Motor planning involves the ability to order, plan, sequence and execute multiple motor activities. It requires the ability to imagine and carry out an action. It also means being aware of how to use your body in space and how to do something you have never done before.
These skills are natural processes used when creating art. Clay can be a good medium to use to promote and develop these skills. If you have an artist who is challenged with motor planning, start with some simple clay project ideas.
Create a Clay Pinch Pot
- Begin by teaching your artist how to create a simple pinch pot. This is where most children start when learning to use clay.
- Have your child roll clay into a ball using the palm of their hands. Have them place their thumbs next to each other and push a hole in the clay. This begins to form a primitive rough bowl shape.
- The artist will continue to push out with both thumbs inside the bowl turning it as they go. The bowl will become thinner and larger. The artist is learning to use their thumbs, fingers and muscles at the same time. They are also performing multiple actions at the same time, learning how to touch and explore the clay using their hands to manipulate it.
Build a Clay Coil Pot
- Creating a coil built pot is also a nice option that can continue to build and develop motor planning skills An artist can start with a ball of clay. Have the artist start to roll the ball back and forth with one hand. Have them press down as they are rolling. For some kids this will be a task that will take a lot of practice to master.
- Tell them they are making snakes. They can make long or small snakes. Encourage them to move their hand while rolling from one side to another of the coil. This will make it longer and thinner. This involves multiple steps in thinking about moving the hand, pressing with muscles and adjusting their hand as they create coils/snakes. It may take many attempts and practice for an artist to get the hang of this.
- Once your artist has mastered this, show them how to roll coils using both hands at the same time for the rolling action. This will introduce more skills to master. They will learn how to synchronize their hands at the same time to create the rolling action. This brings another action skill to process of rolling.
- Have them roll multiple coils. This is good practice and will create enough coils to build and construct a pot. Have them take one coil and create a circle with the ends touching each other. Have the artist “squish” and press the ends together. It becomes a coil circle. Have the artist take another coil, and lay it on the circle coil, following the shape of the circle.
- Continue to lay coils on top of each other and the bowl will continue to become taller. As the artist becomes more confident and proficient they can experiment with different types of coil bowls and pots.
Through these multi-step processes, the artist is learning how to organize, perform and adapt actions. They are learning how to move their hands together and in space to manipulate the clay. Unbeknownst to the young artist, the child is enhancing their ability to order, plan, sequence and execute multiple motor activities, thereby developing motor planning skills. They also have something to be proud of to show for all of their hard work.