After creating Superhero Masks and Capes the children started playing with all kinds of imaginative superpowers, from magic spells to magic weapons. Trying to take this exploration a step further, I encouraged each child to sketch their powers before sculpting them in clay. The children were so engaged in the process, and in general with the topic of superheroes, that we ended up with a whole set of Superheroes in Clay as well as a final Superhero Mixed Media Collage.
- Clay (this one air dries and is easy to handle for little hands)
- Loose parts (toothpicks, feathers, sequins, foam shapes, pompoms, pipecleaners, wood shapes, beads etc.)
- Colored pencils or markers
- Craft wire
- Cardboard (to work on with- and let the clay dry on)
Step 1: Sketch your power
Set out an array of colored pencils, markers and paper. Before inviting the children to sketch their superpowers we asked questions like:
“What color is your power?”,
“What sound does it make?”,
“What would you do with it?”.
Magical Thinking and Superpowers
While sketching, the children pondered a lot about which parts of their powers are real and which powers are pretend powers. As children try to make sense of their world and build and organize their experiences, their minds still move easily between fantasy and reality. This is a normal stage of toddler development and it’s important that we allow children to explore and create their own theories and understandings to sort out what’s real and what’s not. Distinguishing between fantasy and reality will become a important developmental step during the kindergarten years once children have gathered more information about the world which will enable them to draw more rational conclusions.
Step 2: Warm up the clay
Before you begin to create, invite the children to pinch, massage and pound a fist sized amount of clay to get it to warm up. Children love doing this! I also usually show how to model some simple shapes to start with: Roll a ball to start any clay project with, flatten the clay into a pancake, roll a ball again and then a snake. We also practice using our finger tips to smoothen out the clay so that it won’t fall apart when drying.
Step 3: Start creating
Set out loose parts to decorate the clay and invite the children to freely start creating. I took photos of their superhero masks and also left the sketches of their superpowers on the table to enhance connection with their ideas about superpowers.