Ready-To-Use Teaching Idea: Art/Science
- salt dough (follow recipe) or air drying clay
- tempera paint or food coloring
- materials to decorate sculptures, such as feathers, art wire, toothpicks, smooth small wood shapes, buttons, and rocks
Objective: Children will help mix up a batch of salt dough to create animal sculptures. This activity will encourage scientific observation, creativity, imaginative play, and fine-motor skills.
1. Explain to children that they will make salt dough and then use the dough to create animal sculptures. Illustrate the salt dough recipe. Discuss the different ingredients and how they change as the mixture is prepared.
2. Invite children to assist you in preparing the salt dough recipe. Salt Dough Recipe: 4 cups flour, 2 cups salt, 2 tablespoons cooking oil, 2 cups water, tempera paint or food coloring (optional). Combine the ingredients in a large plastic bowl. Tempera paint or food coloring can be mixed into the water and added to the ingredients to make colored salt dough. If you are making several batches of dough, each batch can be made into a different color. Pass the bowl around for children to take turns kneading the dough. (This recipe should make enough clay for 10 to 12 children.)
3. Invite small groups of children to the art area. Provide them with salt dough and art materials so that they can make animal sculptures. Encourage children to experiment and investigate the materials. Place the animal sculptures in a safe area to dry. Remember: Some children do not enjoy working with clay, so provide paper and collage or drawing materials as an alternative.
4. Invite children to share their salt dough animals during group time. Does each animal have a special name? Does it speak a special language? What type of animal sound does it make? Use children's sculptures to develop additional creative and imaginative-play activities. Children can tell stories about their animals, create conversations with their classmates' animals, or use blocks to create animal homes.
Curriculum Connection: Dramatic Play
Animal Pantomimes. Invite children to act out different animals without using sounds or words. Ask them to guess what animal their classmate is pretending to be. Continue with the pantomime until everyone has had a turn.
This activity originally appeared in the January, 2001 issue of Early Childhood Today.