Homemade Clay Projects For Kids

Make animals, beads, or a memorable hand print with these crafty ideas.

Clay craft is wonderful to do with kids in school, with church groups or at home. There are a variety of recipes. Some are for air-hardening clay, others are for bake-in-the-oven clay. There is also a clay, similar to play dough which can be used over and over again. Working with clay is an experience. You sink your hands into the clay and feel the cool, malleable material. Then you turn that lump of clay into a recognizable object whether beads for a necklace, or a pot, sculpture, or other item. The fun is in the making of the clay, the forming of the clay and the finished object. Clean up is easy and the cost is low to moderate. And best of all, once you start working with clay you can do it again and again.

To work with young children as well as older children, I recommend this easy recipe for a permanent clay project. It requires adult cooperation.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 - 2 cups water

4 cups flour

1 cup salt

1 tsp. alum

Acrylic paint (quick drying)

Clear gloss spray

A HANDPRINT OF YOUR CHILD ( A memory craft)

Mix the flour, salt, and alum in a large bowl. Slowly add water and stir until you get a nice clay consistency. When it is mixed well, put it on a pastry board or wax paper. Roll out . Make sure the clay is at least ½ inch thick or it will be too thin for the hand print.. You have enough to make several. Have your child or children press their hands into the shape. Carve in the center the name and age of your child. Mine simply has Rob, age 3. Cover with a plate but do not press this on the image. The plate is a pattern so you can cut out a circle. Make a hole in the top for hanging. Make sure it is large enough for a ribbon or leather piece to go through. Be aware the finished product will shrink.

Use an ungreased Teflon coated cookie sheet and bake at 250 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Check it at 25 minutes since different ovens cook at different rates. Turn it over and bake another 25 to 30 minutes. When it is done remove it from the oven. Let it cool before you try to take it off the cookie sheet. If there are any rough edges, sand with fine sandpaper, the kind sold at ceramic or craft shops. Now you are ready to paint it with the acrylic. Let your child pick out his or her favorite color. Paint both sides. When it is dry spray with clear gloss spray. To keep your home environment free of the fumes, take a box and put the finished piece in it. Then spray it outside or in an area with plenty of ventilation. This is a wonderful memory craft for yourself, but also would be a good gift for grandparents.

Another project you can make with your homemade clay that kids will love are bugs, animals and butterflies. Don't worry if the finished products aren't perfect. The enjoyment is in the working with clay. Kids will be happy with whatever they make.

Additional material:

Slim permanent markers

Acrylic paint

BUGS, ANIMALS AND BUTTERFLIES

Lady Bugs

Use the same recipe as above. The youngest children can roll a walnut-sized piece of clay and turn this into a little bug. Lady bugs are the easiest since they don't have visible legs or antennas. After it is baked and dry paint it red with the acrylic paint. Let this dry, then add the dots on the back of the lady bug with the slim permanent black marker.



Cats and Dogs

Older children can create dogs and cats which require more skill. The body is a two inch roll of clay. The head is a ball of clay. Pinch out the type of ears you need, either floppy or pointy. Roll a small piece for the tail. . The legs are 1 inch rolls of clay. To attach the pieces you use a little water and press to the body. Shape the snout with your hand. The other details you will add with acrylic paint after it is baked.

Creating animal shapes will take practice but if it doesn't work the first time, simply roll it back into a ball and start over again. If the clay starts to dry, add some water. When the animal is to your liking place it flat on a cookie sheet and bake. Finish off the painting details after it cools.

Butterflies

Butterflies are more delicate but older kids and teens can make these. The body is a thin, delicate oblong about an inch. The wings are made separately. Roll them out with either a child-sized rolling pin, or a small smooth glass.The wings resemble heart shapes on their sides. You can make your own, or use a heart shaped cooky cutter. . Attach to the body. Use a little water to fuse these together. Add thin antennas. The butterfly will be beautiful once it is baked and dried and you add colorful details with paint. Use the magic marker for a dot on each side of the body for the eyes and to color the antenna.

Once you start making your own clay you can find many other projects. Beads are fun and easy.

Additional materials:

Drinking straws or wood pencils.

Toothpicks

Styrofoam block or corrupgated egg carton

Length of leather long enough for a necklace

Follow the recipe above and roll out your clay with a child-sized rolling pin, or a small smooth drinking glass. Use a blunt knife and cut strips from 1" to 2" in length and about 1" side. Roll this over the straw or pencil. TIP: You can use an a cooking spray to make it easy to release the beads. Let them dry. Remove the beads and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in over as above.

Don't worry if the beads come out in different shapes and sizes. That adds to the unique quality of the necklaces you'll make with the finished products. When you paint your beads you'll find it easier and less messy to use toothpicks to dip the bead in paint. Then stick the toothpick in Styrofoam or an empty egg carton to let the paint dry. When the beads are completely dry string on a leather strip with the largest bead in the center.

BUGS, ANIMALS AND BUTTERFLIES

Another project you can make with your homemade clay that kids will love are bugs, animals and butterflies.

Additional material:

Slim permanent markers

Another project you can make with your homemade clay that kids will love are bugs, animals and butterflies.

Use the same recipe as above. The youngest children can roll a walnut-sized piece of clay. This will be the bugs body. Older children can create dogs and cats which require more skill. The body is a two inch roll of clay. The head is a ball of clay. Pinch out the type of ears you need, either floppy or pointy. Shape the snout with your hand. The other details you will add with acrylic paint after it is baked. The tail can be a tiny ball or a thin string-like piece of clay. Creating animal shapes will take practice but if it doesn't work the first time, simply roll it back into a ball and start over again. If the clay starts to dry, add some water. The legs are 1 inch rolls of clay. Stick this all together smoothing the joined pieces with your hands. Lie flat on the cookie sheet. Butterflies are more delicate but older kids and teens can make these. The body is a thin, delicate oblong of an inch. The wings are made separately. Roll them out, then with a cutting tool cut heart shapes. Attach to the body. Use a little water to fuse these together. Add thin antennas. You will paint the other details on after the clay is baked.

Bake as above. Let it cool thoroughly. Paint on your details. I find it easiest to paint the entire body a light color. Then details can be added with the permanent markers.

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