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Toddler Clay Tray + The Materials We Use

Toddler Clay Tray at How we Montessori

What do you put on your clay tray or with your toddler clay work? In the past I've presented clay with lots of bits and pieces like small craft sticks, mosaic tiles, dried beans, gum nuts and other items from nature.

This week our clay tray includes more tools, rather than sticking things in the clay I want my toddler to explore the clay with his hands, to change the shape of the clay, to model and mould it.

Toddler clay squirt bottle at How we Montessori  Otto at two years

A toddler size spray bottle to keep the clay moist. 

How we Montessori toddler clay tray  two year old rolling clay  wooden clay tools

Textured rolling pin.

How we Montessori toddler clay tray Otto at Two Years

"Clay has a utilitarian purpose—it can make bowls and cups—but it also supports spiritual and physical development as the child becomes able to dictate what form the clay will take. Clay can be an excellent means for the child to develop awareness and mastery of his or her emotions and physical movements." - Clay in the Classroom by Claire Willis, Montessori Life.

Toddler Clay Tray at how we Montessori toddler rolling clay with hands at two years

I love to see those little hands rolling and manipulating the clay. 

Otto cutting clay at how we Montessori toddler clay tray at How we Montessori


Working with clay cards at How we Montessori

These clay technique prompts are so useful. This is what clay play is all about at this age, free exploration and learning techniques like 'squeeze', 'flatten' and 'press'.

Clay Play Book at HWM Montessori

I get a lot of ideas from Clay Play. It's a good resource if you are starting out working with clay and young children including toddlers and preschoolers. It take you from the exploration stage to the creating stage.

"It is very important for young children to experience sensory tactile art exploration. I recommend providing lots of tactile art experiences. Try out many different sensory art projects that can aid in learning and be experienced by hand. Provides lots of blocks of time for using hands and fingers directly." - Clay Play by Spramani Elaun. 


  • Clay Play by Montessori Art Teacher, Spramani Elaun. 
  • Clay Technique Cards by My Teaching Cupboard at TPT, these are excellent for vocabulary building and prompts. 

What clay do we use?

We've used a lot of DAS Terracotta Air Dry Clay, in Australia Educating Colours is a good brand also. However there are often local options at pottery supply stores. With toddlers and young children I like to use terracotta clay, and one that is air drying. Buying in bulk is a good option if you use clay often or have more than one child, it is more affordable and uses less packaging.

Here we are using Luca Pottery Air Drying Clay, ordered from Art Supplies Australia (Sydney). It is a clay that is dug straight from the ground in South Australia, it is 100% natural terracotta coloured, non-toxic and air drying. It needs more than a day to dry, we can leave it out all morning and then wet it and it can still be used. 

Other clay related articles include:

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