- books with clay illustrations, like The Circus Alphabet by Linda Bronson (Henry Holt & Company, 2001) or One Gray Mouse by Katherine Burton (Kids Can Press, 2002)
- salt dough (see recipe at right) or air-drying clay
- clay tools like rolling pins, modeling tools, and craft sticks
- tempera paint and brushes
- clear contact paper
- paper plates or cardboard
- language and literacy
Make a rebus chart for the salt dough recipe: 4 cups flour, 3 cups salt, 2 tablespoons cooking oil, 2 cups water, tempera paint or food coloring. Prepare the recipe in advance with your child. Invite him to combine the ingredients in a large bowl. Add paint or food coloring to create colored dough. Make several batches of dough, varying the color of each batch.
Introduce the activity by reading one of the suggested books. Explain to your child that he will have a turn creating his own clay illustrations and stories.
Provide your child with different colors of dough, along with tools for cutting and rolling. Show him how he can make three-dimensional characters or, if he prefers, how he can work flat- in relief-style or by drawing in the clay. If he chooses to work flat, provide him a sheet of clear contact or waxed paper, taped to the table, so that the clay will stay in place as he works.
Allow a few days for the salt dough to dry. If your child uses white dough, provide tempera paint for him to paint his work when dry.
Plan time for your child to write or dictate a story about his clay illustration.
Remember: Some children may have a story idea before they work with the clay, while others may need to focus on the clay and develop their story afterward.
Extension: Art Sand Words.
Give your child a sheet of oak tag paper or a piece of cardboard. Use glue in a squeeze bottle and assist him in writing his name with glue. Invite him to cover the glue letters with colored sand. Shake off the excess sand onto a paper plate.