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teacher help: 6 year olds

updated thu 21 jun 01


primalmommy@IVILLAGE.COM on tue 19 jun 01

The biggest problem you'll have with 6 year olds is a short attention span. Imagination they've got loads of. Some might not like the wet/cold/dirty part of clay, accustomed to bright colored play-dough. But the best plan is not to over-plan; give them a basic project and let them go off in whatever direction they like.

Kids that age can tend to be very goal-focused, too: to those who seem hesitant, produce a bamboo skewer and suggest making beads for a necklace for mom (white clay, bisqued, takes watercolor paint nicely.) They like making bowls in a bowl form, or a plaster or bisque bowl shape.

Since the time can be too short for glazing, I like to have the kids roll or slap out a little slab of clay (tile? wall hanging? trivet? spoonrest?) in white, and then decorate it with thin coils, tiny balls, etc. of a dark clay. I put a bit of fabric over the top and roll them flat with a rolling pin. A hole or two in the finished tile for a nail, if it's for the wall.

They love to press things into clay, too. Tennis shoe soles, bottle caps, cookie cutters, whatever interesting junk you can find. i hand out plastic forks, popsicle sticks, and skewers (not too sharp) make a nice needle tool for cutting. The little dry pasta ABCs make names and words, which is kind of fun.

some things suggest themselves: snakes, snowmen (show them how to score and slip! Vince Pitelka at his workshop had yogurt containers full of wonderful slip for everybody, a very nice idea.) Two pinch pots can be connected rim to rim to make a ball -- which can be a piggy bank.

My biggest tried and true suggestion, whether it's game pieces or pinch pots: SHOW THEM EXAMPLES. It works for grownups and for little kids. Show them some of yours (greenware is fine) and save some from previous classes. Kids especially can be very hands-on, and are easily inspired to take an idea and make it their own.

Keep a bunch of ideas handy, small ones, but be willing to stand back a bit and let things flow. Sometimes we do projects that will be "smushed up" at the end (especially good for the end of the week.) We make a village, or draw a word from a hat and play "be the first to guess what I'm making".

I've learned from homeschooling and a houseful of little ones that less is more, when it comes to instruction. You'll learn as much watching them as they will from you, and they'll teach you how to teach them. It's just been too long since we were 6 for us to have their perspective on things (0;

Yours, kelly in Ohio (who just found a typo in her last post: that's MAPLE wheelhead I need to turn, not metal.)

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