Clay and Pipe Cleaner Spider

I gave the girls some air-drying clay to play with for the first time this week and loved to see how they reacted to it. Pop tasted it, of course, and looked disgusted, but still went back for more. Cakie was fascinated by its cold, firm texture and commented on how hard it was to “squish it” compared to our beloved play dough.

After she had touched it and squeezed it for a while it became warmer and much more malleable. Clay is one of my favourite media for young children to work with because of the easy to achieve results and the open-ended, sculptural possibilities of things to create with it.

 We decided to have a go at creating a spider to go along with our 5-a-Day book choices this week, especially Incy Wincy Spider, a favourite. I gave her a ball of clay to create a body with, but she decided to divide it into two to make both a body and a head. She attached them together and I demonstrated how to smooth over the joins with her thumb to mould the pieces securely. If attaching small details it is advisable to use water too, as this seals them well.
She asked for pipe cleaners to make legs and we talked about how many legs a spider has, counting them out by looking at a picture in the book. She stuck them over the body and I showed her how to poke a hole and stick them inside the clay so they wouldn’t fall out when it dried.

Then she added orange pieces for eyes and a pink mouth! So cute. 

Pop spent a long time picking little pieces off, rolling them between her fingers, tasting them and redistributing them all over the floor. She had plenty of fun investigating that’s for sure!
We left the Incy Wincy spider to dry in the kitchen for two days and now he is rock solid. I originally planned for Cakie to paint the clay when it was dry but she didn’t want to and it does look better as it is. Here he is exploring the garden!
Learning Links:
  • creative: exploring a range of media, trying out new tools, creating a simple representation of a person or object
  • sensory: exploring new materials using all of the senses, describe new sensations with appropriate vocabulary
  • motor skills: develop fine motor skills through pinching, squeezing, rolling, flattening, poking into clay
  • maths: count objects using 1:1 correspondence
  • knowledge of the world (science): talk about spiders and their body shapes, number of legs, habitats etc
  • literacy: developing new naming and describing words eg slimy, smooth, firm/ linking a project to a story and nursery rhyme character
  • phse: sustaining involvement in a self-chosen activity/ making decisions/ seeing a project through to completion
Cakie: 34 months
Pop: 16 months


  1. says

    I love love love your blog! You have given e so many great ideas for things to do with my kids. :o)

    I do have one question though. When you say “maths: count objects using 1:1 correspondence” what does that mean? It’s probably a very simple explanation, but i can’t fathom it!

    Sarah. x

  2. says

    Ah Sarah, so sorry! I am very behind on answering questions! Not keeping my head straight at the moment :-) It is teacher jargon, so sorry, and simply means counting by touching or moving objects ie 1 hand to 1 object. It’s because little children tend to point or wave their hands at things when attempting to count them, and often round up to 10 or another familiar “end point” that they have heard, without making sure that each object represents each number being said. Hope that’s intelligible! haha