Language and communication are a vital part of Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) learning. In a successful attempt to engage families, Washwood Heath Nursery School invited parents into school to work with their children with clay. Inspiration came from what the children were making and the stories that emerged whilst they worked with the material. The resulting clay objects were fired, glazed and used as a resource for further story telling
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Nobody quite does clay like Washwood Heath Nursery School!
At this time of year, I’m always astounded by the children’s clay skills and the length of concentration exhibited around the clay table. Having the material available on a daily basis has a massive effect on skills, ability and language required to work with the material.
The five freshly hatched chicks in the incubator, (yesterday there were x5 eggs..) provided plenty of inspiration for my coil pot demo which soon started to resemble a fluffy chick.
“you can’t make a chick, you need an egg to make a chick like the others”
The children demonstrate their amazing coil rolling skills, some of them making the tiniest, most delicate beautifully thin coils. Others direct their clay exploration in a myriad of directions and creative avenues. Great stuff!
The first week at Nursery School can be quite a step for both child and parent. Washwood Nursery School in Birmingham have a caring and innovative approach to help ease the transition from from home to nursery life.
Staff invite parents and carers to remain in school, but in a separate hall whilst the children have their first sessions in the classroom. If a child is too upset, it means the adults are not too far away to offer solace. Craft activities (basket making and pottery to name but two) are offered to the parents to keep them occupied.
The grown-ups are always appreciative and comment on the therapeutic and calming effects of working with the artists and their materials. Some of them attend repeatedly even if their child has well adjusted to the new routine.
Some of the dads who are reluctant at first, soon get involved, particularly enjoying the potter’s wheel and the competitive potential. Comparing his work with another dad, one beaming parent proclaimed:
“Mine will last centuries – yours will last only decades!”
A few years back I had the good fortune to collaborate with ‘Forest School Fiona’ at Washwood Heath Nursery School in Birmingham. We worked with children, staff and parents to construct a magnificent bread oven in the playground.
The oven has been well loved and played with and was starting to look a little ‘tired’ to say the least!
Just before 1/2 term the children and myself demolished what was left of the original, soaked down and re-claimed the clay and promptly re-built the structure.
Although I’m a regular visitor to Washwood Heath Nursery School in Birmingham, I’m delighted when groups from the School come and work with me on the Eastnor Castle Estate. So far this year we have welcomed a mini-bus full of parents and last month, staff came and learnt about clay techniques as part of their INSET.
Loving this strawberry made by one of the participants.