Woodlands Park Nursery School & Children's Centre

Woodlands Park Nursery School & Children's Centre


Exploring Clay in the Nursery with Resident Artist Cath Rive 

What is this Mud where did you get it from? Asks Aliyah

‘It’s clay, it comes out of the ground’ Ethan

In the Nursery we have discovered clay is a valuable material in enabling children to settle into the nursery as it encourages conversations and sharing between children. It is a great as a tool for getting to know each other. Clay is introduced to the children as the term starts in September.


Clay is an inclusive open ended resource rich in possibilities. It is accessible to all ages and abilities. Children are able to share and express their interests and ideas.

‘I can make holes in it’ Patrick

Children's first encounters with materials involve exploration and action. This is a necessary step in the children's process of understanding. Through encounters and explorations, children build and awareness of what can happen with materials.

As their skills develop so do the possibilities their imaginations take hold. They move into open ended exploration making unique creations.


                  ‘I squish it Daniel’                               ‘I squish, soft and cold’ Grace

Clay can stimulate communication and social skills. As the children manipulate the clay, they tell stories. They discuss, conversations develop as they share interests, ideas and discoveries.  They ask questions and learn from each other. They have to work together sharing resources and space.


Spending time exploring clay children solve problems as they adapt adjust and rebuild their clay creations. They develop their confidence, show focus, persistence and resilience. As the children explore and manipulate the clay they make discoveries.

They test their strength exploring the weight, size and shape.


Over time they develop skills and strategies learning how to flatten the clay. They will use their fingers, hands, elbows, feet and tummies.

Clay is a fantastic mathematical resource. As the children explore the properties of the clay they develop concepts of weight, shape, space and number.


The children solve problems such as how to share a clay ‘birthday cake’ in to enough equal portions. They will divide the clay in to half’s, quarters… Instinctively they will cut the clay into many equal sized pieces.

As they manipulate they measure, and compare different size, and amounts of clay. They explore and experiment with two and three dimensional shapes. There are many opportunities to count and explore number. Their language develops as they describe the position and shape of their clay.

Clay as a creative tool for expression

Encouraging  the children to follow and express their own interests and ideas discoveries are made their creations are wide ranging, surprising and go way beyond our expectations. As their confidence and understanding of the possibilities of the clay develops so does their creativity and imagination. Independently they will seek out materials to combine with the clay.  

As the children manipulate large lumps of clay children develop their gross motor skills. These are the development of the large muscles in the body. These muscles are important for hand eye co-ordination, the ability to recognise body space and being aware of the left and right hand side of the body.

Clay helps develop fine motor skills allowing children to manipulate small amounts of clay in their hands and fingers. These skills enable children to manipulate small objects with precision. It also helps them make the precise movements required in writing.

In Blue room parents and carers are invited into the Nursery to spend time exploring the clay with their children. Phillip and his Mummy spent time together manipulating the clay with much determination and focus Phillip made this clay creation.