middle school! Students have been exploring a range of clay processes and techniques, such as coil building, slab rolling, pinching, and throwing on the pottery wheel.
Working with clay has many benefits for children of all ages. It is a complex sensory experience that encourages self-expression, helps promote self-confidence, and develops problem-solving and motor skills. Because clay is highly responsive to touch, children become engrossed in their work: they can express and articulate their ideas through shaping clay and learning to repair mistakes. Clay is different from other art mediums because it requires an understanding of the three-dimensional world. While working on their projects, students must move around to see their creations from all sides. From this, they begin to understand shape, form, and perspective and gain knowledge of planning methods and problem-solving as they map out their creation.
Upper Elementary and Middle School students have particularly enjoyed creating bowls, cups, and vases on the pottery wheel. The first step is to center the clay on the wheel by applying water and pressure to the clay with our hands. Once the clay is centered, students open it and slowly form it into a bowl, cup, or vase. Working on the potter’s wheel is a physical activity that aligns with the Montessori philosophy of encouraging freedom within limits: children focus on specific forming techniques and hand positioning while being free to move the clay into a desired shape. Each step of the wheel-throwing process engages both the body and the mind.