Introduction to the Studio -
Typically in Reggio-inspired programs, a vital space in the classroom is the "studio" where children can investigate ideas through the creative process. As a Curriculum Specialist this year, I decided to bring clay into our studio as our first material to explore. I put thought and intention into setting up this space in a way for children to access the clay and tools on a daily basis. As I moved through this process, I considered how important it was to find a balance between leaving it as an open-ended opportunity and driving the dialogue about the material. In this space, I can fulfill my role of introducing new vocabulary, processes, tools, and techniques to equip the children with a fluency in this language.
Stories of the Studio -
While I knew providing clay to children would promote their hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, sensory integration, and artistic expression, I was delighted to witness the power of clay to inspire the children's storytelling. For me, this was far more valuable than any objectives I could have set.
Even on the morning of our initial experience, the joy I saw in Lily while interacting with clay in the studio, side by side with her peers, brought a smile to my face. Her contagious enthusiasm was an invitation for me to look closer at the interactions taking place.
I sat back and took time to really listen to and observe the different interactions she and her classmates had with both the clay and with one another. I noticed that as they sat together and messed about with this complex material, the block of clay brought lots of giggles and initial impressions. Soon after, Lily and her peers began to peel away handfuls of clay and bursted into storytelling as they manipulated the clay. But, they were limited to what the could create because they did not yet have enough concepts about working with clay. I knew it was time for me to step in.