Grog, wedging, venting, coiling, calipers, metal banding wheels, slab, hole makers, loop tools, slip; all words that you might not instantly relate to clay.
Clay has multiple characteristics and just as many different uses. But it takes months of practice to turn it into the cups and bowls we take for granted.
Clay is available for the children to use at kindergarten on a regular basis and it is only through continued exploration that they are able to enhance their understanding of this natural resource.
If their work in progress needs adjustments then these can be made easily with simple pressure of the hand or an array of tools that can shape and manipulate the clay. The beauty of this material is that it is flexible and responsive to pressure when soft yet strong and durable when fired in a kiln.
As teachers it is important that we likewise develop our own skill set in a variety of areas so it was with this in mind that I embarked on a clay learning journey.
Mairangi Bay Art Centre offers night classes for adults( and children during the day) in pottery so armed with a small bit of knowledge and the willingness to learn, this term has been about getting to know this resource a bit better.
I can honestly say I have a new appreciation for all those potters out there as creating a vessel or object that you might purchase in a shop is harder than it looks.
You might have noticed at kindergarten the clay covered with cloths while it is on the table. This is to keep it moist as the longer it is exposed to the air and not been worked the harder it becomes.
Our clay table normally has an array of tools which can help join and smooth different pieces of clay together. Ruffing and wetting the surfaces with slip, likewise makes the creation stronger when joining pieces together.
But beyond the physical skills of how to use clay, opportunities like this test our ability to persist, to be open to new ideas and learning, build on existing knowledge, to pose problems, find solutions and strive for accuracy. All Habits of Mind that we encourage and foster in our tamariki at kindergarten.
At Albany Kindergarten, we want our children to develop “Habits of Mind” that lead them to become lifelong learners, effective problem solvers and decision makers. As teachers it is important that we push ourselves to also use these Habits of Mind, which helps us to foster them in our children.
So with a tea-pot, milk jug and plate created, my course came to an end. The wheel is a beast yet to be tamed but at least the clay stayed on the wheel and did not end up on a wall or another adult!
A mind when stretched by a new idea never regains its original dimensions Anonymous
Kaiako: Sarah G