Did you know that clay has lots of benefits besides just imagination? I love the sensory aspect of playing with clay, but there are a lot more skills to be mentioned as well!
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It’s no secret that I am a “crafty” kind of gal. I am constantly trying new mediums. D usually watches me but when I started with polymer clay, he wanted to be a part of it so bad. So one day while we were browsing the aisles of Hobby Lobby on our weekly trip, I spotted some non-drying clay. It was super cheap, too.
It doesn’t dry or stain which are my 2 favorite things about it! Also, it is not crumbly and it’s non-toxic. Since I have OCD, I won’t let him play with more than 1 color at a time. But if I give him the clay (on his plastic art place mat), a toothpick, paint brushes and a few cookie cutters, he is in HEAVEN and he can play for hours with this stuff. 9 times out of 10 I have to pull him away from it when we’re done. I can tell he uses it to get some frustration out as well.
Which brings me to the educational part of this post – all of the benefits that playing with clay (or play doh) has.
Benefits of playing with clay
- Fine motor skills – D loves to take the toothpick and make tiny little holes in the clay (he calls them eyes, nose and mouth). Then he uses his hands to roll it back up and start over. They can also use the toothpicks to write things in the clay. He also loves to push the paintbrushes in. So if you give your child a paintbrush, just make sure it’s something you don’t want back 🙂 I am also giving him clay tools in his stocking on Christmas. I found them at 5 Below for super cheap. I actually can’t wait to play with them!
- Alphabet and numbers – We have ABC and number cookie cutters that he uses and we talk about the letter, what words start with it, etc.
- Sensory – Ohhhh sensory. I LOVE sensory play, especially for boys. Sensory play helps develop and perfect children’s senses. He can press it down, he can stick things in it, he can roll it (all sense of touch). (For sense of smell, I have added certain extracts to play doh, but not clay. I am not sure if this clay would keep the smell or if the extract would ruin the clay.) Obviously the one sense you cannot address with this activity is taste!
- Emotional – Like I said before, I noticed that he will press very hard and make angry noises (we call them “Hulk noises”), but after he’s done playing, I can sense that he is much calmer. It’s crazy. But it’s true! In college, I learned about how sensory activities with pushing and pressing help calm nerves and lower aggression. Think about it – do you have one of those stress balls? A balloon with play doh in it? It’s all the same idea.
So, if you’re looking for a last minute stocking stuffer or Christmas gift, look no further! Check out your local craft store. Just make sure it says on the label “non-drying.”