Thursday, November 26, 2015

Toddler and Preschooler Made Polymer Clay Jewellery

Christmas can be an overwhelming time of year for little ones. With all the emphasis put on shopping and presents it can be hard for Christmas to not become all about 'getting'. One way we try and combat this, is by having the girls make Christmas gifts for their friends and special people.

I love how making gifts teaches the girls to think about others and sacrifice their time to create something special. However, I'm not a big fan of 'cookie cutter crafts'; instead I prefer to offer the girls craft opportunities that allow them to express their individuality whilst still producing a beautiful gift. I believe this gives them ownership and also allows them to feel a greater sense of satisfaction than I believe they might get from a 'cookie cutter craft'.

Last year when I was in Spotlight buying some polymer clay to make a bubblegum necklace for my sister-in-law's Christmas present, Bubbles began asking questions about the clay. "What is it? What will Mummy do with it? How will you make it into beads? Can I make some too?" I chose to follow Bubbles' interest and allow her to choose two colours of clay to make her own creations with, this ofcourse meant that Squiggles then asked for her own clay too, which I happily obliged in buying.

To prevent the clay from staining their clothes the girls chose to make their creations without any clothes on-so I apologise but there aren't many pictures to share with you today!

I provided the girls with some cookie cutters (lol, yes, ok, I don't like crafts that are identical but I don't mind using cookie cutters-so long as there's choice!), clay tools and a rolling pin. I then sat with them and made my creation whilst they set about making theirs-I'd love to say it was nice and relaxing but Squiggles did require constant attention-from being reminded NOT to eat the clay to being reminded to press the blunt side of the cookie cutters, NOT the sharp side!

Bubbles made several beads, and she chose to combine her clay together-something I was initially against (although I kept quiet about it) but credit where it's due-her beads looked beautiful. After making a few beads, Bubbles then progressed to making sculpture type beads-she was in her element.

Squiggles on the other hand, struggled to use the cookie cutters so instead we modified the ativity and I showed her how to roll some large beads. Squiggles then used her own initiative and squished the beads flat-they made the perfect pendants for necklaces and my mum even said they were her favourite. Simple, but beautiful.

Once the girls were happy with their creations we cooked them in the oven. Once cooled Bubbles turned her beads into bracelets by threading them on jewellery elastic which I then knotted. I then threaded Squiggles' creations onto some thin leather cord and Numnut tied an adjustable sliding knot for me in the ends.

Each of the girls' aunties and grandmas got a necklace and bracelet and we had beads left over.

How to make your own Polymer Clay Jewellery:

You will need:
2-4 packets of your favourite Polymer Clay (we used Sculpey)
Cookie Cutters
Clay Tools
Rolling Pin
Bamboo Skewer
Baking Paper or Silicone Mat
Leather Cord or Jewellery Elastic

Note: If you use a kitchen item on the clay, don't put it back in you kitchen to use on food.  The clay leaves a slight residue on things and so if you use a cookie cutter, rolling pin or silicone mat with your clay, dedicate it to a clay-only cutter from then on.

Begin by 'conditioning' your clay; or in other words, knead it until it is soft and pliable. (I found the girls patience didn't quite extend to this step so in the end I did this bit for them).

Next lay a piece of baking paper or a silicone mat in front of your child as their working surface. (This will keep your table clean and clay free!)

Next, let your kiddo create!

Once your child has made their creations take a bamboo skewer and poke a hole through to make it into a bead. (For great tips on how to do this without changing the shape of your child's creation check out this post by the Blue Bottle Tree).

Next bake your beads in the oven according to the directions on your clay packet.

Once cooled, thread the beads onto your leather or elastic and tie them off.

It's that easy!

For more activities like this check out my new book Learn with Play. It’s a collaborative work, written by myself and 93 other amazing bloggers, mothers, teachers and early childhood educators. The e-book comes with links to over 300 activities!

Please always supervise your infant/child at play.  Please stay within arms reach and never leave infants/children unattended.  You know you're infant/child best, use your own judgement-considering your infant/child's temperament, habits, behaviour and development before you play with a new play medium.

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