We have recently introduced Frida to modelling clay! I have such fond memories of using modelling clay (I think we called it plasticine?) as a child, and so was really looking forward to getting some out to use with Frida.

Although I could have made a batch of playdough and mixed up all different colours, I thought it would be simpler and nicer (and actually a bit cheaper than buying loads of food colouring!) to buy some ready-made modelling clay.

I went for this stuff by Okonorm as it’s non-toxic and gorgeously bright soft clay that doesn’t dry out at all, despite being stored in open air.

Although the primary benefit to modelling is that it’s fun, playing with materials like clay, dough and bees wax is so good for young children – the pinching, patting, kneading and rolling all help to build up the muscles and fine motor coordination they will need for holding a pencil and writing.

I also find it’s a calming activity that we can do together as a family. There’s something so soothing about using modelling clay to create simple figures, even as adults. A few days ago the three of us sat down and modelled and chatted for a while before supper, and it was so lovely to create and play together in that way. And of course, modelling encourages imagination and creativity.

Frida is still too young to be able to make anything realistic, so what I’ve found she really enjoys is if I make a simple figure or two (say, a cat and a mouse), and then she can make them “food” and “blankets” and so on. This stops her getting frustrated at her own technical limitations whilst allowing her to create purposeful things to use in her play. We have also made simple flowers together, and Frida is getting better at “fixing” models when they break, for example sticking an errant ear back onto a dog!

This is obviously an approach tailored to Frida’s personality – other toddlers may prefer parents to leave them to it, but Frida definitely prefers us to be involved.

Do you use modelling clay with your toddler? What’s your favourite way to use it?

Posted by:Eloise R

3 replies on “Toddler art activities: modelling clay 

  1. Juniper is going through a “food” stage! Everything is about making or preparing food (imaginary and real), feeding things/animals/us, asking about food, pretending to eat. I wonder if it’s a schema? Loving the modeling clay. We’ve been doing kinetic sand lately (also gets turn into food) and playdough. I only give her a color or two at a time, but seeing Frida work with more than a couple of colors makes me think I should branch out a bit. I’ve been trying to protect the quality of our dough and avoid lots of color mixing, but maybe I shouldn’t worry about it so much. Thank you for sharing!

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