Have your kids ever tried using a pottery wheel? It is a tool used for shaping pottery and while the real thing is definitely out of our budget, I’m glad they make inexpensive children’s versions.
O, pottery, how do I ♡ thee? Let me count the ways:
Sensorial. In addition to exploring a different method of visual arts, using a pottery wheel is extremely sensorial in nature. The children’s hands have to be wet in order to soften and mold the clay. Talk about a real good reason to play with mud!
Control of movement. I believe there is also a practical side to pottery. I’m not referring to the technique of making pottery, but rather the control of movement that it requires. Children tend to have large and rough movements, but the gentle touch and controlled force that is required in the use of a pottery wheel is an exercise in a child’s self-control.
Concentration. Along with this gentle and controlled touch comes immense concentration. I most often see this concentration expressed on Zach’s mouth — he will either have a pout or tongue sticking out. (One of my friend’s kids actually drool when in deep concentration and that was when he was 7 or 8 years old!)
Purposeful activity. I really believe in giving a child an activity that is purposeful. An activity that he sees why, how, when and where it fits in the grand scheme of his culture and life. In the case of pottery, once Zach witnessed the function of the wheel, he decided immediately that he was going to make a cup. This knowledge and purpose seemed to drive him to want to finish his work even though we had already spent about an hour on the pottery wheel.
Spiritual depth. “But now, O Lord, You are our Father; We are the clay, and You our potter; And all we are the work of Your hand.” (Isaiah 64:8) Maybe too deep for the kids today, but definitely the sensorial and practical experience filed away in their souls to be retrieved at a later time when they need spiritual strength.
The mess when using a pottery wheel is unavoidable, however I have posted some tips on how to minimize them in your home. Our pottery wheel is by Creatology, and there are many selections from Amazon. I really like the foot pedal on/off mechanism on the Faber-Castell (battery operated) and Mindware (plugs to a power outlet).