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Julie Steinberg

February 4, 2015
A&HA 4078
Journal Entry # 2
Exploring Clay & Talking About Art With Children
Theres nothing like it (p.115). Just as Nancy Beal (2001) describes the
experience of touching freshly cut clay for children, these were my thoughts exactly
when exploring clay this past week. Beal (2001) continues, There is nothing I can teach
them [the children] that they wont learn by exploring the material themselves (p.116)
and, They learn to trust this material (p.125). I appreciated the time to explore the clay
how it felt, all the things it can do, and what it could become. I can very much
understand the value of the exploration of clay can have for children.
As Beal (2001) described the excitement clay creates in her classroom, and as I
thought back to how much I enjoyed molding the clay in my own hands this week, I
thought about the importance of incorporating clay into my own curriculum. Across all
the readings this week, I couldnt help but relate the exploration of clay, as well as the
ideas surrounding talking about art with children, to areas of literacy instruction and
learning. Beal (2001) describes how young children begin to do narrative play with their
clay, such as they do with blocks. I imagine children in my future classroom using clay to
extend their narrative writing or oral story telling. For example, Id say, Make your story
from clay or, Today, use your clay to express your ideas. Beal (2001) features an
example and picture of child expressing friendship by joining two figures together
(p.129). I might also ask children, How can you show? with their own stories or to

make meaning of a text. For example, Beal (2001) asked, How can you show people
helping each other? (p.133).
I also made a strong connection between the way we as teachers, or adults in
general, can talk with children about their art, and the way teachers and children talk
about writing. Schirrmacher (1986) suggests that when we look at a childs artwork, we
smile, pause and say nothing at first. This not only gives the teacher time to study, reflect,
and decide what to say, but also gives children the opportunity to talk first. When
conferring with children on their writing or reading, we as teachers want to do the same
practices. Carl Anderson, a well-known teacher, staff developer and writer, says that
during these conferences we want to put the child in the drivers seat. We want to
carefully research before deciding what to say, notice, compliment, or teach. The same is
true when we talk about artwork with children.
When teachers provide the opportunities for children to create art, or explore
materials such as clay, and when we talk about art with children, in both instances, we
want children to construct their own meanings. As Mulcahey (2009) said, children
accept everything (p.29) and have ideas to be voiced. Our goal as teachers is to provide
opportunities for children to explore and learn from materials, construct meaning, and to
feel good about their creations and continue to create artwork, because with experience,
kids make incredible things (Beal, 2001, p.125).

References:
Beal, N. (2001). The Art of Teaching Art to Children. New York: Farrar, Straus and
Giroux.
Mulcahey, C. (2009). Talking With Children About Art, The Story in the Picture. Inquiry
and Artmaking with Young Children (pp.27-37) New York: Teachers College
Press.
Schirrmacher, R. (1986) Talking with Young Children About Their Art, Young Children,
July 1986.