Clay work at the U.S.T. nursery

Thumbnail Image
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Children take to art at a very tender age, they start scribbling on walls, paper, tables, floors and anywhere that catches their fancy. They start doing this at about the age of one year and they improve on what they do as they grow older. The art done by very young children is done unconsciously and they do it because they want to do something with their hands. However, children are introduced to guided art when they enroll in nursery schools. Unfortunately, almost all the art they do is on paper as they are introduced to drawing, painting or colouring. Children in the nursery schools are also given out pictures from magazines and guided to paste in scrap books made for them, Infact not much is being done to teach these children how to express themselves in three dimensional forms. The reason may be that paper work is easier ad lees tedious for the teachers and attendants to handle. For art work in the three dimensional will demand extra work because teacher will have to go round and look for materials end also see to it that the place is cleaned up thoroughly after each class as in clay-work. In Ghana clay-work is formally introduced to school children at the elementary level. To fill in this gap, this project is intended to introduce clay-work to nursery school children to find out how they would react to clay, It is presumed that some of the children at this level a familiar with clay and can recognise and handle it when they come into contact with the material, children play with clay only as something they can pull, flatten, roll, squeeze or manipulate and still retain the ball they have, but not as a modelling medium, This project will therefore help nurture any interest these children may have as they learn to find Out the unique qualities and characteristics of clay. “Art has a potentially vital role in the education of our children. The process of drawing, painting or constructing is a complex one in which the child brings together diverse elements of selecting, interpreting and reforming these elements, he has given u more than a picture or a sculpture, he has given us a part of himself: how he thinks, how he feels, and how he sees. For the child, this is a dynamic and unifying activity.”1 it is therefore necessary for children to be helped to develop their manipulative skills and expressions through art for their creative and mental growth to develop in a more natural way. Clay is an extraordinarily versatile material with the capacity for shaping in its wet and plastic state. It is also able to maintain its shape when it is dry. Moreover, clay, unless it has been fired, can be used over and over again. It can be recycled for use when it has dried up by adding water to it. As a result of these characteristics, clay is an ideal school. Material for use in the nursery Also, clay is most abundant in Ghana and is cheaper compared with paper and crayons, Clay-work can be taught in nursery school as an alternative at work for the children, Children at this stage are adventurous and eager to learn or try out new things and will therefore have enough to do with clay to keep them occupied rather than be bored with the subject, According to Lowenfeld and Lambert, “clay is an excellent three dimensional material for the pre-schematic stage. As in drawings we find a search for a definite concept of form; in c ay It is search is seen in a constant change of modes of representations and the representations themselves”,2 Clay-work can help develop and sharpen the mental, physical and emotional faculties of the children. The above writers, again on the use of clay by young children to mould things, consider the beating and pounding of clay without any visible purpose as being parallel to disordered scribbling which three year olds normally do in drawing, They go onto say that the terming of coils and balls without attempting specific objects are parallel to controlled scribbling. Lastly when children give a name to a piece of clay-work, it runs parallel to ‘Naming of scribbling’ in drawing or painting. However, it must be noted that these children can only achieve something worthwhile in art when their teachers are also interested in the subject,. But unfortunately, due to most Ghanaian teachers’ negative attitude toward clay-work, a vacuum is created in the education of the young ones. Most of the nursery school teachers in. Ghana often remark that teaching clay-work involves extra works due to the mess that clay creates; This attitude hinders free participation in activities involving the use of clay in the nursery schools in Ghana. This also adversely affects creativity in children. Impressions children form about whatever they first come into contact with goes a long way to influence them throughout their lives. Therefore young children especially pre-schoolers should be guided to express themselves freely in e wide variety of materials including clay. If the nursery teacher or attendant does not give the children the chance to explore with clay and are suppressed in all that they .o, it will have a negative effect on the children and may even kill their interest in clay-work. They may even grow up to dislike clay-work altogether, it is therefore important to ma the work e interesting arid lively as possible for the children to bring out their best. Also, apart from making use of their sense of touch while working with clay, clay-work helps children in their kinesthetic growth that is the development of muscles. Much of the information in this research is based on what was observed in working with 3 to 6 year old children, what they- modelled and en analysis of their works, As this is a new program to be introduced in the nursery school curriculum, it is hoped that this report will go a long way to help in effective teaching and learning of clay-work in nursery- schools in Ghana.
A thesis submitted to the Board of Postgraduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Postgraduate Diploma in Art Education, 1990