Media, materials and processes: malleable materials

Malleable materials offer accessible opportunities to engage with spatial and tactile ways of thinking and working. Because working directly in three dimensions does not require an abstraction into two dimensions, it can be experienced as more immediate than drawing or painting.

Learning Intentions

We are learning that we can manipulate malleable material such as clay, dough and plasticine in a variety of ways to produce imaginative work for different purposes.

Learning Activities

Have the pupils investigate how to use malleable material such as clay, plasticine or dough to play, draw, invent and design. Encourage them to:

  • use coils to ‘draw’ and create images;
  • pinch small balls of the malleable material to create hollow forms;
  • flatten and roll pieces of the malleable material to make slabs;
  • cut shapes out of flattened pieces;
  • join clay securely by blending surfaces together using tools or their fingers;
  • discover that clay will dry out if it is over-handled; and
  • experiment by squeezing, pinching, pulling, pressing, rolling, modelling, flattening, poking, squashing and smoothing the malleable material.

Then give them opportunities to try:

  • modelling,
    • squeezing the material and pinching it with their fingers; and
    • pulling forms out of the material, e.g. to create heads or legs.
  • impressing,
    • pressing interesting objects into the surface of the material to make textures and patterns.
  • engraving,
  • drawing into the material with a pointed tool such as a pencil.