Play and theme-based learning with our children

Monday, December 26, 2011

How We Made Our Clay Ornaments

This post first appeared on the blog, and I'm re-posting here for the sake of keeping memories in one place.

OK, I’ve finally accepted that my calendar isn’t broken. It really is almost the middle of December(!!). Though my Christmas spirit is still simmering, my 4-year-old son’s holiday radar is burning red hot. He’s ready for Santa action, so when I asked him if he’d like to make his own tree ornaments, he could hardly contain his excitement!

To make our ornaments, we used:
Air dry white clay
Wax paper
Cookie cutters
Glitter glue 
Rolling pin
Straws or chop sticks (to make the holes)
Hooks or twine for hanging
Paint brush

The first step, and the one that required a bit of elbow grease, was conditioning and rolling out the clay. My son loved working the clay with his hands, and he got to do some of the flattening with a rolling pin. The clay can be sticky so the wax paper was key, and since the clay is thick too, I stepped in to get it smooth and flat.

My son pressed down his cookie cutters on the flattened clay, and my first instinct for isolating the part of interest was to peel away the clay outside the cutters. Wrong! It worked much better to simply lift the cookie cutters since the clay inside neatly pulled up with the cutter.

With a clear image in his mind of how he wanted to decorate his gingerbread man, tree and snowflake, my son carefully applied the glitter glue. But the glitter glue wasn’t always cooperative. It has a tendency to blob out if you squeeze too hard. He also tried painting the glue on with a paintbrush, which is nice for coating the clay. Despite the blobs, I still think the glitter glue is a great choice. My son practiced fine motor control, the glitter bonded well to the clay, and of course it shimmers!

Finally, I made my own ornaments (I couldn’t resist!) and used a straw or chopstick to poke the hole for hanging on the tree. We let our ornaments dry overnight, and the next day we flipped them over so the back side could dry, giving you a chance to decorate it the next day too.

Another option, if you’re not into glitter glue, is find objects to press into the clay — sort of along these lines You could try pine needles, pine cones, shells — or even Matchbox-type cars or little figures or animals.

In any case, we would love to see your DIY Christmas tree ornaments!  Please  add them to our Kiwi Crate Facebook page.  It’s always fun to see your creations too!

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