By Megan Churchill, Keeeps
The countdown (for the kids) is on! School will soon be out, and the kids will be at home for 6 to 8 weeks to enjoy the summer break (and drive you slightly mad!). With summer holidays abroad somewhat off the cards and the weather looking okay but not great, some iPad, computer, TV time is inevitable. If you need ways to keep your kids busy which doesn’t involve electronics, and even something that you can all get involved with as a family, then look no further.
A home pottery kit is being touted as the perfect activity to get kids of all ages into over the holidays. We decided to give it a go and come up with some ideas as to what can be made with clay to keep the children entertained.
Pottery can be done indoors or outdoors, so rain or shine, and is super messy fun. Pottery really took off over lockdown 2020 and at home kits became popular with both kids and adults, so they’re ideal for family fun. It’s a really calming experience for everyone involved as you go into a zone and forget about everything else around you.
The “Busy Hands, Quiet Minds” clay kits (from Common Ground Collective) that we sell at Keeeps contain 1.5kg of air-dry clay, and having tried and tested the kit, we can confirm that this is enough clay for 2 people to have a bash, making it a bit of a bargain! We managed to make 5 things from our clay and had a small ball leftover too. The kit also includes a rolling pin, 6 wooden sculpting tools, metal rib, wooden paint brush and clear sealant, so plenty of tools to go around from just one kit for your little ones to carve, cut and mould the clay into whatever they fancy.
Gabriella Croci, Founder of the Common Ground Collective who put together the kits, and who regularly runs children’s clay workshops said “Clay is an amazing resource for re-connecting with nature, slowing down, and switching off from all things external! Worries, doubts and rational thoughts are transformed into a mindful process of hand building with clay; leaving your child feeling proud, grounded and calm. Its tactile and reclaimable nature means that children can mould it in a range of ways. Without the intimidation of a fresh blank canvas, children can revisit and reimagine their ideas as many times as they’d like, the possibilities are truly endless - the activity that keeps on giving!”
Not only are the clay kits good fun, but it’s good for their development too: “Children learn through experimentation and discovery, and messy play encourages children to explore new textures and manipulate different materials through touch”. You certainly get this from the clay kits where it’s encouraged to prod, poke, splash, carve, and shape, all with their fingers!
Shona, Editor of Berkshire Mummies had a go with our home pottery kit with her children and said "My eldest loved the Keeeps home pottery kit, it allowed for an hour plus of creativity and imagination. The end results were fantastic".
In advance of the school holidays, we thought we’d try out 8 simple objects your children can make with a home pottery kit, either on their own or with a little guidance when you hear them cry, “But, I don’t know what to make!”.
8 THINGS YOUR CHILDREN CAN CREATE WITH A HOME POTTERY KIT
Just tear off a piece of clay or cut it using the clay cutting wire provided and suggest that your child makes their favourite animal. This gets them to use their imagination but also gets them to think of something for themselves. Whether it be a car, a character from their favourite show or a dinosaur, whatever they are into, suggest that they make it out of clay. If they’re still struggling, grab one of their favourite books and get them to pick a character to copy and they’ll soon get into the swing of it
2. Snake pots
These are really simple to make, and you may remember making these at school back in the day, but you simply rip a piece of clay off and roll out using a rolling pin. Cut around a circular object (we used a jar top!) to create a circular base. Then cut off small chunks of clay and roll into little thin sausages, between your hands or against the table top. Wind the sausage shape around the circular base sticking it down with some wet clay acting as ‘glue’, then layer more sausage shapes on using the ‘glue’ to stick each sausage on top of each other. These spiral, snake or coil effect pots are super easy to make and fun to paint afterwards too!
3. Pen Pot
The kit's printed instructions tell you how to make two types of pen pot. It’s dead easy and the kids can use the tools provided to decorate it as they like. We love the pen pot as it is truly functional so kids can then put it in their bedroom or in the study once finished and they can take real pride in what they’ve created!
This requires a little more equipment, but luckily it’s only a piece of string! Simply roll the clay into balls, or whatever shape you would like the “beads” on your necklace to be and then pierce a hole into the middle of each bead to run the piece of string through. These can be painted in all different colours, extending the creative fun into the following day!
5. Clay Pinch Pot
The instructions tell you how to create a “pinch pot”. Rest assured, its easy-peasy so you can explain and show your children how to do this, without very much effort. Names, shapes and patterns can all be carved onto the pot to make it their own. Once done, you can either use it as a plant pot, by potting little succulents in and watching them grow or they can be used as trinket dishes for them to put their odds and sods or jewellery in.
6. Money Bank
If your kids like to save their pennies (or maybe you want them to learn about saving money), they can make themselves a piggy bank to store their pocket money. This doesn’t have to be as elaborate as you imagine. It could just be a pot with a lid on, but this is something fun to make, where you could maybe offer them an incentive in the form of coins to make it!
The perfect homemade gift for mum or grandma, paired with a small bunch of dried flowers. We used the pot technique given in the leaflet and then freestyled the top part a little. Then we decorated the front using more clay moulded into the shape of a flower. And who’s to say they couldn’t make one for dad or grandad with a golf club or football on the front!
8. Flower bowls
Intended to act as a little dish to put trinkets in, simply cut out a circle (cut around a can or a jar to make this easy) and then cut some petal shapes out of the clay and stick them to the circular cut out, fanning them out. You can use the tools or wet clay to help stick it all together. Flick up the end of the petals to create a bowl shape and you’re good to go!
Having tested out the clay kits ourselves, here are a couple more useful tips for you:
- Have a bowl of water close by to wet the clay to make it softer for small hands! This also means splashier mud so put a sheet or tablecloth down to protect the surroundings.
- Before decorating, leave your creation to dry out for a few hours, particularly if you have used a lot of water during the creation process. This stops you from squeezing your pottery out of shape while painting, as it will have become a bit more rigid by that time.
- If you want to paint your creations, acrylic paints are best, but if you have a few old nail varnishes, they work really well for decoration. We used some old 'Barry M' nail varnishes and they worked a treat!
So, there you have it! Some inspiration to get your kids going at home with a clay kit. It certainly helps to have some ideas to hand and we loved shaping and creating. It was such a calming afternoon and we would definitely do it again. If your kids love it (and we haven’t yet met a kid who hasn’t!), why not treat them to a pottery taster class where they can experiment further? We’ll be offering pottery classes in the Autumn when our shop opens which will be available to book from the summer – sign up to our newsletter to receive all the pottery class updates.