Lively Hand, photo and all text ⓒ Irene O’Garden 2013
When asked to conduct a River Of Words forest workshop for eight children aged 3-6 years (not my usual crowd) I called an expert—my sister Robin, a retired Waldorf kindergarten teacher. What activity could focus such a wide range of attention spans?
She suggested modeling with air-drying clay. I liked it— minimal prep, no measuring, cutting, or gluing, easy clean-up and appropriately earthy.
So yesterday, after I rang my centering bell and read my new children’s book, Forest What Would You Like, my charges and I took a nature walk. In addition to thrilling fauna–“A Wood Louse! I love these!” cried one girl–pebbles, bark, pine cones, clover blossoms and other treasures were squealed over, popped into paper cups and reverently born back to the picnic table, to be embossed or embedded in clay.
It’s great to be around raw creation. Children create as happily and naturally as spiders spin webs and when they don’t like a creation, they just squash it and start again. No emotional tug-of-war, no judgement. Just trust in an infinite supply of clay.
Did it matter that before the day was out, the clover would droop on the little clay mountaintop, the tiny wild strawberry drop from the unicorn’s eye?
No. By then they’ll all be making something out of something else.
Time is the clay in which our creations dry. What never droops or ages, dies or dries is that lively hand within us.
Incidentally, for a rewarding look at pure and beautiful creativity practiced by five-year-old Helen (one of yesterday’s creators) you may enjoy visiting her blog (!) helensfairyhouses.com. Her mother told me about it, and I found it most inspiring.