Of all the crafts children can do, ceramics may be the most fun and visceral. Children get to squish the clay with their hands and shape it any way they like. There’s also the excitement of waiting for the clay to dry, either in the kiln or in the air, and then getting to paint the project once it’s dried.
Clay Hand Print
Even the smallest child can make a clay hand print. You can use ceramic that needs to be fired in a kiln, if you have access to one or self hardening clay. You can also use plaster of Paris, which isn’t ceramic, but it will have the same effect and will air dry. Roll out the clay into a 6-inch wide circle or oval, spritzing it with water so that it doesn’t crack or harden while you work. Poke a small hole near one edge of the circle so you can hang the hand print later. Have the child press his hand into the clay, leaving an impression. Tell him to press hard, but not so hard that he pushes all the way through the clay. Make sure he washes his hands afterward. Fire the clay in the kiln or let it air harden, and then help the child paint it with a glaze.
Pinch pots are simple to make and a lot of fun. Use air-hardening clay for the fastest and easiest results. Have the child roll a piece of clay into a ball that is about the size of a tennis ball. Keep a small dish or spray bottle of water handy while the child works so that you can wet the clay and keep it from hardening. Help her push her thumbs into the center of the ball. Have her move her thumbs around the hole in the ball, stretching it out until she has a pot or bowl that is the size she likes. Push on the bottom of the pot to flatten it, and let the clay dry. Paint or glaze once dry.
Help your child make a ceramic beaded necklace or bracelet. Pinch of small pieces of air-drying clay and shape them into balls or whatever shape the child likes. Stab all the way through the beads with a toothpick or large hand needle. Let the clay dry, and then paint. Once the glaze or paint is dry, thread the beads onto a piece of string.
Collect several shiny beads, rocks or glass jewels. Take a large piece of air-hardening clay and shape it into a circle that is 2 inches thick and 12 inches in diameter. Have the child press the jewels and beads into the clay, in any pattern she likes. Spritz the clay with water to keep it soft while you work. You can also help the child scratch her name into the stepping stone. Let it dry, and then set outside in the garden.